Hallelujah, it's Lent (almost)!
Father, forgive me: I love Lent. The Dogma Dogs of Franciscan University of Steubenville have the same idea.
In fact, I celebrate the liturgies of Lent! The first time I attended an Ash Wednesday service, I was in RCIA. I was so thrilled to get to participate in a sacrament. . . even though it was not technically required. I loved getting those ashes. I didn't wash my forehead for days. I love attending Stations of the Cross and recalling the Passion. I love having some special readings and devotions in my purse. I love the huge changes in the Palm Sunday Mass, from the triumphant "Hosanna" at the beginning of Mass to the too-quiet, unnerving ending, a foreshadowing of the Triduum. I love processing through the incense-filled church to "Pange Lingua," then watching the altar being stripped bare on Holy Thursday. I love the long, long line to kiss the Crucifix at Good Friday. I LOVE IT!
Musically, to me, Lent is the Most Wonderful Time Of The Year. Everyone seems to get more focused, and when they do get loud, it's not a boast or a joyful cry -- it's a supplication. Simple melodies. Aching, yearning music. Everyone hearkens back to the "churchy" sounds that remind them of, well, church. Chanted Psalms, or at least chant-like. Palestrina. Victoria. Byrd. Purcell. Bruckner. Bach. And -- one of my favorites -- Allegri's famous treatment of Psalm 51 (here's a zip file of yours truly singing the highest part of the "Miserere" several, uh, years ago). I also like some new music for the organ-free Triduum, especially this treatment of the "The Reproaches."
In many ways, Lent is a 40-day feast for my ears.When parishes reserve chant and Bach, etc. for Lent, it always makes me grin like a Cheshire cat. It's no penance for me to have such music. At my previous parish, we always switched to chanting the Kyrie and the Agnus Dei . . I never wanted Lent to end!
Lent is arduous for me when there is little to no recognition of its uniqueness -- when the music is the same old, same old stuff from "Breaking Bread" and other recyclable Missallettes, played the same way. If I had to endure this version of "We Remember" every day of Lent, that might be a proper Cross-- and I'd probably lose weight, too. Instead of giving up Facebook, maybe I should give up the St. Matthew Passion. The thought makes me shudder enough that I probably ought to consider it.
HAPPY LENT, Y'all!