Our Lenten Journey Begins

The First Sunday in Lent
February 18, 2018

Today is the First Sunday in Lent, a season of penitence, repentance, and renewal. During these forty days, we prayerfully prepare for the annual observance of our Lord’s passion and resurrection. Our worship reflects the contemplative nature of the season.
  • We sing a peaceful, reflective mass setting by Franz Schubert (more about that next week)
  • Psalms and prayers are intoned using simple, ancient chants
  • A longer period of silence is observed after the readings and at the breaking of the bread
  • The word "Alleluia" is not spoken or sung
  • There are no flowers adorning the altar
  • The sound of the organ is less brilliant. The festival trumpet stop (the horizontal pipes on the back wall) will not sound again until Easter. Preludes and postludes - often based on Lenten hymn tunes - are more subdued.

Today's 10:30 Eucharist begins with a fine Anglican tradition: the chanting of the Great Litany in procession. We can trace its origins to the fifth century. The Litany was the first English language rite prepared by Thomas Cranmer, Archbishop of Canterbury and a leader of the English Reformation. Published in 1544, it has been a part of our worship ever since. Here's a photo of the 1549 Book of Common Prayer open to the Great Litany. (This volume is housed in the library at The University of the South, an Episcopal university and seminary in Sewanee, Tennessee.)


Learn more about the Great Litany here:

You can even join a Great Litany Fan Club on Facebook.

During the Litany, you'll notice the acolytes, choir, and clergy forming a "solemn procession" - a figure eight pattern that moves through the entire nave. This embodies the all-encompassing nature of this prayer. Chanting the Great Litany engages body, mind, spirit, and voice, calling us to a season of prayer.

You'll also notice that most of today's hymns are drawn from the "Lent" section of The Hymnal 1982. This section includes Hymns 140-152. Take a few moments to leaf through these pages. Over the next five Sundays, we will experience many of these hymns, either through singing or by hearing organ pieces based on their tunes. These texts and tunes date from the early church to the present day. This reminds us that, as we make our Lenten pilgrimage, we join generations that have walked before us and strive to lead the way for those that follow.

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