Sunday, February 14, 2010

Burial of the Alleluia at Our Lady of the Atonement Parish, San Antonio, Texas

Following up on my last post on the history of the burial of the Alleluia, and other pre-Lent customs, Fr. Phillips of the Anglican Use's flagship parish, Our Lady of the Atonement, has been meditating on the various pre-Lent Sundays that, while not part of the Latin Rite calendar used by the Pastoral Provision (at present, anyway), have historically been part of the Anglican calendar as well as the traditional Roman one. He also recently posted some photos of his parish's own adaptation of the Burial of the Alleluia, liturgically celebrated by the parish school on Shrove Tuesday, commenting:

For those who follow the traditional calendar with the “Gesima” Sundays, you would have done this on the day before Septuagesima. But for those of us who follow the revised Latin Rite calendar, on Shrove Tuesday all the children will place their decoratively written Alleluias in a small coffin near the entrance of the church. We’ll sing the “Alleluia dulce carmen” at the end of Mass, as we process to the Lady Chapel, where the coffin will remain until the great Easter Vigil.

There are many local traditions surrounding the “Burying of the Alleluia,” but the purpose is always the same: to mark the cessation of singing or saying the Alleluia during the penitential season, so that it can break out as a new song at Easter. As the 13th century bishop, William Duranti, wrote, “We desist from saying Alleluia, the song chanted by angels, because we have been excluded from the company of the angels on account of Adam’s sin. In the Babylon of our earthly life we sit by the streams, weeping as we remember Sion. For as the children of Israel in an alien land hung their harps upon the willows, so we too must forget the Alleluia song in the season of sadness, of penance, and bitterness of heart.”

The students in our parish school get ready for this every year, and take it very seriously. In fact, a few years ago just after Lent had begun, one of our very young students asked if he could see me because he had to tell me something “very, very important.” When he came to me, he wanted to tell me what one of the other boys had done earlier that day. It sounded serious, so I encouraged him to tell me about it. In a half-whispered voice the offence was reported: “He said the ‘A’ word!”
Here are some images from the annual event:

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