Wednesday, February 20, 2019

Burying the Alleluia 2019

I am sure that most of our readers have read or heard something of the various customs related to the removal of the word “Alleluia” from the liturgy on Septuagesima Sunday. In the Roman liturgical books, this is done in a typically simply fashion; at the end of Vespers of the previous Saturday, “Alleluia” is added twice to the end of “Benedicamus Domino” and “Deo gratias”, which are sung in the Paschal tone. It is then dropped from the liturgy completely until the Easter vigil. In some medieval uses, however, “Alleluia” was added to the end of every antiphon of this Vespers, and a number of other customs, some formally included in the liturgy and others not, grew up around it as well.

One of the most popular was to write the word on a board or piece of parchment, and then after Vespers bury it in the churchyard, so that it could be dug up again on Easter Sunday, and brought back into the church. Our friends from the Fraternity of St Joseph the Guardian in La-Londe-les-Maures, France, observe this every year, with the black cope otherwise used only at funerals. (If any others readers have photos of this ceremony which they would like to send in, we will be very glad to share them with our readers:

A member of the Fraternity, Fr Hernan Ducci, was in Allentown, New Jersey to offer an Ignatian retreat over the same weekend, and celebrated the same ritual at the church of St John the Baptist.
Back in France, our friends at the Monastère Saint Benoît in La Garde-Freinet used an Alleluia with musical notation, which was then carried out to the garden.
Since all such customs are purely informal, one is free to observe them as best one sees fit. At the church of St Anthony of Padua in Buffalo, New York, the Alleluja is buried under the altar-cloth of the altar of the Virgin Mary.

More recent articles:

For more articles, see the NLM archives: