Changing up the music for Lent
“How much time do you spend worshipping in your church service?” This question was posed recently to one of our members. He responded by saying, “About an hour and a half.” The other person was stunned. “Oh my gosh, how long is your service?” Our member responded by saying, “About an hour and a half.” It is common today, especially amongst Evangelicals, to refer to the singing portion of the church service as “worship.” As Anglicans, we view the entirety of our church service as worship. Prayer, Scripture reading, listening, receiving communion, and yes, music are all part of our service of worship to God.
One of the things I’ve always loved about the Anglican Church is that music is not a “part” of the service, but rather it is used throughout our worship. Not only do we have our hymns and songs of praise, we also have what is known as “service music.” While the hymns tend to change from week to week, the service music often stays the same. For example, the Gloria or Trisagion at the beginning of the service is typically the same piece of music every week, as is the Sanctus (Holy, holy, holy) and the Agnus Dei (Lamb of God) during the Eucharistic Prayer.
While many of us appreciate having familiar service music every week, it does have a tendency to become stale over time. To protect against this danger, many Anglican churches will change up their service music for different seasons. In that same spirit, we will be doing some different things musically this Lent, beginning on Sunday, March 10th. Since change that is unexpected and unexplained can be difficult, I would like to take this opportunity to explain these changes to you.
For starters, we will be chanting the Psalms during Lent at both services. The Psalter was the hymnal of ancient Israel. These beautiful poems have been used in Christian worship since the earliest days of the Church and the chanting of the Psalms is a rich part of our own Anglican tradition. When we sing these timeless songs the words come alive and take on new meaning for us. We will be using a style of chanting known as Anglican Chant. Each half verse is broken up into two separate chords. The congregation will sing words on the first tone and then change at the “/” mark, usually before the final word of the half verse. At the end of two verses the chord progression repeats. If our portion of the Psalter has an uneven number of verses, the second half of the progression will be sung on the last verse. Here are the chords we will be using for our Anglican Chant:
We will also be using a different presentation hymn during Lent. Rather than the normal doxology or “All Creatures of our God and King,” we will be using the last two verses of the Lenten Hymn, “Lord, who throughout these forty days.” I love the last line of this hymn, which states, “Abide with us that so this life of suffering over past, an Easter of unending joy we may attain at last!” What a wonderful reminder that Lent always ends in Resurrection and Easter!
One thing we will be removing at both services for Lent is the Fraction Anthem (Alleluia, Christ our passover is sacrificed for us…). Anglicans do not say “Alleluia” during worship in Lent, and the Prayer Book gives us the option of breaking the Bread during the Words of Institution rather than at the end of the prayer, so this is what we will do during Lent.
At the 8:30 service in Lent, in place of the Gloria we will be singing the Archangelsky Trisagion. This piece has a beautifully somber melody that is perfect for the Lenten season. You can see the music for it here:
Additionally, we will be using the Merbecke communion setting (instead of the Willan that we are currently using) which includes the Sanctus and the Agnus Dei. You can see the music for those pieces here:
At 10:45 we will be replacing the Ortega Trisagion with the Merkel Kyrie, which we have done before during Lent and Advent. You can see the music here:
For communion, we will be replacing the Schubert Sanctus with the Powell Sanctus (one of my favorites). You can see it here:
Since the Prayer Book gives permission to use “another suitable hymn” in place of the Agnus Dei, we will be using the hymn, “Bread of the world,” after the Prayer of Humble Access at the 10:45 service. You can see it here:
Finally, you will probably notice some other changes to the 10:45 music starting in Lent. After over 2 years of faithful service to our music ministry, John and Kristin Gram are stepping down. When they took over the praise band more than two years ago it was intended by them to be a temporary solution until the church found a more long term music plan. We have been so blessed by their ministry and I personally am happy that John and Kristin were able to continue doing it as long as they did. I am also excited about Barth Fraker’s vision for the praise band and I can’t wait to see how our music ministry continues to grow under his leadership.
If anyone has any questions or concerns regarding these musical changes, please let me know. My prayer is that our music during the upcoming Lenten season will be a blessing to all who worship with us.
Warren Gene Campbell
2/12/2019 02:33:21 pm
Thanks, Eric for your explaining the musical adjustments during Lent. It will be helpful so people will not be caught off guard. I share the sentiment of Lent albeit as a Presbyterian I might have a bit different musical approach.
2/14/2019 09:52:52 am
Eric, thank you for briefing us on musical selections we'll be using in our worship during the Lenten Season. It is the Old Testament pattern, carried on in the Eastern Orthodox Churches, and much of the Western Catholic tradition, especially in monastic and religious communities, as well as among Evangelical and Charismatic Anglicans across the world, that worship and music are almost inseparable. I recall that our father in Faith St Augustine of Hippo remarked: "He who sings prays twice!" My first Anglican pastor would step out of the procession at the beginning of Holy Eucharist to hand someone a hymnal who was not singing with the congregation. The singing of the psalter can often be more "user friendly" when set to hymn tunes or contemporary settings. Thank you for stretching us a bit, and may our worship be more profoundly in spirit and in truth as a result, for such the Father seeks to worship Him. I appreciate your leadership!
2/14/2020 08:49:16 pm
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The Rev. Eric Zolner
Father Eric is a 3rd generation Anglican and the Rector of All Saints Anglican Church in Springfield, MO.