Alleluia Stories

banner_alleluiaA week from this coming Wednesday, we’ll “bury” the singing of “Alleluia” for forty-five days. (Don’t get me started on the counting of Lent!)

Over the years,  I’ve encountered some interesting misconceptions and ideas about the Latinized Hebrew Gospel Acclamation that just means, “Praise God.”

Maybe it was my days at a college Newman Center, but until about 1980, I thought the prescription was against the Alleluia in Advent, too. Maybe the association with purple. And that we did some acclamation derived from John the Baptist or something.

In one choir, same location, one of the music directors had her people hum the word when they rehearsed the Easter Vigil. In her mind the prohibition was presumably absolute, not just liturgical.

In one parish I served that shall go nameless, one person on the bereavement committee thought we were supposed to use the Lenten Gospel Acclamation at funerals all year round. Perhaps the notion was that the sobreity and somber nature of death precluded “alleluia,” but I assured the person it was absolutely appropriate.

My biggest personal liturgical faux pas in a major setting was when I was tabbed to lead the music for the diocesan Rite of Election. It was  Vespers, and I actually had the “Alleluia” from a Gelineau setting of the Magnificat printed in the program. Apparently nobody else caught it in time, so we had a correction at the rehearsal before liturgy. I was never invited back to the cathedral, so maybe that was a good thing all around.

Maybe it was David Haas at some workshop who touted that we were an “Alleluia People.” Perhaps so, but there are some stumbles along the way. Any stories from among our readers?


About catholicsensibility

Todd lives in the Pacific Northwest, serving a Catholic parish as a lay minister.
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One Response to Alleluia Stories

  1. Liam says:

    While I’ve not been in a choir whose director was as rigid as some about rehearsing works with Alleluia during Lent (considering all that Easter music, that’s ripe for mockery), I do recall some jolly rehearsals of the Hallelujah chorus where the entire text was sung on Doot! during Holy Week as a cross-check on that old warhorse.

    Btw, there is an reasonable variation for hymns that contain the word (well, depending on iambic vs trochaic meter) Alleluia: “Praise the Most High”. For example, if you were doing the original choral anthem setting of Draw Us In The Spirit’s Tether during the Mandatum on Holy Thursday (yeah, I know it’s under copyright – so sue me – but it would be a performance change….)

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