A custom dating back to at least the fifth century will continue at Immanuel this weekend. We’ll conclude our worship by lifting a banner with the word “Alleluia” and then lowering it into a box where it will remain until Easter sunrise. The practice, often referred to as “burying the alleluia,” stems from the ancient practice when a scroll containing the word was removed from the church. A written record from the 15th century describes French choirboys carrying a small coffin containing the word “Alleluia” out the church in procession, and then burying it in the churchyard.
Tradition holds that we won’t sing or say the word “alleluia” again until Easter Day. There is no scriptural command for this practice, nor is there for the season of Lent. However, we simply choose to restrain our praise during the 40-day season of Lent ending with Easter. You’ll notice that we won’t select a hymn or song with the word “alleluia” during this time. Lent is designed to be a time of being remorseful as we acknowledge our sins and look with great anticipation to the message of forgiveness and eternal life in the resurrection of Jesus Christ on Easter.
The hymn “Alleluia, Song of Gladness,” contains a translation of an 11th century Latin text that compares an alleluia-less Lent to the exile of the Israelites in Babylon. The text then anticipates the joy of Easter when glad alleluias will return in their heavenly splendor. We will include this ancient hymn in our worship this weekend. Enjoy these powerful words of the early Christian Church that are rich with meaning for us today:
Alleluia cannot always
Be our song while here below;
Alleluia, our transgressions
Make us for a while forego;
For the solemn time is coming
When our tears for sin must flow.
Therefore in our hymns we pray Thee,
Grant us, blessed Trinity,
At the last to keep Thine Easter
With Thy faithful saints on high;
There to Thee for ever singing
Source: Lutheran Service Book #417 Text and music: Public domain
I hope that you are able to join us for worship this weekend as we “bury the alleluia…”
See you in church,