07 February 2006

Dispensing with "Allelulia" until Easter

Pr David Petersen reproduces a piece from Pius Parsch concerning the disappearance of the word "Alleluia" in the Western liturgy during Septuagesima Season, Lent and Passiontide. And Pr William Weedon reproduces a wonderful meditation by O. P. Kretzmann on this uniquely Western Christian practice. Using rationale similiar to the Eastern churches, Luther questioned this practice of dispensing with the Alleluia, but Lutherans have maintained it nevertheless.

Parsch mentions that "considerable ceremony" accompanies the dispensing of the Alleulia in some places. While no ceremony is indicated in the latest Liber Usualis, the Tridentine Secular Breviary, or the Monastic Diurnal, the Anglican Breviary indicates that on "Alleluia Saturday" (the day before Septuagesima Sunday) an 11th century hymn entitled "Alleluia, dulce carmen" is to be sung. (Go here or here for an Enlgish translation.)

I commend this hymn to you for your devotion.

All the breviaries mentioned above, however, agree that in the closing versicles the following is said: "Let us bless the Lord, alleluia, alleluia." Then they add: "Henceforth Alleluia is not said until Holy Saturday [at the Great Vigil of Easter]."

What happens then at those places in the Mass and Divine Office when Alleluia is usually sung? At the Mass, the "Alleluia" (following the Gradual) is replaced with the Tract. At the Divine Office, in the opening versicles the "Alleluia" is replaced with "Praise be to Thee, O Lord, King of eternal glory."


Bob said...

Would it be true to say that in the original version of the 1557 German edition of the "Lutherani Compendium" that there were in fact several different versions of the Alleliua sung during the final preface of the service?

I would like to write a paper on this some day. I think the academy would benefit.

fr john w fenton said...


I am not familiar with the source that you cite. Could you give me more information, or point me to a website?

In either case, I'm sure a paper on this topic would be of benefit.

William Weedon said...

Fr. Fenton,

The meditation provided was NOT original to me, but if you note at the end, is attributed to O.P. Kretzmann. The great O.P. offered those thoughts, and I merely thought them worth reproducing.


Anonymous said...

Fr. Fenton, when one clicks the "mass" in your entry, the propers for Septuagesima apears. Could you please tell us more about this web site. I saw no way at that page to get to its "home" if there is one. Thanks.
Latif Gaba

fr john w fenton said...

Mr Gaba,

The site in question is:


An even better site (but exclusively in Latin) is:


fr john w fenton said...

Pr Weedon,

Thanks for the correction. I did notice that citation, but too late.

David Clapper said...

FWIW, here are some sample ceremonies for saying farewell to the Alleluia ==> http://members.aol.com/LiturgybyTLW1/Seasonal/Epiphany/BuryAlle.html

Latif Haki Gaba said...

Thanks very much, Fr. Fenton, for the links. I have seen the Latin Rite Missal Project, but the Latin site is new to me. Very cool. Thanks again.