Why Don't Catholics Sing or Say "Alleluia" During Lent? What the Church Teaches

Throughout most of the year, Catholics sing or say the Alleluia before the Gospel is read during the Liturgy of the Word. However, this is not the case during Lent.

In a way, the liturgy itself fasts in preparation for Easter Sunday.

This practice reminds us of the nature of this penitential season. As Venerable Fulton Sheen said, “Unless there is a Good Friday in your life, there can be no Easter Sunday.”

Why don’t Catholics sing “Alleluia” during Lent?

There are a few reasons for this.

First, the focus of Lent is mourning instead of rejoicing, and the word “Alleluia” means “praise the Lord.”

Fasting from this word during Lent calls to mind its significance. It helps the faithful appreciate the depth of what the word “Alleluia” truly means.

“Alleluia” is a Hebrew word that allows us to participate in the praise of the choirs of Angels in Heaven.

Second, the General Instruction of the Roman Missal directs us to omit the Alleluia during the season of Lent.

The General Instruction says:

62. a) The Alleluia is sung in every time of year other than Lent. The verses are taken from the Lectionary or the Graduale.b) During Lent, instead of the Alleluia, the verse before the Gospel as given in the Lectionary is sung. It is also possible to sing another Psalm or Tract, as found in the Graduale.

And, finally, this practice invites us to participate in the season of Lent on a deeper level.

According to the Diocese of Colorado Springs,

 “…the Church joins Moses and the Israelites as they wander in the desert for 40 years. It is a time of agony and purification, one where the faithful join together in saying, ‘How shall we sing the Lord’s song in a foreign land?’ (Psalm 137:4)”“We Christians today are on a spiritual journey, toward the Second Coming of Christ and our future life in Heaven. In order to emphasize the penitential nature of that journey, the Catholic Church, during Lent, removes the Alleluia from the Liturgy of the Mass. We no longer sing with the choirs of angels; instead, we acknowledge our sins and practice repentance, so that one day we may again have the privilege of worshiping God as the angels do.”

The return of the Alleluia at Easter will be a triumphant occasion!

As Saint John Paul II said,

“We are the Easter people and Alleluia is our song.”

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