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A blog of the Evangelical Lutheran Liturgy

Alleluias in Lenten Funerals?

In a Facebook group for pastors using the Historic Lectionary, Fr. Jordan McKinley asked:
"The LSB removes the Alleluias during funerals in Lent. What is the motivation behind this? Should they remain? I checked TLA and Lang, but neither really say anything about it (that I saw)."

Off list (not all the Gotteseditors are on Facebook), prompted by Fr. Jason Braaten, the Gottes-editors have been throwing around their uninformed opinions on whether Alleluias are appropriate for funerals in Lent. In standard Gottesidenst fashion, we don't quite agree and found a few extreme positions.

My gut reaction is that TLH did something wrong to us in this regard. In the Roman rite there are fully propers for funerals and weddings. I think that as long as the church has been using colors they have been thought of as part of the propers. So the The Lutheran Liturgy rubric demands that the paraments not be changed for weddings is stupid. Yet some LCMS pastors act as though it is the mark of orthodoxy. Imagine that! But I think that if the paraments aren't changed then the readings and hymns shouldn't be either. At Redeemer, we change the paraments. Weddings are white. So are funerals.

Our pall is white. The paraments match. The hymns are Easter hymns and so are the readings. So we sing Alleluias - even if it is in the midst of Lent. We don't follow the Roman rite. There the color is black. I wasn't advocating following the Roman rite merely pointing out that there is a strong precedent for weddings and funerals having their own propers. I think black for funerals is worse than unnecessary. I think it is slightly off. But guess who disagrees? Fr. Curtis.

Curtis wants old-fashioned requiems with black on the altar and no Alleluias no matter what the season. Not that he is doing that in Worden, of course, it is just that he is saying we've lost something in this Easter emphasis. What? Sadness. Funerals are sad. Black and no Alleluias acknowledge that. Thus they give voice to the real and sanctified pain that the mourners are enduring. This isn't in any way a denial of the resurrection and the joy we have in Christ.

But is an Easter emphasis an implied denial of sanctified mourning? He might be on to something. Are we forcing our piety on the mourning by insisting they sing robust Easter hymns when they just don't feel like it? Again, I don't think so. I think we are leading them to confess against themselves and showing them where to find comfort. But I agree that it could be oppressive and we should be sensitive to their pain.

Fr. Beane came in also. I think he was advocating a position that gibes with our practice here at Redeemer. And Fr. Stuckwisch came in. He said a bunch of very smart things, qualified precisely, but refrained from saying anything negative about LSB or taking a dogmatic position. He, of course, is the smart one and also serves as the anti-Curtis. We're glad to have him around for that. We hope he gives us some credibility.

I hope they will chime in the comments because I am too lazy to try and repeat everything that was said and they are also known to change their minds. Thanks to Fr. McKinley for bringing this up. Please feel free to jump in on the comments and pool your ignorance with ours, or, if you actually know something, to post that as well.

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