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Preparing for the change of seasons – 2010

by Christopher Esget ~ January 17th, 2010

Reminder: traditional Lutheran congregations begin the season of Pre-Lent this year on January 31, Septuagesima. That means Transfiguration falls this year on January 24.

Here are the seasonal customs for this time, from the wonderful liturgical resource Lex Orandi:

The Season & Customs of Pre-Lent

The three Sundays before Ash Wednesday are called Septuagesima, Sexagesima and Quinquagesima. These Sundays are privileged, not yielding to any other celebration. From Vespers on the eve of Septuagesima until Shrove Tuesday, the Alleluia is omitted, the Gloria in Excelsis is not sung except on festivals, and the Benedictus replaces the Te Deum in Sunday Matins. Flowers may still be used and the organ played as usual.

At Vespers on the Eve of Septuagesima, the Alleluia, the ancient exclamation of joy and praise, is officially silenced and is not heard again until Vespers on the Eve of Easter. The Alleluia is bidden farewell by singing it twice after the prayers in Vespers, thus: V. Bless we the Lord. Alleluia, alleluia. R. Thanks be to God. Alleluia, allelua. Hereafter, the acclaimation “Praise to Thee, O Lord, King of eternal glory” is substituted for the Alleluia. Also, the Alleluia verse is omitted from the Gradual at Mass and the Tract is used in its place.

-Christopher S. Esget

Cross-posted at Esgetology

12 Responses to Preparing for the change of seasons – 2010

  1. ptmccain

    OK, I'm confused. [insert cheap shots here].

    I can't find "Transfiguration" observed in the lectionary Luther used, and the one that Bach's Leipzig was using, for that matter.

    What gives?

  2. Christopher Esget

    I'll have to look it up when I get back to church, but my recollection is that it was Bugenhagen's innovation. And here I thought I was being an accomodating modernist by observing it at the end of Epiphany! I can go back to Aug. 6 if you like, but somehow I doubt that will make anyone any happier…

  3. Christopher Esget

    Paul, see my reply on the other post, "Whither Transfiguration?" In sum, Reed cites Bugenhagen (and Veit Dietrich) as moving Transfiguration to the Epiphany season. Aug. 6 is associated with a military victory over Islam.

  4. pastorjuhl

    "Since [Transfiguration] received only limited observance on August 6, usually a weekday; and since it seemed appropriate as a climax to the Epiphany season, the Reformers Bugenhagen and Veit Dietrich chose it as the theme for sermons on the Sixth Sunday after Epiphany. Eventually this became the general Lutheran use. The Common Service Book (not the Common Service), remembering that our Lord after descending from the Mount "set His face to go to Jerusalem," appointed the Transfiguration for the last Sunday after the Epiphany in every year "except when there is only one Sunday after the Epiphany" (Luther Reed, "The Lutheran Liturgy", page 449).

    In other words, we stole the idea from the ULCA, who stole the idea from two reformers. The question is whether Bugenhagen and Dietrich made the change after Luther's death?

  5. ptmccain

    I'm having a hard time finding Transfiguration observed in the Lutheran tradition through the Age of Orthodoxy, or…I'm not looking in the right place, the latter scenario being highly likely.

    Would appreciate any information anyone has to share.

  6. standfest

    Zion in Fort Wayne would use the following formula before “Alleluia, Song of Gladness” (LSB 417) to bid the Alleluia farewell for [Pre-Lent and] Lent.

    After Benediction, before closing hymn:
    Putting Away of the Alleluia in Preparation for Lent

    Alleluia!: Enclose and seal up the word ….. Alleluia!
    Let it remain in the secret of your heart ….. Alleluia!
    Let it remain there until the appointed time ….. Alleluia!
    You shall say it with great joy when that day comes! …. Alleluia!

  7. Christopher Esget

    I heard recently that Zion has abandoned the historic lectionary.

  8. Stephens

    Unfortunately, that is correct.

  9. pastorjuhl

    @Paul: Another thought. I have three Lutheran annuals from the 1940s. None of the three feature Transfiguration at the end of Epiphanytide. Each calendar goes from what is the last week of Epiphany into Septuagesima. Perhaps that's what happened in the Age of Orthodoxy, with the Common Service Book moving Transfiguration into the position that we now have it. Like you, I'm sure we are not looking in the right place.

  10. CharlesLehmann

    My unsophisticated read of the issue (since I don't have Luther Reed's tome) is this.

    When I compare the one year in LSB to the one year in TLH, I see that in LSB you have the option of Baptism of our Lord for the 1st Sunday after the Epiphany and of Transfiguration for the Last Sunday before Septuagesima. I see that this same custom appears in the three year lectionary for the beginning and end of Epiphany.

    What does this tell me? That the one year has adapted to that practice because it found it to be a good one. Generally I agree, however I'm a little bit troubled by the fact that it makes the other Epiphany lections so exceedingly rare.

  11. Mark Lovett

    If no one is at Vespers on Septuagesima eve (I know, I'm at least there) is there a way to bid farewell to the Alleluia during the Mass on Septuagesima? I read the post above about Zion in Ft. Wayne, but was unable to picture it in my head.

  12. Timothy C. Schenks

    A little late, we're missing pre-Lent, but finally my congregation's pastor and board of elders have agreed to switch from the three-year to the one-year historic lectionary beginning next month.

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