One Holy Pretzel and 10 Commandments: A guide to understanding our liturgy during Lent

By the Rev. Becky Jones

I hope you have noticed and have appreciated the several changes to our liturgy for Lent.

There was, of course, the Great Litany, which we sang on the first Sunday of Lent. That long, circuitous route around the church that the choir and altar party took during the chanting of the Great Litany is commonly known as "the Holy Pretzel," a name that seems curiously appropriate. It seems that took a number of you by surprise, since it apparently has not been our parish's custom in the past to do this. I, on the other hand, have never been in a parish that didn't do it on Lent 1, so I didn't warn you in advance that it was coming, and for that I apologize.

But the Great Litany and the pretzel was just a one-time thing, not to be seen again until Feb. 18, 2018. (Fair warning!) Some other changes to the liturgy will last throughout Lent. These include beginning the service with the Ten Commandments and the confession; then chanting the Kyrie ("Lord, have mercy; Christ, have mercy; Lord, have mercy"); saying the psalm responsively rather than in unison; substituting the song "All Things are Thine" (from the 1940 Hymnal) for our usual doxology at the presentation of the offerings; using Prayer C, a more penitential prayer for the Great Thanksgiving on Rite II Sundays; and a blessing that bids worshippers to "bow down before the Lord." 

If all these changes have left you feeling just a little unsettled, that's a good thing. We intentionally strive to make the season of Lent feel unlike any other time of the church year. It should be a time of feeling just a little uncertain, a time to be taken out of our comfort zones. But I hope that the overall effect remains a beautiful, worshipful experience. If you have any questions about why we're doing what we're doing during Lent, please don't hesitate to give me a call or drop me a note. Knowing the reasoning behind things can only help us appreciate them more. 


Becky +