Every year, many of us go through the tradition to "give up" something during Lent. Some people choose to give up chocolate, while some people choose to give up meat. There is no right or wrong answer as to what to give up, but it is generally expected you give up something with some meaning as a form of personal sacrifice. There are a large variety of things one can choose to give up for Lent, but do you know what the liturgy at church "gives up?"
Some of the more commonly known liturgical elements that are omitted from worship during Lent are the singing or speaking of the Alleluia before the gospel and the Gloria towards the beginning of the service. These are both commonly omitted at most liturgical churches such as Catholic and Lutheran churches.
Depending on the church you go to, they may do additional omissions to the liturgy during Lent. One would be no solo instrumental music, with only the piano or organ being used to accompany singing throughout the whole Lenten season. Another omission would be flowers surrounding the altar. Normally throughout the liturgical year there are flowers surrounding the altar coordinating with the various liturgical seasons and colors; however, some churches do not decorate the altar with flowers during Lent. While the absence of solo instrumental music or flowers might be easy to overlook, something you would be unlikely to miss would be if the church emptied the water from the font during Lent - with some going as far as to put sand in the font. This is meant to represent the spiritual dryness prior to Easter, but this is not generally permitted within the church, so it would be a rare sight. The last common tradition of Lent is to veil the crosses and statues after the Fifth Sunday of Lent, some Churches do this prior to the Fifth Sunday of Lent, but that is not generally accepted and as viewed as them "jumping the gun."
While we are worshiping in a different setting than usual this year, I encourage you to still take a look around and see what you observe. Do we do any of the things listed above? Do we normally do them if we are in the sanctuary? Do we do some things that aren't mentioned above? Lent is just one of the many liturgical seasons of the year, and with each season comes a different set of traditions. Let's see if you notice any other traditions throughout the year!
Director of Music
Zach studied organ performance at Iowa State University, where he earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Music in 2016. He has been an organist, bell choir director, and director of worship primarily in the central Iowa area. He continually seeks opportunities to grow as a musician through various conferences and seminars. Zach currently serves on the Central Iowa American Guild of Organists (AGO) Executive Committee, and on the American Guild of Organists Young Organists (AGOYO) National Board.