Burying the Alleluia
#1
In medieval times, in order to signify that the Alleluia was no longer to be sung at Mass from Ash Wednesday to the great Vigil of Easter, people developed the ceremony of "burying the Alleluia". It typically consisted of putting a scroll with the word "Alleluia" on it inside a coffin and actually digging up a grave in the church lot and throwing it in, where it would rest until retrieved in another ceremony on Easter.

Since then, the custom has largely fallen into disuse, but my church revived it yesterday. Although we didn't dig up a plot outside, we just placed the "coffin" in front of the side altar to Blessed Mary.

There are some images on my pastor's blog of the event.


And here's some reading material, an excerpt from the Diocese of Paterson, New Jersey's website.


Quote:"The custom at Mardi Gras," said Father Lambro, who is also the director for public relations and development for diocesan Catholic Charities, "was for all the students (at that time in the early 1970s, numbering some 500) to gather for a party in the seminary's recreation center."
At the stroke of midnight, he said, "the youngest men in the community would blow the shofar and everything just stopped and there was total silence."
Into the room walked two seminary students carrying the scroll with the word "Alleluia" on it that was presented to the monastery's abbot. "All of us gathered around him," said Father Lambro. "The abbot sang the 'Alleluia' for the last time and then he rolled up the scroll and placed it in a small coffin."
Everyone was then given a lighted candle, which was used at the Easter vigil at the lighting of the Easter fire, according to Father Lambro, who said that "we then all processed out to the monastic graveyard where the small coffin bearing the 'Alleluia' scroll was buried in a small grave that had been dug.
"We then extinguished our candles and walked back in the darkness to our rooms. Lent had officially begun," he said.
At the Easter vigil, according to Father Lambro, "as the sun was rising, the congregation went back to the graveyard, where the coffin was exhumed. It was carried back to the church, where the abbot took the scroll out and intoned the 'Alleluia' - signaling the great joy that Christ had risen from the dead," he said.
According to Diana Macalintal, writing in the Feb. 2004 issue of Eucharistic Ministries, "the ritual can be traced back to the Middle Ages, when the practice of 'burying the Alleluia' became popular on the eve of Septuagesima (Latin for "70") Sunday, the third Sunday before Lent. (Eucharistic Ministries 239, Feb. 2004). This lay-led ritual included a solemn procession to the church cemetery with a plaque, scroll, banner or even a coffin inscribed with the word 'Alleluia.' Those in mock funeral procession wept while some sang the hymn, 'Alleluia, Dulce Carmen' (known today as the hymn, 'Alleluia, Song of Gladness'). The 'Alleluia' was then laid to rest with the hope of its resurrection on Easter Sunday."

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#2
The_Harlequin_King Wrote:In medieval times, in order to signify that the Alleluia was no longer to be sung at Mass from Ash Wednesday to the great Vigil of Easter, people developed the ceremony of "burying the Alleluia". It typically consisted of putting a scroll with the word "Alleluia" on it inside a coffin and actually digging up a grave in the church lot and throwing it in, where it would rest until retrieved in another ceremony on Easter.

Our school children "Bury the Alleluia" every year on Shrove Tuesday..so they did it yesterday... just as you described. Except I'm not sure where they put the coffin. They "resurrect the Alleluia" at Easter. The tradition lives on!
 
Also, on the night of Shrove Tuesday, we hold a Vespers service with the "Burning of Palms and Blessing of Ashes." The palms from last year's Palm Sunday are burned and the blessed ashes are used for Ash Wednesday. 
 
Lent has such wonderful customs.
- Lisa
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#3
Interestingly, it is only the Western Church that does not use the Alleluia during Lent.  In fact, in the Byzantine rite, this is added to daily Matins during Lent:
Priest: "Alleluia in the ____ Tone: Out of the night my spirit waketh at dawn unto Thee, O God, for Thy commandments are a light upon the earth."
Choir: "Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia."
Priest: "Learn righteousness, ye that dwell upon the earth."
Choir: "Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia."
Priest: "Zeal shall lay hold upon an uninstructed people."
Choir: "Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia."
Priest: "Add more evils upon them, O Lord, lay more evils upon them that are glorious upon the earth."
Choir: "Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia."
As a result, Lent is sometimes called the "Days of Alleluia". 
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#4
I did this in my elementary school days as well.
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#5
I don't know if it's as dead as you think. I've seen photos of this ceremony being done at various parishes in recent years.
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#6
Credo Wrote:I don't know if it's as dead as you think. I've seen photos of this ceremony being done at various parishes in recent years.

Perhaps you're right. But by "fallen into disuse", I was referring more to the post-Tridentine era, lumping the "bury the Alleluia" in with other medieval customs such as the boy bishop. The boy bishop has also been revived in certain Catholic churches such as the Cathedral of Westminster.
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#7
The modern (though fairly conservative) Catholic primary school I work at places great importance on this tradition. The kids love all that kind of stuff. (On a side note, they also much prefer traditional hymns to the modern rubbish. I let my kids choose a hymn to sing from the book every morning, and the parish priest who is borderline-Traditional has put lots of beautiful traditional hymns in which the kids unerringly zero in on. It's always a very encouraging start to the day.) (They also prefer the traditional form of the Angelus to the mickey mouse "getting down to their level" version that was in vogue at the school til a couple of years ago. Modern Bishops and catechists could learn a lot from 9-year-olds!)
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