This Sunday's Music: VIII Sunday in Ordinary Time

This weekend we say farewell to the “Alleluia” (and the Gloria, which, however, does resurface at certain times during Lent). Why? Well, we are entering, on Wednesday, March 3rd, into the season of Lent, during which we will prepare ourselves in mind and spirit for the Passion, Death, and Resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ. But why should the Alleluia (and the Gloria) disappear? “Alleluia”, which is nothing more than the Greek and Latin rendering of the Hebrew “Hallelujah”, is one of the most joyous expressions of our faith, meaning literally “Praise ye the Lord”, and so, as we become more reflective on the Ultimate Sacrifice, we suppress this utterance of highest praise. Traditionally, the music of the final Sunday before Lent is jam-packed with the acclamation as we enter the more solemn and meditative season.

So, how are we at SFDS packing this Sunday’s music with the joy of “Hallelujah”?


We begin this weekend’s Eucharistic celebration with that upbeat, Gospel setting of Psalm 146 that we learned a few weeks ago. In the refrain, we sing: “Praise ye the LORD! Praise ye the LORD! Praise the LORD, O my soul! Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Praise the LORD, O my soul!” The verses that follow list some of the blessings, for which we, throughout all generations, praise the Lord.


The antiphon for the day is: “It is a good thing to give thanks unto [Thee, O Lord]!” But the first verse of this Psalm actually continues with “… and to sing praises unto Thy name, O most High”. We can all sing a Hallelujah unto the name of the Most High, raising our voices up, for He has “made [us] glad through Thy work: [we] will triumph in the works of Thy hands.”


In this old-school Gospel song, which is usually learned by oral tradition, we recount how we love to praise His holy name, for He is “my rock, my sword, my shield. He’s a wheel in the middle of a wheel. I know He’ll never let me down. He’s a jewel that I have found.” This song is the perfect excuse to let go and sing your heart out. It’s fun, it’s easy, and it’s repetitious. You’ll definitely get in the spirit.


Through this old Gospel hymn (tune: HARTFORD by Eugene M. Bartlett), we are reminded of our victory in the Second Person of the Trinity. In the Gospel today, we read: “Death is swallowed up in victory … [T]hanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our LORD Jesus Christ” (1 Corinthians 15:54c, 57).


As we pack away the Hallelujah and prepare ourselves for the solemnity of the Lenten season, we take a few moments just to praise the Lord, to render unto Him pure thanksgiving. We sing a simple yet beautiful and mantra-like song called “Hallelujah” by Frank A. Nelson, composed only in 2014… no, my friends, this is NOT the song from Shrek! Use the simplicity of this song as a song of proper thanksgiving.


What is the first thing you think about when you hear these first lines? Yes, the might of the United States of America, and if you know your history, maybe even the Civil War. But what does this hymn really speak of, and why should we use it this weekend? Sure, it sounds like good ol’ Americana, but it is truly a battle cry in fear of the glory and omnipotence of the Lord. Today, we sing two verses written “in house” specifically for this weekend in light of the Gospel for the VIII Sunday in Ordinary Time. In just a few weeks, we will come together as a unified parish family to recall in detail the Passion, Death, and Resurrection of our Lord, through whom we inherit the victory of eternal life. P.S. We got to pack “Hallelujah” AND “Glory” into the final refrain before Lent!

O Death, where is thy vict’ry?
I say, Death, where is thy sting?
For King Jesus did on Calvary
That blest assurance bring.
Magnify the Lord with me
And let our triumph’s anthem ring:
“The vict’ry Christ hath won!”
Glory! Glory! Hallelujah! (3 times)
The vict’ry Christ hath won!

At the name of Jesus
One day ev’ry knee in awe shall bend,
Ev’ry tongue confess Him
Lord and King both now and till the end.
O, He sits on high
But soon this world with Paradise shall blend.
In Glory Christ shall come.
Glory! Glory! Hallelujah! (3 times)
In Glory Christ shall come.