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The 40 days and 40 nights of Lent, a penitential season of reflection and preparation for the Queen of Feasts, Easter, is my favorite season in the Christian calendar.

Hymn: "Forty days and forty nights", tune AUS DER TIEFE RUFE ICH, St. John's Episcopal Church, Detroit:


[Anglican teaching moment: the fact that the Priest is wearing a cope--the purple cape-like vestment you see in the video often associated with Bishops in the RC church--is an indication that this parish is Anglo-Catholic. The red ribbons around the neck of the choristers (who for lent are vested only in cassocks without white cottas or surplices) bear medals on the end which signify achievement in the Royal School of Church Music choral program. This is a parish serious about its music.]

Before we continue, the mission of our diary tonight:

Welcome to Brothers and Sisters, the weekly meetup for prayer* and community at Daily Kos.  We put an asterisk on pray* to acknowledge that not everyone uses conventional religious language, but may want to share joys and concerns, or simply take solace in a meditative atmosphere. Anyone who comes in the spirit of mutual respect, warmth and healing is welcome.
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During the season of Lent, many Christians take the opportunity to reflect not only on their own mortality--signified on Ash Wednesday by the phrase "Remember you are dust, and to dust you shall return" which accompanies the imposition of palm ashes on the forehead of the faithful--but also on the final portion of Christ's earthly ministry, his betrayal, crucifixion, death and on Easter, resurrection. It is a season which I truly love. Even if you are not a practicing Christian, it's a great opportunity on a yearly basis to take stock of one's life.

One of the things I love best about Lent is the hymnody, especially that in The Hymnal 1982 of the Episcopal Church, the denomination where I make my spiritual home.

Hymn Improvisation: ST. FLAVIAN, "Lord, who throughout these forty days":


Grace Episcopal Church, Cincinnati, Jonathan Tan, organ.

Collect for the First Sunday in Lent, BCP 1979, pg. 218:

Almighty God, whose blessed Son was led by the Spirit to be tempted by Satan: Come quickly to help us who are assaulted by many temptations; and, as you know the weaknesses of each of us, let each one find you mighty to save; through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.
This is one of the few times in the BCP there is any reference to the Devil, which is at once amusing and also jarring: it makes one think a little--what is evil in the world?. I certainly would not ever choose to preach on this collect.

My favorite Lenten hymn bar none: Wilt though forgive, properly called "A Hymn to God the Father" by the Very Rev. John Donne (1573-1631):

by John Donne

WILT Thou forgive that sin where I begun,
    Which was my sin, though it were done before?
Wilt Thou forgive that sin, through which I run,
    And do run still, though still I do deplore?
        When Thou hast done, Thou hast not done,
                    For I have more.

Wilt Thou forgive that sin which I have won
    Others to sin, and made my sin their door?
Wilt Thou forgive that sin which I did shun
    A year or two, but wallowed in a score?
        When Thou hast done, Thou hast not done,
                    For I have more.

I have a sin of fear, that when I have spun
    My last thread, I shall perish on the shore ;
But swear by Thyself, that at my death Thy Son
    Shall shine as he shines now, and heretofore ;
        And having done that, Thou hast done ;
                    I fear no more.

I won't pick this apart too much. Suffice it to say that it is a reflection on the poet's own piquant sex life and failures of faith. It is also--like much of Donne's work--full of puns, especially on his own name, a common theme in his work.


Church of the Ascension, Chicago, IL

It is traditional for many Christians to "give something up" for Lent. Some of us practice fasting and abstinence from meat on Fridays. I prefer to "take something on" which this year, is praying the Stations of the Cross on Fridays at our Episcopal Cathedral of St. Luke here in Portland, Maine. I am also volunteering at the food pantry. What are you doing for Lent? Giving up, taking on, not observing? Let us know in the comments, along with sharing your joys and concerns.


This has nothing to do with Lent, but it is always a good time to honor Our Lady: Toccata on "Salve Regina" by my great predecessor at St. John's, Boston, Everett Titcomb played on a good historical New England organ built by Hook and Hastings. On Thursday, my Thursday Classical Music Diary--my first for the series-- will feature the work of Everett Titcomb, one of the most influential Anglican church musicians of the 20th Century.


Coffee hour proceeds in the comments: please feel free to share joys, concerns, prayers*, meditations, or however the spirit moves you.

Let us bless the Lord
Thanks be to God.

Originally posted to Anglican Kossacks on Sun Feb 26, 2012 at 04:59 PM PST.

Also republished by Street Prophets and DKOMA.

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