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The Music of Lent: A Reflection from Bob Howard

In our Presbyterian household Lent was not something we paid much attention to. We knew of families who ate fish on Fridays and who changed diets. We did not. My sisters were unaffected and unaware.

by Robert "Bob" Howard on March 17, 2021

"The Music of Lent"
A Reflection from Bob Howard

   In our Presbyterian household, Lent was not something we paid much attention to. We knew of families who ate fish on Fridays and who changed diets. We did not. My sisters were unaffected and unaware.
   But not for me. Our Organist & Choirmaster Wm Shutte, at his Skinner pipe organ, extended choir practice afternoons and added some Saturday practices as well. Handel’s Messiah was the Easter day observance; we were expected to be ready. This was so when started in choir, when we wore red robes later green robes, then blue. Adults wore black.
   As the season approached Easter our walk after school to choir practice was in warmer weather. Trudging home after practice, we could see that the evening sky was brighter for a minute or two every day.
   Then came Maundy Thursday, and Good Friday (no ashes, please) and Easter, and all the choirs marched (step, together, step), singing the hymn, first line of which is ‘The Day of Resurrection, Earth tell it out abroad’ (Lancashire/ H.Smart tune), past pews filled with glorious Easter hats, to our places in the front pew or apse, ready for what came next and inhaling the scent of lilies.
   Lent is for this writer, some years later, a time of questioning, searching and preparing for what will come next. It is wintertime, and cold, but the sunlight hours are greater. We are worried these days for those who are sick and walking though the shadow of death, yet hopeful. Many are concerned about the state of the Republic; Job asked if we can draw out the serpent, which I think of as doubt and grief. We think we can.
   During Lent we are reminded to think, search, ask and act. And during this time we are comforted because we know what will happen at the end of the forty days. We know that the daylight hours will be longer, and that the weather will warm, and that in future years we will see the Easter hats in church, and we know of the Resurrection, and know that our Redeemer liveth.

The day of resurrection!
Earth tell it out abroad;
The Passover of gladness,
The Passover of God.
From death to life eternal
From earth unto the sky,
Our Christ hath brought us over,
With hymns of victory.

Our hearts be pure from evil,
That we may see aright
The Lord in rays eternal
Of resurrection light;
And list’ning to His accents,
May hear so calm and plain,
His own “All hail!” and hearing,
May raise the victor strain.

Now let the heav’ns be joyful!
Let earth the song begin!
Let the round world keep triumph,
And all that is therein!
Let all things seen and unseen
Their notes in gladness blend,
For Christ the Lord hath risen,
Our joy that hath no end.

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