One of the riches of our Anglo-Catholic heritage is the fact that we get to chant the Great Litany in procession, not once or twice a year, but five times: twice in Advent and thrice in Lent. I must confess that in previous years, the Litany has been challenging for me. From time to time I have fallen prey to impatience at its length; at other times the number of repetitions. However, this past Advent I found the Litany to be very spiritually enriching - perhaps because of the state of our nation and the world at this moment, and I suddenly felt myself praying the words of the Litany with an intensity I had never felt before: each of the responses “We beseech thee to hear us, Good Lord!” was infused with new power. This Lent, when we chant the Great Litany, don’t let the prayers wash over you - rather, breathe deeply and let them saturate you. Make them your own.


{grid8}When the choir is singing something during the mass, pray the text the choir is singing, while they are singing it. For example, when the choir is singing the Kyrie eleison, don’t just listen to the choir. Pray the words in your heart. “Lord, have mercy upon us!” Some people even make it a practice to silently mouth the words the choir is singing to make them more physical and personal. Feel the prayers, don’t just read them or let them be read or sung in your presence. Make them yours. When the choir is singing the motet after communion, be sure to read the text beforehand. If the text is in Latin or another language, be sure to read the translation and meditate on the text - as the choir is singing it. Make the choir’s prayer your prayer. Be fully present in each action during the mass and be highly alert to all your senses. This will help quiet the mind and make space for inspiration.

Lastly, a note about hymn introductions. Technically, the hymn introduction exists to allow the congregation enough time to find the hymnal, stand up, and turn to the right hymn number. I know many cradle Episcopalians who have the Hymnal open before the hymn begins. Allow me to commend this practice to you. If you have the Hymnal open and ready before the hymn introduction begins, it will give you more time to prepare. As I begin to play the hymn introduction, feel free to hum along with the organ to help warm up your voice: the choir does it! Look at the notes of music, and even if you “don’t read music”, watch the contour of the notes as they rise and fall. Breathe. Then join the choir in singing the hymn. Sing in whatever octave is comfortable, and don’t simply sing the hymn. Feel the words and make the prayer yours.

This Lent, let’s go deeper into our faith. No one can do it for you. The time is now.



Candlemas - Choral Evensong and Benediction
February 4 with the Choir of All Saints Worcester 4pm