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March, 2017 Noteworthy News


 In musical terminology, we use the term lento as a direction meaning to be performed slowly.  The word “lento” is French in origin and it is derived from the French root word “lent” meaning slow.  Although the period of Lent observed by Christians is actually derived from the old English word meaning "spring season" (Wikipedia), I do not think that the French derivative is an accident by any means. Lent is a period of time when we are supposed to slow down and reflect upon our lives and our relationships—in particular, our relationship with God. Many Christians give things up or fast as a form of penance, while others invest time or money into charitable organizations. Other Christians use this time for daily prayer or reading of devotionals to feel closer to God. 

For many churches, the music of the Lenten season reflects this slower, more meditational style of worship.  Lenten hymns like “What Wondrous Love Is This?” and “Were You There?” repeat the same phrases several times and then let the music ebb and flow to allow the person singing to think about the meaning of the words.  Look at verse one of “What Wondrous Love Is This?”:

What wondrous love is this, O my soul, O my soul!

 What wondrous love is this, O my soul!

  What wondrous love is this

That caused the Lord of bliss

To bear the dreadful curse for my soul, for my soul

 To bear the dreadful curse for my soul!


If you listen to the song, you will hear that the song tends to build in the middle of the verse when it talks about our Lord of Bliss and then the verse naturally gets slower and softer towards the end where it talks about the dreadful curse of Christ’s death.  “Were You There?” has an interesting part in the chorus where  almost nothing is played when hymn talks about the author    trembling.  So many of the other hymns played during Lent use these interesting techniques to get the listener to really examine the hymn.  This is what makes Lent one of my favorite periods to pick out music for.

Jen Powers, Choir Director




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