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Farewell to Hallelujah
O. P. Kretzmann

Shrove Tuesday… At Vespers today — or at the ser vices last Sunday — the church sang the last Hallelujah, and Lent began… From time immemorial the Hallelujah has been omitted from the services of the Church during the season dedicated to the remembrance of the Passion of our Lord… The last Hallelujah dies away in chapel and cathedral, and while the echo still lingers among the rafters, the violet paraments of sorrow are placed upon the altar… It will be Easter morning be fore the Hallelujah is heard again…

There is wisdom in this… It is another and profound difference between the Church and the world… The world never willingly abandons joy… Her votaries hang on to happiness with all the strength they have — until, inevitably, it is taken away from them… They have forgotten that the line of life must sometimes go down into the darkness of sorrow… It is never easy, but it is a great deal better to go down willingly than to be driven down like a slave… To give up joy by the strength of Him who gave up heaven is a part of the way by which joy and heaven will return… Easter can come only to the heart that has known Lent…

The shadow which clings to all earthly good when it is seen in the light of faith is inevitable… Because of this the Christian view of life appears so much darker than the pagan — checkered with a darkness the more intense the brighter the light of faith shines upon it… But the farewell to Hallelujah, though necessary, is only temporary… It springs from the strong compulsion of the dust from which we came and the stronger compulsions of the everlasting mercy which lifted us from that dust… When all is said and done, Christianity is a religion of deeper gladness just because it is a religion of deeper fear and greater sorrow… The Cross remains the world climax of divine and human sorrow, ineffably distant and ineffably close, the sorrow of sin and the pain of mans long and lonely separation from God…

So it is good that our Hallelujahs are silent for a little time… In their stead appear the crown of thorns, the drops of blood, the way of mourning, the five wounds, and the sound of our hands driving nails… And on Easter Morn our returning Hallelujahs will say that our Lord arose and ascended into heaven, that He is now the King of Glory, who has given us a share in both His suffering and His victory, in His passion and His power, in His former pain and His present peace…

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