Farewell to the Alleluia

In Königsmünster Abbey in Germany, there is the tradition of “farewell to the Alleluia” on the Tuesday before Lent.

Daily Vespers always ends with “Benedicamus Domino – Deo gratias” (sung in German to the loose translation “Singet Lob und Preis. / Dank sei Gott dem Herrn”). But on this Tuesday, the version with the double alleluia – with the melody of the dismissal of Mass from Easter and Pentecost.

This rite was fairly spectacular: Would the organist remember that he had to give a different intonation? Would the choir of monks be prepared or totally confused? How many brethren would smile because they had totally forgotten it, but then enjoy hearing the Alleluia for the last time before Easter?

In a few hours we will sing the final Alleluia before Lent in Innsbruck, where I now teach. We have a type of Evensong every Tuesday, and today I will end it with the Easter/Pentecost dismissal with double alleluia. I guess I like to confuse people – and highlight the turning of seasons.


  1. We have grown a tradition in our parish over the last few years, singing the “Halle, Halle, Hallelujah” as our closing song the Sunday before Ash Wednesday. We use it at the Easter Vigil while the newly baptized change into dry garments and the assembly approaches the font. “Raucous” might be too tame a description.

  2. Once again, there is an existing 11th c. hymn: “Alleluia, dulce carmen” which served as a “farewell.” The Episcopal Hymnal 1940 published a translation by JM Neale “Alleluia, song of gladness” to a very singable tune “Dulce Carmen.” My parish sings it every year as a recessional hymn on the last Sunday before Lent. Unfortunately the tune wasn’t brought forward into the 1982 Hymnal and the plainsong melodies it is set to are less successful. Here’s a video of the part of it:


  3. I note that, for Catholic parishes that celebrate daily Mass (typical in the USA, though clustered groups of churches therein would not necessarily have Mass in each church building), the farewell to Alleluia belongs on Shrove Tuesday, not the preceding Sunday.

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