This past Sunday, February 11, in the atrium of the Church of the Transfiguration, we burned the palms from last Palm Sunday to become the ashes that we receive today. Lent is often a combination of looking backward in repentance, and forward to Easter joy of forgiveness and new life. The Gregorian chant hymn for Lauds captures some of this dichotomy. The text centers on penitential themes of softening hearts and the divide between light and darkness. The melody for this hymn has a forward-moving, energized spirit. One of the final verses of the hymn already points us towards Easter, rejoicing and the flowering of Spring.
Today, if you will hear the Lord’s voice, do not harden your hearts.
Now, O Christ, Sun of Justice, let the shadows of the mind divide, that the light of virtues may return when you restore daylight to the world.
Granting an acceptable time, also give a penitent heart that kindness may convert those who longsuffering has borne;
And give some kind of penance to carry out, through which our sins, however grave, may be removed by your greater offering.
The day is coming, your day, through which all things flower again; may we rejoice in it, led back by it to your grace.
You, let the entirety of all things worship, O merciful Trinity, and made new by forgiveness, let us sing the new song. Amen