As we begin Lent this year, many of us may be having trouble deciding how to mark the season in our spiritual lives. After a year of considerable deprivation, we might decide to focus on something new – and praying with Lenten canticles might be a good place to start.
“Canticle” comes from the Latin word “canticulum,” which literally means “little song.” If you have joined us for our Zoom Morning Prayer services on Sundays, you will be familiar with canticles as the responses to the readings. Some canticles are seen as particularly appropriate for specific seasons, and the classic Lenten canticle is the Kyrie Pantokrator, number 14 in the Book of Common Prayer.
There are many more options recommended for Lent in the “Enriching Our Worship” supplemental materials published by the Episcopal Church in 1997. You can find the new canticles on pp. 30-41 of this pdf: https://www.churchpublishing.org/siteassets/pdf/enriching-our-worship-1/enrichingourworship1.pdf. Those that are particularly appropriate for Lent include Canticles F, H, I, L, R, and S.
I invite you to say/sing/pray these canticles as a Lenten practice this year! And here’s one of my favorites to get you started:
Canticle S – A Song of Our True Nature (from Julian of Norwich)
Christ revealed our frailty and our falling, *
our trespasses and our humiliations.
Christ also revealed his blessed power, *
his blessed wisdom and love.
He protects us as tenderly and as sweetly when we are in greatest need; *
he raises us in spirit
and turns everything to glory and joy without ending.
God is the ground and the substance, the very essence of nature; *
God is the true father and mother of natures.
We are all bound to God by nature, *
and we are all bound to God by grace.
And this grace is for all the world, *
because it is our precious mother, Christ.
For this fair nature was prepared by Christ
for the honor and nobility of all, *
and for the joy and bliss of salvation.
May we each be blessed in our prayers, and may we all have a deep and holy Lent!