Although Lent is a very sombre season, it doesn’t have to be devoid of music.  In fact, some music can help us to enter more deeply into the season.

One Lenten hymn that always comes to my mind is the Stabat Mater Dolorosa.  It is a Medieval hymn about the suffering Mary underwent during the Passion and death of Christ.  At my parish, we sing the verses in between the Stations of the Cross on Fridays.

There have been a number of very beautiful settings of the hymn.  Here are links to a couple of my favorites; these are both first movements (there are different movements for each stanza).

This one is by the late-Baroque composer Giovanni Battista Pergolesi (1710-1736).  As you see he died very young, and this year’s 4 January was his 300th birthday.  Pergolesi is one of my favorite composers, and one that I enjoy introducing people to!  His Stabat Mater is probably his best known work, and considered one of the finest musical settings of the hymn.

This one is by the 20th-century composer Francis Poulenc (1899-1963), another one of my favorite composers.

Although written in different eras, both have a sublime, sombre, timeless, and haunting beauty.  I find they really open up my soul, no matter how busy I may be or how absorbed in mundane affairs.

Hence, I think that listening to these and other Lenten musical works will play a big role in this year’s Lenten Lesson!

Please feel free to comment on some of your favorite Lenten music!  I will try to feature some throughout the season.