Lent by Christine Westhoff

As a musician Lent and Holy Week are among my favorite times. The Church teaches us that Lent is a period of self-denial and penitence. We don’t sing Alleluia and the Gloria is omitted. As a singer, however, Lent is a time when there is an abundance of wonderful music which I look forward to with great anticipation.

Composers have always expressed deep emotion through their music. Every period of music history has produced music of love and grief in the secular world. Renaissance madrigals, Romantic lieder and opera all rely on these themes. Sacred music is the same in many respects but different because the object of our love is so much more profound. The emotional states of needing forgiveness, feeling the love of God, and falling on one’s knees in a state of fervent prayer are all heightened through beautiful music that deepens our experience of God.

So for me Lent is not a period of musical self-denial at all. The soaring notes of Allegri’s Miserere or the simplicity of the great spiritual, Were you there?, the majesty of the arias in the Passions of Bach, and the timeless solos in Handel’s Messiah all give me a wonder and joy which I hope to share with those who hear me. I pray that God speaks through my singing of some of the richest and most meaningful music ever composed.

Lent for me is a period of intense prayer. Words alone are always insufficient to declare my love for God and my thankfulness for what he did for me in the events of Holy Week. St Augustine’s oft- quoted “He who sings prays twice” is never truer for me than in this period.

Easter always is full of joy but, strangely enough, there is not so much music to choose from. It has always amused me that composers do sadness so much more effectively than happiness!

May we all have a Blessed Lent, Holy Week and Easter and may all our music making glorify our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Soli Deo Gloria.

 

Christine Westhoff is an internationally known soprano who has sung all over the United States as well as in Europe. A St Louis native and cradle Roman Catholic, Christine’s recordings have reached  a worldwide audience through sales on iTunes, Amazon, Pandora and other online platforms. Later this year she will undertake another tour of the UK to mark the release of three new albums. https://www.christinewesthoff.com