Lent is not especially known for its music, but Allegri’s Miserere captures the season’s grace, sorrow, and repentance better than any other. More information about the music can be found here , including a translation of the Vulgate text. The clip below contains all but one of the verses, and is sung by King’s College Choir under the direction of Stephen Cleobury. (Notice how the boy soprano soars to the high C with almost no visible effort.)

But not all Lenten music need be somber. Some find joy in their mourning: A few years ago a friend of mine sent me these lyrics, which can be sung to the tune of “These Are a Few of My Favorite Things.”

Sackcloth and ashes and days without eating,
Mortification and wailing and weeping,
A hair shirt that scratches, a nettle that stings —
These are a few of my favorite things!

Penitence, flagellants, memento mori ,
Spending nights sleeping on rocks in a quarry,
The sound of a cloaked solemn cantor who sings —
These are still more of my favorite things!

Tossing and turning and yearning, I’m spurning!
Passions aflame like an ember-day burning,
Corpus and carnis and wild drunken flings —
Forsaken are they for my favorite things!

When it’s Christmas,
When the tree’s lit,
When the cards are sent . . .
I simply remember my favorite things —
And then I can’t waaaaaaaaait ‘til Lent!

Articles by Nathaniel Peters

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