Can I play the organ during Lent? (Plus free music download!)

February 4, 2024 | by Neil Weston


As we embark upon another calendar year, we find ourselves in the midst of the richest days of the liturgical calendar. We have completed the mystical journey of Advent and shared the joy of Christmas, and we now move quickly through Epiphany to Lent, Holy Week, and Easter.

The organ is unique among all instruments in its ability to define different moods in a profoundly affecting way. With joy, awe, mystery, and poignancy, the organ speaks in infinitely contrasting ways, allowing the church to experience more deeply the profound lessons of the liturgical year.

With diligence and care, Noel Jones has, once again, put together a compilation of superb organ music which will help you to more effectively support the liturgical journey of your own parish.

We start with Epiphany, that supremely mystical feast in which the true nature of Christ is fully manifested. Noel has chosen some wonderful music that will allow you to support the celebration of this solemnity with confidence.

For the period of Ordinary Time which follows we have a wide selection of music which should provide you with everything you need for the weeks leading up to Ash Wednesday.

The General Instruction of the Roman Missal forbids the use of the organ at mass for anything other than to accompany singing during the season of Lent:

“In Lent the playing of the organ and musical instruments is allowed only in order to support the singing. Exceptions, however, are Laetare Sunday (Fourth Sunday of Lent), Solemnities, and Feasts.”

Therefore, preludes and postlude should not be played at Mass during Lent.

We have, however, included music for Lent for those parishes which require music for Penance Services and other extra-liturgical activities where subdued music would be appropriate.

However, we urge all parish musicians to follow the directive of the General Instruction when it comes to the Mass, and allow silence to mark most effectively the penitential nature of the season.

We include a few pieces for Easter at the conclusion of this volume for Easter Day itself. The next issue of the Quarterly will include music for the rest of Eastertide.

~ Neil Weston