no alleluiaAh, the start of Lent. The day in the liturgical year that many well-intentioned church goers mistakenly say the verboten “A-word.” You know how it goes. After the breaking of the bread at the altar the celebrant says, “Christ our Passover is sacrificed for us.” And everyone replies “Therefore let us keep the feast. Allelu….oops.”

In fairness, some members of the congregation have been lulled to sleep by the smooth, monotone of the priest as he/she blesses the bread and wine. Out of habit, that word just slips out. If this has happened to you, you may recall the disapproving glances and rampant judging by your fellow pew mates. You can either turn beet red, laugh self-consciously, run screaming out of the church until Easter, or…let me help you.

You see, out of pastoral concern for my fellow Christians (it is Ash Wednesday after all), I’ve come up with a short list of words you can say if you catch yourself in time. Once you realize you’re the only one who has vigorously proclaimed “Allelu…” you can add these ending to change direction and save face. Here goes.

Allelu…ke Skywalker

Allelu…nar eclipse





Allelu…theran (works better if you actually are one)

Allelu…re me in but don’t take advantage of me

The only one I’d caution you against would be Allelu…cifer. That might get you in trouble with the priest.

12 Comments on ““Allelu…oops””

  1. Katrina Soto says:

    So timely. Just this morning, the worship leader of the online morning prayer remarked at the start of the service that today is the day we begin the ban on the A word, and then promptly added it after the opening sentence. We all had a good-natured chuckle.

  2. Verdery says:

    More than once I’ve heard one of our priests stumble over it, especially at the dismissal. By that time even they’re on autopilot.

  3. Relling says:

    A few years ago, Bishop Ed Little included Alleluia as he celebrated the Ash Wednesday service at the Cathedral of St. James. He kept right on going, and there were no gasps from the parishioners because Bishop Ed (as he styles himself) is a very popular guy.

  4. Rick Morley says:

    I totally slipped today at the midmorning Eucharist at our nearby Continuing Care Center. In my defense I was at the train station at 5:30am offering ashes, and I’m a little tired.

  5. Elaine Culver says:

    I recent years I have heard a priest say the “A” word before “Christ our Passover….” No one looked shocked, and no one giggled. We love him for being fallible, along with us.

  6. linda says:

    thanks for the allelu..ternate words. no one will burn in hell for accidently saying it. at least i don’t think so. and each day i get a “let us Bless The Lord, Alleluia” from Barbara Crafton. We write back -usually until today -Thanks be to God, Alleluia. so today there was no alleluia and i am hoping it sunk in.

  7. Cynthia Hallas says:

    The choir of a church I once attended, needing to rehearse Easter music during Lent, would substitute “jalapeno” for…well, you know.

  8. Kathy Eppick says:

    We’re in triple trouble at my church… When it’s not Lent we usually say 3 “A” words (one is rarely enough). During Lent when we can’t contain ourselves, we cut loose with “Hotdog!” (an “H” word that is allowable).

  9. Lynn Wilson says:

    Many years ago, we attended a church that would switch from its usual Rite II service on Sunday morning to Rite I during Lent. I would sometimes find myself during Lent absent-mindedly answering the priest’s, “The Lord be with you,” with, “And also with you,” while everyone else responded properly with a self-satisfied smile, “And with thy spirit.” After the first such faux pas I would make sure I said the right response from then on…until it would happen again. Eventually, I learned I could modify my mistake with, “And also with…er…thy spirit!” And thus, Rite One-and-a-Half was born!

  10. This is particularly challenging for choir members who, of necessity, continue to sing the A word in preparation for the culmination of the season.

  11. Same here, Lynn! When I visit my parents and go to Mass, I’m so on auto-pilot for “And also with you” that it takes me the first couple of tries to remember “thy spirit” instead. My folks just good-naturedly pat me on the head; I’m Methodist, after all, what do I know.

  12. linda says:

    hotdog and jalapeno- another reason i love the Episcopal church!

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