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Living Liturgy: We have something to sing about

By Julie Kelly, Catholic Outlook, April 2010

Julie Kelly
Easter is finally upon us … and we are exhausted; exhausted before we even start out for the Easter Masses.

We have organised family get-togethers; we have arranged what we need for the long holiday; we have battled through full carparks; and we have stood in long lines at the supermarket.

Then we band together to clean the church, to prepare the Easter fire, put cardboard on candles and sit with catechumens in the ‘empty tomb’.  The community is abuzz with activity.  We have also spent the Lenten season in spiritual renewal. We have accompanied catechumens towards their Baptism and led the way by searching ourselves for that which is broken in our sinful lives through fasting, prayer and giving of ourselves to others in their need.  

At the Chrism Mass the people of the Diocese of Parramatta witnessed our clergy renewing their commitment to us as God’s holy people, and after the oils were blessed and Chrism consecrated, each parish community collected a portion so that together with our clergy we can continue to minister.

Together we have come through the turbulent emotions of Holy Week – the excitement of Palm Sunday, the touching Last Supper, the agony of Good Friday and the numb grief of Holy Saturday when we rest in the stillness of the empty tomb.  

No song was more significant or chant more beautifully crafted than the hymn in praise of the Paschal candle. Photo: Hamilton Lund.
No wonder we are exhausted. But we come at last to the greatest festival of the Christian year. We are indeed ready to sing the great song of Easter joy – the Exultet or Easter Proclamation at the Vigil.

Rejoice, heavenly powers! Sing, choirs of angels! Just as you did at Christ’s birth. Proclaim Jesus Christ, our King, is risen! Sound the trumpet of salvation! 

No song was more significant or chant more beautifully crafted than the hymn in praise of the  Paschal candle sung in the liturgy of Holy Saturday.  After the new fire is blessed, after the towering new Paschal candle has been set ablaze, after we have lit our small candles and processed into the church do we burst into a song proclaiming great joy and salvation, because indeed Christ is risen. 

This is the night we sing that the pillar of fire destroyed the darkness of sin … when Christians everywhere, washed clean of sin and freed from all defilement, are restored to grace and grow together in holiness.

This is the night when Jesus Christ broke the chains of death and rose triumphant from the grave.  

The Exultet comes to us from the first centuries of Christianity. It is a ‘cousin’ of the Eucharistic Prayer as it recalls the greatness of God, includes a dialogue with the assembly as in the introduction to a preface, and concludes with an offering – an offering of the Paschal candle to God – a flame divided but undimmed, a pillar of fire that glows to the honor of God. 

The text expresses the meaning of Easter. It invites heaven, earth, and the church to rejoice in this feast. It recalls Israel's exodus, then it proclaims a new ‘exodus’.   

New Christians cross through water from slavery to freedom, and all the church shares in the rising of Christ.

Easter is the most blessed of nights, the night of Passover, Baptism, resurrection, and redemption. In joy we offer God our Easter candle, a pillar of fire, mingling with the lights of heaven, a candle which will meet Christ, the Morning Star, whose resurrection forever dispels darkness.

So let us sing loudly this Easter of joy and salvation because we do indeed have something to sing about. 

Have a happy and safe Easter.

Words in italic are quotes from the Exultet, which can be said.

Julie Kelly is Diocesan Co-ordinator for Sacraments of Initiation for Children & Adults (RCIA) and Officer for Liturgical Formation, tel (02) 8838 3416,

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