A detailed look at the Paschal Proclamation, or paschal praeconium. It is called the Exsultet or Exultet for the first word of the prayer. This is sung during the Easter Vigil with the Paschal Candle. Included is the text from the liturgy. This triumphant hymn and wonderful sacramental is the prelude to the Easter solemnities.

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A detailed look at the Paschal Proclamation, or paschal praeconium. It is called the Exsultet or Exultet for the first word of the prayer. This is sung during the Easter Vigil with the Paschal Candle.

Included is the text from the liturgy. This triumphant hymn and wonderful sacramental is the prelude to the Easter solemnities. It is a majestic proclamation of the Resurrection of Christ, a dramatic invitation to heaven and earth to join with the Church in joy and jubilation. It is the rite of sanctification of light and night, of place and time, of priest and faithful for the celebration of the Resurrection of our Lord.

In itself, it is a symbolic representation of the Resurrection of Christ, a sacramental, preparing for and anticipating the reenactment of the Resurrection in the eucharistic Sacrifice. This Easter-sacramental is a jewel of the liturgy, brilliant in content and composition, in its symbolism and efficacy. The hymn is filled with profound theology, radiant with youthful enthusiasm, flowing in the most solemn rhythms of the psalms, resounding in the most jubilant cadences of Gregorian chant.

This sacramental, based on the ritual of the Old Testament and containing as it does venerable relics of apostolic tradition, reflects and transmits to us an echo of the glorified joy of early Christianity. Origin And Historical Development The ritual lamp lit in the Synagogue at the close of the Sabbath and the evening sacrifice of light and incense ordained by God to be offered in the Temple, these are the rites of the Old Testament which constitute the origin of the Christian Lucernarium , or the service of "lighting of lamps.

In the tabernacle of the testimony without the veil, which is before the testimony, Aaron and his sons shall order it from evening to morning before the Lord Ex. And thou shalt put it the altar of incense before the veil And Aaron shall burn thereon sweet incense every morning: when he dresseth the lamp, he shall burn incense upon it. And when Aaron lighteth the lamps at even he shall burn incense upon it Ex.

The first Christians regarded the evening sacrifice of the Temple as a prophetic type of the Sacrifice of our Lord, who expired at the exact hour of its offering. They found this interpretation confirmed in Ps.

The vigil from Saturday to Sunday in particular was celebrated in commemoration of the Resurrection, and above all this was the case with the Easter vigil. The solemn vigil of Easter, the first in origin and dignity, was obligatory for all the faithful from the very beginning, not only as the anniversary of the Resurrection, but also because the Parousia of Christ was expected to take place on the night of the Resurrection.

Based as it was on these traditions, the lighting of the vigil lights was from its very beginning considered as a sacred function, as a heritage and continuation of the Old Testament rite of the evening sacrifice of light. This lighting of the lights, especially for the Saturday vigil and for the most solemn vigil of Easter, was then interpreted by the first Christians explicitly as a symbol of the Resurrection.

There is, perhaps, an implicit reference to the Lucernarium in the statement in the Acts of the Apostles that the room was brilliantly lighted with a great number of lamps on the occasion of the sermon of St. Paul: "And there were many lights in the upper chamber, where they were gathered together. The Apostolic Constitutions 8, 35 mention the Lucernarium as marking the beginning of the solemn Saturday vigil, and speak of Psalm , said regularly at these vigils, as the " Psalmus Lucernalis.

In the presence of the clergy, of the monks and of all the people, a light which had been kept burning in the holy Sepulchre was brought forth and from it were lighted the lamps which hung from the ceiling of the basilica in great number—"fit lumen infinitum.

From this Lucernarium there developed two distinct rites: the daily Vespers, and the solemn Easter Lucernarium , or the Benedictio Cerei the blessing of the candle. In the Byzantine Vespers the ancient tradition of the Lucernarium is still kept alive through the use of Psalm as one of the regular Vesper psalms, and by means of the famous hymn " Phos hilaron " to the evening lamp: Hail, gladdening light, of His pure glory poured Who is immortal Father, heavenly, blest, Holiest of holies, Jesus Christ, our Lord.

Now we have come to the sun's hour rest, The lights of evening round us shine, We hymn the Father, Son and Holy Ghost divine. Worthiest art Thou at all times to be sung With undefiled tongue, Son of God, giver of life alone!

Therefore in all the world Thy glories, Lord, Thy own. The Roman Church eliminated the rite of the regular Lucernarium about the end of the third century. In the Churches outside Rome it was continued, and developed into several variants. The Lucernarium on Holy Saturday in particular was celebrated with great solemnity.

The light which had to be kindled for the reading from the ambo was singled out for this special ceremony. The special prayers for the blessing of this candle were called " Laus Cerei, " or "Praise of the Candle. The Laus Cerei is mentioned by St. Jerome about the year Presidius, a deacon of Piacenza, had asked the Saint to compose such a text of blessing for him, but Jerome considered it an abuse that mere deacons should perform the Laus Cerei , while bishops and priests bad to remain silent.

Rome re-introduced the rite of the Lucernarium about the middle of the seventh century in the form of the Holy Saturday " Benedictio Cerei. The present rites of the blessing of the fire, of the procession and its " Lumen Christi, " and of the blessing of the Easter candle, present a fusion of three variants of the original Lucernarium as they had been developed by the different Churches.

The Laus Cerei as found in the Roman Missal was perhaps composed in the fifth century, certainly not later than the seventh. Parts of it go back to the fourth century. Language, rhythm, and ideas show the influence of St. It was formerly ascribed to St. The Exsultet is the proclamation of the beginning of Easter and the invitation to celebrate the Paschal mysteries; therefore, it is in the form of a gospel. It is the blessing and oblation of light, a sacrificial rite; therefore, in the form of an anaphora.

As gospel it is introduced by the same blessing which the celebrant gives to the deacon before the chanting of the gospel of the Mass. The term " Paschale praeconium " Paschal praise , used in this blessing, indicates the nature of the Exsultet as the great song acclaiming the risen Christ. The rubrics ordain that the faithful stand as for the gospel " Surgentibus omnibus, et stantibus, ut fit ad Evangelium ".

The deacon is clad in a white dalmatic representing the angel at the tomb who announced the glad tidings, "He is risen, as he said," and of whom St. Matthew remarks, "His countenance was like lightning, and his raiment white as snow" Matt.

The Exsultet is further introduced with words alluding to the message of the angel in Bethlehem, and to the Easter message of the angel at the tomb, and also to the proclamation of the seventh angel of the Apocalypse. The message to the shepherds began with the words: "Fear not: for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy" Luke ; the angel at the tomb said: "Do not be afraid" Matt.

In like manner the herald of the Paschale Praeconium begins with an exhortation to joy, whence the name Exsultet. The announcement with the trumpet by the seventh angel of the Apocalypse, "The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ" Apoc.

The invitation to joy of the Exsultet is worded after Psalm , the last of the Hallel psalms. Verse 24b of this Psalm, "This is the day which the Lord has made; we will rejoice and be glad, in it," is distinctly echoed in the words " Exsultet. Laetetur " synonyms for "rejoice" as well as in the seven-fold solemn declaration, "This is the night Note: The parallelism in structure between the Praeconium and the Reproaches of Good Friday is intended by the composers.

The Praeconium , the more ancient composition, has influenced the structure of the Reproaches. Inasmuch as it is an important sacramental and a symbolic sacrificial rite, the Exsultet is composed, secondly, in the most solemn liturgical form of an anaphora, or "canon.

Our interpretation of it can follow the clearly distinguishable parts: Orate Fratres , preface, preconsecratory invocation, oblation, anamnesis, postconsecratory invocation, great intercession, doxology.

Invocate" Orate Fratres In the " Orate Fratres " at Mass the offering priest requests the prayer of the congregation that God may by consecration accept the sacrifice.

In the present case the deacon requests the prayer of the congregated brethren, " fratres. An invitation is extended also to the angels, to the "divine Mysteries," to the earth, and to the Church, to join in joy and jubilation: " Exsultet jam " — let them rejoice now , because it is the time to rejoice, the night and the hour of the anniversary of the Resurrection, of its reenactment.

In the invitation to "the heavenly hosts of angels" we hear an allusion to St. Luke "And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God. On the parasceve namely, at the hour of the evening sacrifice, a sign was given with a trumpet from the pinnacle of the Temple for the beginning of the slaughter of the paschal lamb.

And divine Providence ordained that this same trumpet should proclaim simultaneously the consummation of the evening sacrifice upon the Cross.

The "trumpet of salvation" refers likewise to the trumpet of the seventh angel in the Apocalypse who is to proclaim the completion of the kingdom of Christ. This reference to the final judgment and to the time when Christ "shall reign forever and ever" Apoc.

The radiance and lightnings and splendor of brightness about which the earth is rejoicing associate the light of the Lucernarium with the scene of the Resurrection where the angel's "countenance was like lightning" Matt.

The terms recall moreover — again an eschatological orientation — the luminous cloud and the lightnings of the second coming. Finally the Church rejoices over the illumination by the Easter candle as a symbol of her own supernatural illumination by the risen Christ.

Preface It is this part of the Exsultet which primarily justifies its name of " Paschale Praeconium ," i. The theme of this Paean of Praise is proposed in Pauline terminology cf. We are called upon to sing the praises of the invisible God the almighty Father, and of our Lord Jesus Christ who by His work of Redemption has paid to the eternal Father Adam's debt.

This Work of Redemption opus redemptionis is proclaimed in its aspects of type and antitype, with emphasis on the mystery of Resurrection; it is portrayed in its cause and effect, in its ultimate and proximate motive. Both cause and effect are declared by means of seven propositions — corresponding to the seven lamps of the golden candlestick of the Temple with the seven lights of the evening sacrifice, corresponding in turn to the seven candles which were lit from the Easter candle itself we find this rite described in Ordo Romanus I , eighth century.

The Work of Redemption is announced in the present tense: "This is the festival of the Pasch. The first three proclamations refer to three types of the night of Resurrection implying in each case their realization in the latter : the night of the Egyptian Pasch, the night of the passage through the Red Sea, and the night of the journey through the desert, which was illuminated by the pillar of fire, symbolically represented by the Easter candle.

The remaining four proclamations refer exclusively to the antitype. The first or fourth, in the list of seven proposes the redemptive work as a whole, as the physical and spiritual, supernatural illumination of the universe by Christ.

The second or fifth of the seven forms the climax in this part of the Song: "This is the night in which, having burst through the bonds of death, Christ doth rise victorious from hell. Paul, about the motives of the Redemption cf. The ultimate motive is expressed in the words: "O wonderful condescension of mercy! O incomparable predilection of love! O happy fault After the parenthetical listing of the motives of Redemption the two final declarations about the night of Resurrection are added.

Number six speaks of the time and hour of the Resurrection, with an allusion to the second coming of Christ as described in Matt. The seventh recalls a prophecy about the glorious night of Resurrection an accommodation of Ps. So far the Preface. Preconsecratory Invocation The actual blessing of the candle begins with the insertion of five grains of blessed incense in the form of a cross, symbolizing the five wounds in the body of Christ, and the following invocation.

This invocation is directed to the heavenly Father and asks for acceptance of "the evening sacrifice of this incense. It should be noted, that the words incensi huius " originally did not refer to the grains of incense, but to the oblation of the lighted candle itself. Even in the present context they do not mean exclusively the grains of incense. After the invocation for acceptance there follows the central act of oblation: the lighting of the candle.

To the accompaniment of a poetic passage containing probably a quotation from Virgil about the "mother bee," a symbol of the virginal birth of the Redeemer, the altar candles are then lit from the Easter candle.


The Exsultet

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Easter Proclamation (Exsultet)

Read a commentary on the Exsultet by Father Michael J. E xult, let them exult, the hosts of heaven, exult, let Angel ministers of God exult, let the trumpet of salvation sound aloud our mighty King's triumph! Be glad, let earth be glad, as glory floods her, ablaze with light from her eternal King, let all corners of the earth be glad, knowing an end to gloom and darkness. Rejoice, let Mother Church also rejoice, arrayed with the lightning of his glory, let this holy building shake with joy, filled with the mighty voices of the peoples. Therefore, dearest friends, standing in the awesome glory of this holy light, invoke with me, I ask you, the mercy of God almighty, that he, who has been pleased to number me, though unworthy, among the Levites, may pour into me his light unshadowed, that I may sing this candle's perfect praises. The Lord be with you.

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