“You have given them Bread from Heaven, alleluia” or in countless other instances, I rejoice in being able to once again use the “a word.”
This morning at Mass, we sang an “Eight-Fold Alleluia” where this ejaculation of praise is repeated eight times before the gospel. You might say, we are making up for lost time; during the season of Lent, the “a word” is not permitted in liturgical use.
The word Alleluia has been set to countless musical scores and used in numerous hymns over the centuries. In more recent years, it has even been adopted in secular music in a popular song entitled with the Hebrew version of the word; Halleluiah.
Now, during Easter, we are inundated with this ancient word, which means “Praise the Lord. We are invited to use it as an alternative refrain in the responsorial psalm, at the dismissal at the end of Mass, and in countless other liturgical moments during this season.
Contrary to popular belief, Easter is not over. It lasts through the Feast of Pentecost. We can use this phrase with abandon throughout this fifty-day period. We are in good company doing so. The psalms are full of exhortations to praise God.
“The prayer of the psalms is always sustained by praise; that is why the title of this collection as handed down to us is so fitting: “The Praises.” Collected for the assembly’s worship, the Psalter both sounds the call to prayer and sings the response to that call: Hallelu-Yah! (“Alleluia”), “Praise the Lord!”
What is more pleasing than a psalm? David expresses it well: “Praise the Lord, for a psalm is good: let there be praise of our God with gladness and grace!” Yes, a psalm is a blessing on the lips of the people, praise of God, the assembly’s homage, a general acclamation, a word that speaks for all, the voice of the Church, a confession of faith in song. (CCC 2589)
Now that Christ is risen, we have even more reason to praise God. He has done so much for us!
It is fitting, too, that the Alleluia be used extensively at the Mass, the celebration of the Eucharist, for
“The Eucharist is also the sacrifice of praise by which the Church sings the glory of God in the name of all creation. This sacrifice of praise is possible only through Christ: he unites the faithful to his person, to his praise, and to his intercession, so that the sacrifice of praise to the Father is offered through Christ and with him, to be accepted in him.” (CCC 1361)
This beautiful phrase is even used in the book of Revelation, where the assembly is praising God.
St. Augustine even refers to this phrase of praise. He poignantly reflects that “a Christian should be an Alleluia from head to foot”
At Easter, we are reminded of this.
I really enjoy this aspect of the season. Whether it be as we begin Vespers and we get to include Alleluia after the opening doxology or at Benediction, when the priest proclaims: “You have given them Bread from Heaven, alleluia” or in countless other instances, I rejoice in being able to once again use the “a word.”