Saturday, April 23, 2011


The Exultet: The Easter Vigil Proclamation of the Western Church

Above: A medieval depiction of the reading of the Exultet:

Rejoice, heavenly powers! Sing choirs of angels!
Exult, all creation around God's throne!
Jesus Christ, our King is risen!
Sound the trumpet of salvation!

Rejoice, O earth, in shining splendor,
radiant in the brightness of your King!
Christ has conquered! Glory fills you!
Darkness vanishes for ever!

Rejoice, O Mother Church! Exult in glory!
The risen Savior shines upon you!
Let this place resound with joy,
echoing the mighty song of all God's people!

My dearest friends,
standing with me in this holy light,
join me in asking God for mercy,
that he may give his unworthy minister
grace to sing his Easter praises.

The Lord be with you.
And also with you.
Lift up your hearts.
We lift them up to the Lord.
Let us give thanks to the Lord our God.
It is right to give him thanks and praise.
It is truly right that with full hearts and minds and voices
we should praise the unseen God, the all-powerful Father,
and his only Son, our Lord Jesus Christ.

For Christ has ransomed us with his blood,
and paid for us the price of Adam's sin to our eternal Father!

This is our passover feast,
When Christ, the true Lamb, is slain,
whose blood consecrates the homes of all believers.

This is the night,
when first you saved our fathers:
you freed the people of Israel from their slav'ry,
and led them dry-shod through the sea.

This is the night,
when the pillar of fire destroyed the darkness of sin.

This is night,
when Christians ev'rywhere,
washed clean of sin and freed from all defilement,
are restored to grace and grow together in holiness.

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

What good would life have been to us,
had Christ not come as our Redeemer?

Father, how wonderful your care for us!
How boundless your merciful love!
To ransom a slave you gave away your Son.

O happy fault, O necessary sin of Adam,
which gained for us so great a Redeemer!

Most blessed of all nights,
chosen by God to see Christ rising from the dead!

Of this night scripture says:
"The night will be as clear as day:
it will become my light, my joy."

The power of this holy night dispels all evil,
washes guilt away, restores lost innocence,
brings mourners joy;
it casts out hatred, brings us peace,
and humbles earthly pride.

Night truly blessed,
when heaven is wedded to earth
and we are reconciled to God!

Therefore, heavenly Father, in the joy of this night,
receive our evening sacrifice of praise,
your Church's solemn offering.

Accept this Easter candle,
a flame divided but undimmed,
a pillar of fire that glows to the honor of God.

Let it mingle with the lights of heaven
and continue bravely burning
to dispel the darkness of this night!

May the Morning Star which never sets
find this flame still burning:
Christ, that Morning Star,
who came back from the dead,
and shed his peaceful light on all mankind,
your Son, who lives and reigns for ever and ever. Amen.

Christos Anesti: The Paschal Troparion,
Easter hymn of the Eastern Orthodox Church.

Χριστὸς ἀνέστη ἐκ νεκρῶν,
θανάτῳ θάνατον πατήσας,
καὶ τοῖς ἐν τοῖς μνήμασι,
ζωὴν χαρισάμενος!

Christós anésti ek nekrón,
thanáto thánaton patísas,
ké tís en tís mnímasi,
zoín charisámenos!
Christ is risen from the dead,
Trampling down death by death,
And upon those in the tombs
Bestowing life!
Christos anesti (Χριστός ἀνέστη!) - "Christ is Risen!"
Alithos anesti (Ἀληθῶς ἀνέστη!) - "He Has Risen Indeed!")


  1. I love the medieval depiction of the reading of the Exultet that you displayed in the post. To be honest, I love almost all medieval illuminated manuscripts. But this was a theme I didn't know before.

    Do you know which manuscript it came from and the year in which it was made?

  2. I am afraid I haven't been able to identitfy which manuscript this section is taken from. It probably relates to the reading of one of the Exultet rolls. The most well known rolls of which sections are still extent are the southern Italian rolls. At least as early as the fourth century, it was common practice in the Western Church to intone a solemn hymn of praise at the time of the blessing of the Easter Candle during the Easter Vigil. As the text begins with the exhortation: Exultet iam angelica turba caelorum (Rejoice now, all you heavenly choirs of angels) the hymn is commonly called the Exultet.  Probably due to strong Byzantine influence in Southern Italy, liturgical practices there evolved differently from the rest of the Catholic empire. In particular the liturgical roll was still much used in the tenth century, especially on solemn occasions (as opposed to a codex. The rolls were read from the ambo, an elevated lectern facing the people in the church. During the tenth century, under a renewed effort at unification of liturgical practices by Pope Gregory VII, the Beneventan liturgy was replaced by the Roman liturgy. This meant that the official text of the Exultet now replaced the local text on the liturgical roll.  The text was written in the opposite direction to the illustrations, as was usual for such rolls. The explanation being that as the deacon stood in the ambo, he would allow the roll to hang over the railing so that the congregation could follow what he was saying by means of the pictures in front of them. No complete rolls remains. 


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