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CNP Feedback - Triple Alleluia

by Gary D. Penkala

Q. Dear CNP:

My question pertains to the Easter or Triple Alleluia. Just exactly what is it?

"Praising Yahweh" But Confused.

A. Dear Confused:

The Easter (or Triple) Alleluia is a setting of the word "Alleluia" (generally three-fold, i.e. "Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia") which is to be intoned by the priest and repeated by the congregation after the Epistle at the Easter Vigil Mass. It is then intoned again on a higher pitch, and repeated by the congregation. Then intoned yet again on a higher pitch and repeated by the congregation. There follow three verses of Psalm 118 as presented in the Lectionary, with the [three-fold] Alleluia refrain being sung by the congregation after each ... then comes the Gospel proclamation.

Is there a particular or specific sung/chanted Alleluia we're supposed to use on the Easter Vigil and/or Easter Sunday?

The traditional chant melody (dating from the pre-Vatican II Missal) is found in the Liber usualis on page 759. This, strangely, is a single chanted Alleluia which is to be sung and repeated three times, each time on a higher pitch.

Or is the Alleluia supposed to be done in a certain way?

It is the pattern of singing the Alleluia(s) three times, each on a higher pitch, that is distinct about the Easter Vigil. It mimics the triple singing of the phrase, "This is the wood of the cross..." at the Good Friday service, and the triple singing of the "Light of Christ..." earlier at the Easter Vigil Mass.

My priest just left a newsletter on our organ from the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, Volume XXXIX, January 2003. In it are several pages concerning the new Missale Romanum and the Easter Vigil. I quote the following from page three:

The Missale is very specific about the priest singing the Alleluia before the Gospel: "After the Epistle has been read, all rise, and the priest solemnly intones the Alleluia three times, raising his voice a step each time. All repeat the Alleluia each time. If necessary, the psalmist intones the Alleluia."

The rubrics are clear ... the priest celebrant should intone the Alleluia at the Easter Vigil three times, each time on a higher pitch, with the congregation repeating each one. If this is not possible for the celebrant, a cantor may sing.

FYI, we've been using the Celtic Alleluia for several years now for the Responsorial Psalm (a.k.a. Gospel Acclamation) during the Easter Vigil and for Easter Sunday as well. Should we be doing something different, or differently for these two most solemn occasions?

The Celtic Alleluia may be used: perhaps first in F Major, then in G Major, then in A Major (and continuing to the proper verses from Psalm 118). Actually, any familiar Alleluia setting can be used -- it's the format that's distinct.

CanticaNOVA Publications has a unique product that takes care of all the modulating, and adds a short trumpet & organ processional and the verses for the cantor. It's our Easter Vigil Gospel Processional. It uses a simple, familiar Alleluia melody (G-A-B-G__ A-B-A-G-E__D__ G-A-B-A-G-G__). This is not the fancy Alleluia (Liber usualis p.759) used at the old Holy Saturday Mass before the Gospel reading. It is another Alleluia melody associated with the same pre-Vatican II Mass (it was the anitphon for the singing of Psalm 117) which has become very familiar these days. The CNP setting is by Bill Greene, a master at liturgical writing.

This "chanting three times on higher pitches" is reserved for the Easter Vigil only. It is not the rubric for Easter Sunday, whose Alleluia is handled like every other Sunday outside of Lent.

Hope this clarifies the situation!

CanticaNOVA Publications / PO Box 1388 / Charles Town, WV 25414-7388
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