A ZENIT DAILY DISPATCH

The Double Alleluia

ROME, 8 APRIL 2008 (ZENIT)

Answered by Legionary of Christ Father Edward McNamara, professor of liturgy at the Regina Apostolorum university.

Q: Please clarify whether the Mass dismissal should have the double Alleluia attached to it throughout the 50 days of the Easter season, e.g., "The Mass is ended. Go in peace. Alleluia! Alleluia!" or only during the Easter octave and the day of Pentecost. R.L., Cambridge, Massachusetts

A: According to the indications of the rubrics and good liturgical guidelines, the double Alleluia is used at every Mass during the Easter octave and on Pentecost Sunday, which concludes the Easter season.

The double Alleluia is also used for the dismissal or conclusion of the celebration of morning prayer and evening prayer, up to and including the vespers of Divine Mercy Sunday which concludes the Easter octave.

On all the other days of Easter season the Alleluia is not added to the dismissal of either Mass or Liturgy of the Hours.

In some countries, however, the missal contains optional formulas for the dismissal, according to the liturgical season. For example: "May the Risen Lord be our strength, go in peace."

Wherever permitted, such formulas may be used on any day of the Easter season. If used during the octave or Pentecost, the double Alleluia is always added.

The use of the double Alleluia, as well as the faculty of using the Easter sequence "Victimae Paschali" and the special formulas inserted into the Eucharistic Prayers during the days of the octave, are ways of emphasizing the importance of the feast and prolonging its celebration.

The use of this double Alleluia is very old, but during the Middle Ages it was dropped for a time from the liturgy in use by the Roman Curia. It returned through the influence of the Franciscan Friars Minor who restored the double Alleluia for their own liturgical books in 1243.

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Follow-up: The Double Alleluia [4/22/2008]

After our column on the double Alleluia (see April 8) another question came to mind on the use of Alleluia during Lent.

A reader from the Philippines wrote: "On the feast of the Chair of St. Peter, the sister in charge of the liturgy led us in singing the Alleluia for the Gospel acclamation. She explained that the said feast was an exception to the rule of not singing the Alleluia during Lent. Is this correct? If there are indeed exceptions, what are these occasions?"

I fear that the good sister was misinformed. The Alleluia is never used during Lent, not even on solemnities such as the Annunciation and St. Joseph, which often fall during this season.

Perhaps she was confused with the practice of the Gloria which, unlike the Alleluia, is used on solemnities and feasts even during Lent.

The Alleluia (which means "Praise the Lord") also came to be understood as a foretaste of the elect's eternal joy and not just as an expression of God's praise.

This joy is above all a fruit of Christ's resurrection, and indeed there is some historical evidence that the Alleluia was originally an exclusively Easter piece which was sung from Easter to Pentecost.

Although it later came to be used in other periods of the year, its prominently Easter character led to its never being sung during the Lenten preparation for Easter.
 

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