Who Should Sing the Exsultet

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

Q: Is there a reason for a priest to sing the Exsultet even if a deacon is present who can sing it, just because the priest wants to do it himself? — L.E., Oxon Hill, Maryland

A: The rubrics in the missal state quite clearly:

"The Easter proclamation may be made, in the absence of a Deacon, by the priest himself or by another concelebrating priest. If, however, because of necessity, a lay cantor sings the proclamation, the words Therefore, dearest friends up to the end of the invitation are omitted, along with the greeting The Lord be with you."

This rubric implies several things. One is the preference for the Exsultet to be sung. This is why, when necessary, a lay cantor can substitute a priest and deacon if they are unable to sing the proclamation.

Second, all things considered, the proper and preferred minister to sing the Exsultet is the deacon.
Therefore, a priest should not replace a sufficiently qualified deacon and certainly not just because he prefers to sing it himself.

It is always possible, however, that a particular deacon (or priest) overestimates his singing ability, and a musically literate priest realizes that a relatively difficult piece such as the Exsultet is really beyond him. He may therefore decide to sing it himself out of respect for the dignity of the most solemn celebration of the liturgical year, and also so as to save the deacon a moment of embarrassment before the entire parish community.

A blessed Easter to all!

This article has been selected from the ZENIT Daily Dispatch
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