13 EXSULTET: Triumphant Song of Praise - Leon Bent

posted Apr 16, 2019, 8:38 AM by Neil D'Souza   [ updated Apr 16, 2019, 8:38 AM ]
The Exsultet is a triumphant hymn of praise, a Paschal or Easter Proclamation, a lengthy chant, a panegyric, a prelude to the Easter solemnities. It is a majestic song of the Resurrection of Christ, a dramatic invitation to heaven and earth to join with the Church in joy and jubilation. It is the rite of sanctification of light and night, of place and time, of priest and faithful for the celebration of the Resurrection of our Lord. In itself, it is a symbolic representation of the Resurrection of Christ, a sacramental, a preparing for, and anticipating of, the re-enactment of the Resurrection in the Eucharistic Sacrifice.

This Easter sacramental is a jewel of the liturgy, brilliant in content and composition, in its symbolism and efficacy. The hymn is filled with profound theology, radiant with youthful enthusiasm, flowing in the most solemn rhythms of the Psalms, resounding in the most jubilant cadences of Gregorian chant. This sacramental, based on the ritual of the Old Testament and containing as it does, venerable relics of Apostolic Tradition, reflects and transmits to us an echo of the glorified joy of early Christianity.

The Exsultet is the proclamation of the beginning of Easter and the invitation to celebrate the Paschal mysteries; therefore, it is in the form of a Gospel. It is the blessing and oblation of light, a sacrificial rite; therefore, in the form of an anaphora (a repetition of words or phrases).

The actual graces produced by the Exsultet are acts of faith in the Resurrection of Christ, and in its re-enactment in the Easter celebration, proclaimed and described in extraordinarily fervent, glowing colours; acts, moreover, of expectant hope, of reverence and admiration for the Easter mysteries; acts of gratitude for the charity and mercy of God, for so great a Sacrifice, for so great a glory merited for us by the Redeemer (cf. John 17).

The light of the Easter candle "blots out crime, washes away sins, restores innocence," by forgiving venial sins and temporal punishment for sins. It "banishes enmities, produces concord and offers joy to the sorrowful." The prayer for "humbling the haughty" (literally: bring low the power of empires), refers, not merely to the haughtiness of civil authorities, but also and primarily, to the empire of death, the reign of the prince of this world and his hosts.