PODCAzT 17: Exsultet

For forty days we have done penance. We participated at the anniversary of Holy Mass and the Priesthood on Holy Thursday with the mandatum and the procession to the altar of repose, Christ in agony in Gethsemane. On Good Friday, the day with no Mass, after our humble prostration before the Crucified Lord we stood for the singing of the Passion. Now we are in a dark church. The fire was kindled and the “Light of Christ” was thrice announced. The faithful have little candles sparked to life from the single flame of the Paschal candle, the “Christ candle”, now lighted as the symbol of His resurrection.

The candle is incensed and then the deacon sings:

Exult now O ye angelic throngs of the heavens:
Exult O ye divine mysteries:
and let the saving trumpet resound for the victory of so great a King.
Let the earthly realm also be joyful, made radiant by such flashings like lightning:
and, made bright with the splendor of the eternal King,
let it perceive that it has dismissed the entire world’s gloom.
Let Mother Church rejoice as well,
adorned with the blazes of so great a light:
and let this royal hall ring with the great voices of the peoples.
Wherefore, most beloved brothers and sisters,
you here present to such a wondrous brightness of this holy light,
I beseech you, together with me
invoke the mercy of Almighty God.
Let Him who deigned to gather me in among the number of the Levites,
by no merits of mine,
while pouring forth the glory of His own light
enable me to bring to fullness the praise of this waxen candle.

Deacon: The Lord be with you!
Response: And with your spirit!
D: Raise your hearts on high!
R: We now have them present to the Lord!
D: Let us then give thanks to the Lord our God!
R: This is worthy and just!

Truly it is worthy and just
to resound forth with the whole of the heart,
disposition of mind,
and by the ministry of the voice,
the invisible God the Father Almighty,
and His Only-begotten Son
our Lord Jesus Christ,
Who, on our behalf, resolved Adam’s debt to the Eternal Father
and cleansed with dutiful bloodshed the bond of the ancient crime.
For these are the Paschal holy days,
in which that true Lamb is slain,
by Whose Blood the doorposts of the faithful are consecrated.
This is the night
in which first of all You caused our forefathers,
the children of Israel brought forth from Egypt,
to pass dry shod through the Red Sea.
This is the night
which purged the darkness of sins by the illumination of the pillar.
This is the night
which today restores to grace and unites in sanctity throughout the world Christ’s believers,
separated from the vices of the world and the darkness of sins.
This is the night
in which, once the chains of death were undone,
Christ the victor arose from the nether realm.
For it would have profited us nothing to have been born,
unless it had been fitting for us to be redeemed.
O wondrous condescension of Your merciful concern for us!
O inestimable affection of sacrificial love:
You delivered up Your Son that You might redeem the slave!
O truly needful sin of Adam,
that was blotted out by the death of Christ!
O happy fault,
that merited to have such and so great a Redeemer!
O truly blessed night,
that alone deserved to know the time and hour
in which Christ rose again from the nether world!
This is the night about which it was written:
And night shall be made as bright as day:
and night is as my brightness for me.
Therefore the sanctification of this night puts to flight all wickedness, cleanses sins,
and restores innocence to the fallen and gladness to the sorrowful.
It drives away hatreds, procures concord, and makes dominions bend.
Therefore, in this night of grace,
accept, O Holy Father, the evening sacrifice of this praise,
which Holy Church renders to You
in the solemn offering of this waxen candle
by the hands of Your ministers from the work of bees.
We are knowing now the proclamations of this column,
which glowing fire kindles in honor of God.
Which fire, although it is divided into parts,
is knowing no loss from its light being lent out.
For it is nourished by the melting streams of wax,
which the mother bee produced for the substance of this precious torch.
O truly blessed night,
in which heavenly things are joined to those of earth,
the divine to the human!
Therefore, we beseech You, O Lord,
that this waxen candle, consecrated in honor of Your name,
may continue unfailing to dispel the darkness of this night.
And once it is accepted as a placating sacrifice,
may it be mingled with the heavenly lights.
Let the morning star meet with its flame:
that very star, I say, which knows no setting:
Christ, who, having returned from the nether realm,
broke serene like the dawn upon the human race,
and now lives and reigns forever and ever.


About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. Dan O says:

    Fr. Z,
    Thank you so much for that beautiful rendition of the Exultet. It reminds me of Easter Vigils of my youth. This is one of the clearest and best recordings of the Exultet I have ever heard and I have looked online for a good recording for a long time.

    Happy Easter. God bless,


  2. Joshua says:

    It was a very beautiful rendition, but I noticed it was slightly different that what I have heard before. Namely, in the old rite Mass I went to the Exultet had prayers for the pope, bishop et alii.

    I have also heard that it used to include a prayer for the Holy Roman Emperor. Would there be any resources about the history of the Exultet and the changes?

  3. Ed says:

    Out of curiosity, when did the lights at the Pope’s Easter Vigil get turned on?

  4. Dr. Lee Fratantuono says:

    I wondered over to the local Catholic parish that serves our university, and…for the first time in…over 35 years?…the Exsultet was sung in Latin, and yes, by a deacon. Very edifying…I was afraid Father Zuhlsdorf’s podcast would be the closest thing to the real thing I’d find handy on this night of nights for liturgy.

    I imagine many parishes lack access to the newer liturgical books in Latin (sometimes they’re harder to find than the preconciliar books)…the deacon used the older version, with what I call the “contemporary close”.

  5. Anne D says:

    Fr. Z,

    Thank you. A beautiful choice for your Easter Vigil podcast. Enjoyed the latin Exsultet. We followed along in English. A happy & holy Easter.

    Leonard & Anne Dezelski

  6. swmichigancatholic says:

    Very beautiful.

  7. Denis Crnkovic says:

    Thank you, father, for a very fine explication of the “Exsultet”. Thank you also for the recording. My family has always quite looked forward to your singing this transcendent music at St Agnes. Alas for us this year, but we rejoice for you in Rome. Did you manage to attend St. Peter’s? The “Exsultet” was sung fairly well, but not as well as some I’ve heard.. .

    For many years I have reviewed this most profound of Catholic exclamations every Holy Saturday. In most of the past four decades I have not heard the Latin “Exsultet” sung at all, so I have been required to sing it to myself, alone, at home [This can lead to some strange practices – in some years I have read and sung it from the 1893 Glagolitic Missal, where the Church Slavic translation is – quite nicely – fitted to the Roman melody. Maybe that is a bit eccentric, but at least such practice makes one look at the prayer quite closely by going through it note by note, word by word.] This year, since we didn’t make it the 100 miles up I-35 to St. Agnes, I had to stand through a very unsatisfying rendition of something called the “Easter Proclamation,” an unintentional cacophony of piano, soprano and priest. I came home and opened my Tridentine Missal to comfort my stinging ears with the ancient and more genuine prayer. To be able then to add the podcast that you provided helped salvage the sinking mood of the evening.

    Gratias tibi ago.

  8. Happy Easter, Father! He is risen!

    The vigil at St. Agnes was beautiful, as usual, and Deacon Allen did a fine job with the Exsultet (he says it will be better next year, when he has it memorized and doesn’t have to try to read). :-)

    And we had two adult baptisms and nine confirmations, which was particularly wonderful. Deo gratias!

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