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27.3.05

Easter Wishes

The Risen Christ, detail from the Isenheim Altarpiece, by Matthias GrünewaldThis is a brief excerpt of the Troparia for the Lumen Christi, which we sing at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, in a plainchant setting by Leo Nestor, every year at the Easter Vigil as the paschal candle is brought into the darkened church. The texts are translations of 2nd-century writings by Melito of Sardis and Clement of Alexandria:

Born as a son, led like a lamb,
Sacrificed like a sheep, buried as a man,
He rises from the dead as God,
Being by nature both God and man.

He is the judge of all things:
When he judges, he is law; when he teaches, word;
When he saves, grace; when he begets, father;
When he is begotten, son; when he suffers, lamb;
When he is buried, man; when he rises, God.

Come, then, all you races of humankind, whom sin has saturated,
And receive the forgiveness of sin.
For it is I who am your forgiveness; I, the saving pasch;
I, the lamb, sacrificed for you; I, your purification; I, your life;
I, your resurrection; I, your light; I, your salvation; I, your king!
It is I who bring you to the heights of heaven:
It is I who shall raise you up here on earth.
I will show you the eternal father, I will raise you with my right hand.
These remarkable texts lead into the proclamation of the Easter Exultet, the ancient chant that was intoned in the Middle Ages from ornately decorated scrolls. When I hear this music, only then do I know it's Easter.

Best wishes for joy in the Easter season!

Image at right:
The Risen Christ, detail from the Isenheim Altarpiece (c.1515), by Matthias Grünewald

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