The Exsultet

A liturgical text that we hear only once a year is the Exsultet, or Easter Proclamation. A prayer as dense and rich as the Exsultet really needs to be pondered to be prayed well, so I will include the revised translation of the longer form over this week’s and next week’s ”Liturgy Lines”. A process such as Lectio Divina might be a helpful way for readers to reflect on the new words of this ancient text.
Exult, let them exult, the hosts of heaven,

exult, let Angel ministers of God exult,

let the trumpet of salvation

sound aloud our mighty King’s triumph!

Be glad, let earth be glad, as glory floods her,

ablaze with light from her eternal King,

let all corners of the earth be glad,

knowing an end to gloom and darkness.

Rejoice, let Mother Church also rejoice,

arrayed with the lightning of his glory,

let this holy building shake with joy,

filled with the mighty voices of the peoples.

Therefore, dearest friends,

standing in the awesome glory of this holy light,

invoke with me, I ask you,

the mercy of God almighty,

that he, who has been pleased to number me,

though unworthy, among the Levites,

may pour into me his light unshadowed,

that I may sing this candle’s perfect praises.

It is truly right and just,

with ardent love of mind and heart

and with devoted service of our voice,

to acclaim our God invisible, the almighty Father,

and Jesus Christ, our Lord, his Son, his Only Begotten.

Who for our sake paid Adam’s debt to the eternal Father,

and, pouring out his own dear Blood,

wiped clean the record of our ancient sinfulness.

These, then, are the feasts of Passover,

in which is slain the Lamb, the one true Lamb,

whose Blood anoints the doorposts of believers.

This is the night,

when once you led our forebears, Israel’s children,

from slavery in Egypt

and made them pass dry-shod through the Red Sea.

This is the night

that with a pillar of fire

banished the darkness of sin.

This is the night

that even now, throughout the world,

sets Christian believers apart from worldly vices

and from the gloom of sin,

leading them to grace

and joining them to his holy ones.

This is the night,

when Christ broke the prison-bars of death

and rose victorious from the underworld.

Elizabeth Harrington