February 18, June 19, October 19
Chapter 15: At What Times “Alleluia” Is to Be Said
From holy Easter until Pentecost without interruption
let “Alleluia” be said
both in the Psalms and in the responsories.
From Pentecost to the beginning of Lent
let it be said every night
with the last six Psalms of the Night Office only.
On every Sunday, however, outside of Lent,
the canticles, the Morning Office, Prime, Terce, Sext and None
shall be said with “Alleluia,”
but Vespers with antiphons.
The responsories are never to be said with “Alleluia”
except from Easter to Pentecost.
Why do we say “Alleluia”? What is its purpose? Do we know what the word means? I looked it up in the Merriam -Webster online dictionary. Alleluia means “praise you”.
The use of the alleluia dates back to the earliest of liturgical formularies, both Jewish and Christian, as an endless, chant of joy. We see it in the Psalms and in Temple liturgy. In the Christian community it was an expression of praise and a foretaste of eternal gladness. “We are an Easter people,” Augustine wrote, “and Alleluia is our cry.”
Benedict of Nursia did not originate the use of the alleluia but one thing he did do was to extend its use to every day of the year except Lent. So we have Benedict to thank for the removal of “alleluia” in Lent. When we omit it, and are caught by our habitual desire to say it in Lent, this causes us to think about our words and why most of the time we say “alleluia” but in Lent we do not.
The admonition tells us something.. To the Benedictine mind, life in all its long nights and weary days is something to be praised, death is the river of joy, there is no end to the positive. Even life in hot fields and drab offices and small houses is somehow one long happy thought when God is its center, and blessings, however rare, however scant, are blessed.