Year A – Easter Sunday

On Alleluia!

(Acts 10:34, 37-43; Col.3:1-4; Jn.20:1-9)

Happy Easter!  Sadly, because of Covid-19, we can’t come together to celebrate this wonderful day today.  It really is the high point of our Christian calendar.  But why is Easter so important?

It’s because Christ is risen!  And this means that all God’s promises are true.

Before Jesus’ Resurrection, death always followed life.  It didn’t matter how rich or how powerful you were; death was always the end of the road.  But now, because of Jesus’ incredible sacrifice, we know that love is stronger than hate, and we know that death is as empty as Jesus’ tomb. 

Through his death and resurrection, and through our Baptism, Jesus has given each of us a share in his life and identity.  He has opened the gates of heaven, and he’s given us the graces we need to get there.  As Jesus says in John’s Gospel, ‘I came that they may have life, and have it to the full’ (Jn.10:10). 

So, how might we celebrate this special day? 

Well, perhaps you might remember that in 1986, in Australia, Pope St John Paul II said, ‘We are an Easter People and Alleluia is our song!’ So let’s sing Alleluia! 

But before we do that, what does Alleluia actually mean?  Pope Benedict says Alleluia is a word that really can’t be translated. He says it’s a way to express an overflowing joy that transcends all words.  It’s a jubilus,[i] he says, a cry of exaltation, a shout that shows our hearts are trying express what they cannot possibly say in words. [ii]

In Hebrew, the word is Hallel-ujah, which means Praise the Lord.  This expression is basically telling God that we’ve experienced something of him, and that experience was so good that we simply must cry Hallelujah! (Ps.34:8).

Leonard Cohen wrote a song with that name; it’s been hugely popular over the last fifty years.  The tune is captivating, and that word, hallelujah/alleluia, may be just what we need right now to celebrate the joy of Easter.

The original lyrics, however, really can’t be called Christian; they’re quite secular.  So, the wonderful poet Jo Fiore and I have penned some new lines that I hope connect this song more closely with the mystery and joy of Easter.

They came the hour before the dawn
With heavy hearts and so forlorn.
He’s risen, He is risen, Alleluia!

The angel bid them: ‘Do not fear,
The one you seek, He is not here.’
He’s risen, He is risen, Alleluia!

Alleluia, Alleluia, Alleluia, Alleluia

The others rushed to see the tomb.
They found a cold and empty room.
He’s risen, He is risen. Alleluia!

In time they came to understand  
And spread His word throughout the land.
He’s risen, He is risen, Alleluia!

Alleluia, Alleluia, Alleluia, Alleluia!

He gives us hope for he’s always near,
Shows how to love and lose our fear.
He’s risen, He is risen, Alleluia!

He’s the truth we need from day to day,
The light that shines upon the way.
He’s risen, He is risen, Alleluia!

Alleluia, Alleluia, Alleluia, Alleluia!

We come today to find the Lord.
We come to hear His holy word.
He’s risen, He is risen, Alleluia!

We come to praise His holy name,
With humble hearts we all proclaim:
He’s risen, He is risen, Alleluia!

Alleluia, Alleluia, Alleluia, Alleluuuuuuia!

It’s catchy.  To help us sing along, Emma and Sam North have kindly recorded this song for us. 

To hear it, please listen in the player below or download here.

Year A 22. Alleluia He is risen

We can’t go to Mass to celebrate Easter this year, but we can surely sing Alleluia! 

[i] A jubilus is defined as an elaborate melisma on the final syllable of the word ‘Alleluia’ (and a melisma is itself the musical art of stretching a syllable over a run of notes, e.g. in Gregorian Chant). Since medieval times, this has been considered an expression of great joy.

[ii] Pope Benedict XVI, Dogma and Preaching, Ignatius Press, San Francisco, 2011:299.