Christ is Risen – Alleluia!

Easter Sunday is the day of the “Alleluia!”Â  After forty days of Lenten sacrifice and fasting, we finally arrive at the most important day of our liturgical year, and the only word we have to express our inner joy is “Alleluia!!”

In the old Greek version of the Book of Tobias, in the Septuagint Greek translation of the Hebrew psalter, and in the original Greek of the Apocalypse we hear about this most holy word. It is part of the earliest Christian liturgies of which we have record.

It is a word composed of the divinely acclaiming verbal form Allelu and the divine pronoun term Ya (for YHWH or Yahweh).  So, preserving its radical sense and sound, and even the mystical suggestiveness of its construction, it may be literally rendered, “All hail to Him Who is!” – taking “All Hail” as equivalent to “Glory in the Highest,” and taking “He Who is" in the sense in which God said to Moses: “Thus shalt thou say to the children of Israel; WHO IS hath sent me to you.”Â  The ancient Jewish and Christian tradition all point to the conclusion that the “Alleluia” belonged to the Hebrew liturgy from the beginning as a divinely authorized doxology.  As to when it was first formed, much evidence points to it being one of man’s most ancient formulas of monotheistic faith–the true believer’s primitive Credo, primitive doxology, primitive acclamation.  That in part would explain remarkable fondness for its liturgical use. As a rule the Church uses it wherever joy is to be emphatically expressed, especially as to triumph or thanksgiving.

The “Alleluia” is a great characteristic of Easter, as it has an important place in all of the liturgies, constantly appearing at the beginning and end, and even in the middle, of psalms, as an instinctive exclamation of ecstatic joy.

The very sound of the words should be held to signify a kind of acclamation and a form of ovation which mere grammarians cannot satisfactorily explain; this is the reason why the translators of the Old Testament have left it untranslated, and the Church has taken it into the formulas of her Liturgy or of the people who use it at any time or place where joy need be expressed for God’s greatness and love!  Alleluia!  Praise God!