Finally! On Easter Day, finally, we welcome the word Alleluia back into our worship – and we do so in droves! In Easter season, Alleluia is the first and last word of every Eucharist. We begin with, “Alleluia. Christ is risen,” and we end with, “Thanks be to God. Alleluia!” And in between, we sing hymns full of Alleluias. Throughout these 50 days, the word Alleluia punctuates our worship.
Alleluia is a form of Hallelujah, which comes from the Hebrew Hallel Jah, or Praise God. Praising God is a very appropriate thing for us to do – especially in Easter season, as we raise our joyous shouts of acclamation for the miracle of resurrection, the gift of new life.
We are accustomed to dropping the use of Alleluia in the somber season of Lent (although occasionally we forget – even clergy!!). But did you know that the rubrics of The Book of Common Prayer also call for a limited use of the word Alleluia in seasons other than Easter? If you look at the rubrics on pages 340 or 366, you’ll see that the words Alleluia, alleluia are to be added to dismissals only in the 50 days from Easter through the Day of Pentecost. That’s why our clergy add them to the dismissal only in Easter season and not all year through.
Why would the BCP limit the use of Alleluia in such a way? My guess is that saving it up only for the 50 days of Easter marks Easter as the exceptional, priceless, ultimate season that it is. We make unfettered use of the joyous word throughout these 50 days, and then we restrain ourselves so that we may celebrate more fully when the season circles around again. So let those Alleluias roar this Easter! And then let us lovingly store them up for our celebration next year.