Sunday, April 9, 2023

Links for the Easter Season


Anthony van Dyck, The Resurrection
Flemish, c. 1631-1632
Hartford (CT), Wadsworth Athenaeum






The days of Lent and the days of sadness that are the Triduum are past and Easter 2023 has arrived!

Alleluia! 

Alleluia!

Alleluia!


I wish you a happy and profoundly inspiring Easter Season.













 To guide some of your explorations of the themes of this joyful season I recommend to you the links below.  They lead to some of the commentary that I have written over the  years regarding the iconography of the Easter Season, which extends from this happy day till Pentecost and Trinity Sunday.

Please feel free to explore the art created to imagine the Resurrection and the days immediately following, all the way through to the feast of the Holy Trinity.  I hope that considering these events and the pictures that artists have created to illustrate them over the centuries will help you to feel more connected to the long tradition of Christian art offered to the glory of God and to the living Church of our own time.

Links have constantly been improved over the years.  New images, better quality images and new material are constantly being incorporated.  If the original publication date suggests the material is now old, it isn't.  I am constantly revising and housekeeping.

The Resurrection, the Appearances, the Incredulity of Thomas, Emmaus


Title
Date Published
Link

The Women at the Tomb

April 27, 2011

Noli Me Tangere

April 29, 2011

Jesus, the Gardener
April 18, 2017

The Incredulity of St. Thomas (Doubting Thomas)
May 1, 2011

Emmaus -- The Journey

May 7, 2011

Emmaus -- The Recognition

May 7, 2011

Climbing from the Tomb

May 13, 2011

Hovering over the Tomb

May 13, 2011

Bursting from the Tomb

May 14, 2011

An Awkward
Resurrection Image


April 23, 2014
Good Shepherd Sunday
May 15, 2011

The Lake of Galilee -- The Disciples Go Fishing

May 17, 2011

Commission to Peter -- The Good Shepherd Transfers Responsibility

May 21, 2011

The Commission to the Apostles

May 27, 2011

Christ Appears to His Mother


Christ Presents the Redeemed to His Mother

June 1, 2011


May 11, 2017

The Ascension




Striding into the Sky
June 3, 2011

Lifted in a Mondorla or on a Cloud

May 5, 2017

The Disappearing Feet

May 5, 2017

The Direct Approach

May 5, 2017

Pentecost


Veni, Sanctae Spiritus


Tongues of Fire    


May 27, 2012


May 15,
2016




http://imaginemdei.blogspot.com/2011/06/veni-sanctae-spiritus.htm

https://imaginemdei.blogspot.com/2016/05/tongues-of-fire.html
At This Sound, They Gathered In a Crowd


The Holy  Trinity


Worthy Is The Lamb


Father, Son, Spirit



Iconography of the
Holy Trinity –
Imagining The Unimaginable


The Holy Trinity -- Love Made Visible


The Holy Trinity -- The Throne of Grace

  
May 17, 2016



 

April 10, 2016


May 18, 2008



June 2, 2012




June 13, 2019



June 7, 2020





© M. Duffy, 2020



Saturday, April 8, 2023

Exult! – The Easter Proclamation

Deacon Chanting the Exultet
From the Barberini Exultet Roll
Italian (Montecassino, c. 1087)
Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana, Cod.Barb.Lat. 592

Note:  I first wrote this essay on the Exultet rolls in 2013.  At that only the merest handful of poor-quality images were available on the internet.  I updated it once, in 2021, and there were still very few images available.  

However, two years can make a big difference in scholarly availability as well as in human lives!  This past week, as I looked around for any additional available images I was astounded at how much had become available.   Best of all, what has become available is the entire manuscript, whether in the form of a scroll or of a codex, not just a random picture or two from each.

It's not yet perfect, of course.  There are some images for which I haven't yet found a better version, but the new material available and the quality of the images has improved so much as to really require an update this year.  And, bets of all, the Vatican Library has at last enabled word searches of their digital materials (which I'm sure will only grow in number).  This is a resource that has been much anticipated!


The gathering darkness of the evening of Holy Saturday finds the Church assembled in joyful expectation around the makings of a fire. A spark is struck, the fire is lit and from that fire a large candle.

A procession, centered on that large candle, moves through the church, stopping three times to proclaim “The Light of Christ”. From that candle smaller candles are lit and, little by little, the light gathers strength until it illumines the entire church. These actions speak through symbols of the dawning of a new day, the first day of a new creation, the Kingdom of the Risen One, the Light of the World.



The candle is placed in a prominent position near the altar and a deacon (or cantor) steps forward and begins to sing an ancient song, the Exsultet (or Exultet), which, in the newest English translation, begins:

Exult, let them exult, the hosts of heaven,
exult, the Angel ministers of God exult,
let the trumpet of salvation
sound our mighty King’s triumph!


The Hosts of Heaven
From an Exultet Roll
Italian (Montecassino), c. 1075
London, British Library
MS Additional 30337, Image # 2


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.


Terra (Earth) and Mater Ecclesia (Mother Church)
From an Exultet  Roll
Italian (Montecassino), c. 1075
London, British Library
MS Additional 30337, Image # 3


(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.)


A Deacon Preparing to Sing
From an Exultet Roll
Italian, Montecassino), c. 1075
London, British Library
MS Additional 30337, Image # 4



He begins:

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.


The Crucifixion
From an Exultet Roll
Italian (Montecassino), c. 1075
London, British Library
MS Additional 30337, Image # 6




The song recounts the stories of the Fall, the Passover and Exodus, and the new Passover of the Lord.   His song memorably recounts:

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.

The Passage Through the Red Sea and the Harrowing of Hell
From an Exultet Roll
Italian (Montecassino), c. 1075
London, British Library
MS Additional 30337, Image # 7
Rolls are read in the opposite direction from the pictures (and vice versa).


And then:

This is the night,
when Christ broke the prison-bars of death
and rose victorious from the underworld.

Our birth would have been no gain,
had we not been redeemed.

O wonder of your humble care for us!
O love, O charity beyond all telling,
to ransom a slave you gave away your Son!
O truly necessary sin of Adam,
destroyed completely by the Death of Christ!
O happy fault
that earned so great, so glorious a Redeemer!

O truly blessed night,
worthy alone to know the time and hour
when Christ rose from the underworld!

The Sin of Adam and Eve and the Risen Christ Appearing to Mary Magdalene
From an Exultet Roll
Italian (Montecassino), c. 1075
London, British Library
MS Additional 30337, Image # 8



And the recently restored:

The sanctifying power of this night
dispels wickedness, washes faults away,
restores innocence to the fallen, and joy to mourners,
drives out hatred, fosters concord, and brings down the mighty.  

On this, your night of grace, O holy Father,
accept this candle, a solemn offering,
the work of bees and of your servants’ hands,
an evening sacrifice of praise,
this gift from your most holy Church.

But now we know the praises of this pillar,
which glowing fire ignites for God's honor,
a fire into many flames divided,
yet never dimmed by sharing of its light,
for it is fed by melting wax,
drawn out by mother bees
to build a torch so precious.


The Work of the Bees
From an Exultet Roll
Italian (Montecassino), c. 1075
London, British Library
MS Additional 30337, Image # 10


The candle is incensed.

O truly blessed night,
when things of heaven are wed to those of earth,
and divine to the human.

Therefore, O Lord,
we pray you that this candle,
hallowed to the honor of your name,
may persevere undimmed,
to overcome the darkness of this night.

Receive it as a pleasing fragrance,
and let it mingle with the lights of heaven.



Incensing the Candle
From an Exultet Roll
Italian (Montecassino), c. 1075
London, British Library
MS Additional 30337, Image # 9



The Deacon Chanting
From an Exultet Roll
Italian (Montecassino), c. 1075
London, British Library
MS Additional 30337, Image # 11 (Upper)


And finally:

May this flame be found still burning
by the Morning Star:
the one Morning Star who never sets,
Christ your Son,
who, coming back from death's domain,
has shed his peaceful light on humanity,
and lives and reigns for ever and ever.

R. Amen.1


Christ in Majesty
From an Exultet Roll
Italian (Montecassino), c. 1075
London, British Library
MS Additional 30337, Image # 11 (Lower)





This candle, the Paschal Candle, is at once both a large, decorated candle made of wax, and a symbol of the Risen Jesus, present among us in a special way.

This chant and the accompanying actions are, like the Easter Vigil in total, a kind of “insect in amber”. Performed only once each year they have come down the centuries without much change, shortened here and there, time shifted, restored, translated, but never entirely altered. They connect us with an earlier world, more aware of the powerful but silent speech of symbols.



Opening of an Exultet Roll
Location Unknown
Notice that the text and the picture move in opposite directions



The Exultet Rolls

Indicative of how little things have actually changed are a series of rolled manuscripts, known collectively as the Exultet Rolls. Specific to medieval southern Italy, from about the 10th to the 12th centuries, they were decorated scrolls from which the deacon, standing in the ambo (pulpit) of the church, sang the chant.2


Exultet Text with Musical Neumes
From a Gospel Book
English (Southeast), First Half of 11th Century
London, British Library
MS Royal 1 D III, fol. 7v
This is an example of what the Exultet looked like outside of Southern Italy during the 11th Century. This codex manuscript is English and this is how the Exultet still appears in our modern liturgical books.



One extremely interesting feature of the Exultet rolls is the fact that the illustrations and the text face in opposite directions. This is so that both parties involved in the ceremony could understand the meaning. For, while the deacon read the words and notes, the congregation could see the pictures that illustrated his words as the scroll unfurled.


Another example of the different directions for text and image
From an Exultet Roll
Location Unknown


Additional Exultet Rolls


From Montecassino in 1087, comes the Barberini Exultet Roll, now in the Vatican Library (Cod.Barb.Lat.592)



Reading the images from the bottom they are:
The Hosts of Heaven
Earth (Terra)
Mother Church (Mater Ecclesia)



From the top:
The Fall of Adam and Eve
The Harrowing of Hell



From the bottom:
Noli Me Tangere
The Deacon Chanting in Presence of the Candle and Congregation



And another roll from 1136, from a church in the town of Fondi and about fifty years later, comes a roll now in the Bibliotheque nationale de France in Paris.  (Unfortunately, unlike the Vatican and British Libraries, the Bibliotheque nationale didn't provide Image numbers for the pictures in this roll, some of which differ from the previously posted rolls, so I was obliged to guess at the order that they follow.)

Assembly of the Clergy and People
From an Exultet Roll
Italian (Fondi), 1136
Paris, Bibliotheque nationale de France
MS Nouvelle acquisition latine 710
This is a mixed group of men.  From the left is a lay noble, a deacon, a priest and two monks.  I presume this to be the congregation gathered for the Vigil.)



The Bishop Blesses the Candle
From an Exultet Roll
Italian (Fondi), 1136
Paris, Bibliotheque nationale de France
MS Nouvelle acquisition latine 710




The Deacon Incenses the Candle
From an Exultet Roll
Italian (Fondi), 1136
Paris, Bibliotheque nationale de France
MS Nouvelle acquisition latine 710



The Deacon Proclaims the Exultet
From an Exultet Roll
Italian (Fondi), 1136
Paris, Bibliotheque nationale de France
MS Nouvelle acquisition latine 710
The congregation is seen to be divided into two parts.  On the left are the clergy, including monks.  On the right are lay persons.  In this group the first two are men, have beards and wear crowns.  It is impossible to say much about the people behind them.  Some have beards and are clearly male, but some do not and have rather defined large eyes, which may suggest that they are female.



The Arrest of Jesus
From an Exultet Roll
Italian (Fondi), 1136
Paris, Bibliotheque nationale de France
MS Nouvelle acquisition latine 710



The Crucifixion
From an Exultet Roll
Italian (Fondi), 1136
Paris, Bibliotheque nationale de France
MS Nouvelle acquisition latine 710


Pharaoh Pursuing the Hebrews
From an Exultet Roll
Italian (Fondi), 1136
Paris, Bibliotheque nationale de France
MS Nouvelle acquisition latine 710



The Passage of the Red Sea, Pharaoh's Chariots and Charioteers Are Drowned
From an Exultet Roll
Italian (Fondi), 1136
Paris, Bibliotheque nationale de France
MS Nouvelle acquisition latine 710




The Sin of Adam and Eve
From an Exultet Roll
Italian (Fondi), 1136
Paris, Bibliotheque nationale de France
MS Nouvelle acquisition latine 710



The Harrowing of Hell
From an Exultet Roll
Italian (Fondi), 1136
Paris, Bibliotheque nationale de France
MS Nouvelle acquisition latine 710




Christ in Majesty, "the Morningstar that Never Sets", Acclaimed by Kings
From an Exultet Roll
Italian (Fondi), 1136
Paris, Bibliotheque nationale de France
MS Nouvelle acquisition latine 710
These "kings" may be two crowned heads that appeared in the picture of the deacon chanting before the congregation.



The Virgin and Child
From an Exultet Roll
Italian (Fondi), 1136
Paris, Bibliotheque nationale de France
MS Nouvelle acquisition latine 710



Several of the images from different scrolls illustrate the very action they contain, showing the church setting, the candle in place, the clergy and congregation assembled and the deacon singing.



Another Exultet roll showing the deacon singing
Unknown Location




Image of the lighting of the Paschal Candle
from 12th century Exultet roll
Unknown Location




Even after the use of rolls for this important moment in the liturgical year had passed, the manuscript books (codices) from which it was sung were decorated, if not with the scenes about which the deacon sang, at lease with the images of the deacon at work.


The Beginning of the Exultet
From a Gradual Book
Italian, 12th-13th Century
Vatican City, Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana
MS Arch.Cap.S.Pietro.B.78 13, fol. 3r




The Candle Is Carved
From a Gradual Book
Italian, 12th-13th Century
Vatican City, Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana
MS Arch.Cap.S.Pietro.B.78 13, fol. 13v





Lamps Are Lit and the Deacon Sings
From a Gradual Book
Italian, 12th-13th Century
Vatican City, Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana
MS Arch.Cap.S.Pietro.B.78 13, fol. 15v



Tonight, those who attend the Easter Vigil will assemble in exactly the same way to repeat an ancient process and proclaim an eternal joy.


Suggestion:
See the video below for a beautifully proclaimed Exsultet from the Easter Vigil of 2020 at St. Peter's Basilica.  Due to the fact that the basilica, like all churches in Italy and in most of the world, was closed due to the pandemic lockdowns, the Vigil was held, not at the main altar, located above the tomb of Saint Peter, but at the Altar of the Chair, with the mighty Cathedra Petri by Gianlorenzo Bernini in the background.  For information on the Cathedra, see here.



A Happy and Blessed Easter!

© M. Duffy, 2013.  Revised 2021.  Rewritten with new material 2023.
______________________________________
1. Excerpt from the English translation of the Roman Missal © 2010, International Commission on English in the Liturgy Corporation. All rights reserved