Easter Music

The dramatic readings of Holy Week and Easter provide the basis for some of the most dramatic musical compositions of the Church Year. Among the dramatic readings and proclamations of the Easter Vigil Service, a piece of music commands a powerful place in this important liturgy. The Exsultet, or "Easter proclamation" is named for the first line of the Latin text: exsultet iam angelica turba caelorum ("Now the heavenly crowd of angels shout for joy"). This chant is sung after the blessing of the new fire (new life) and the Paschal candle has been lit. This powerful text recalls Israel's exodus from Egypt, new Christians crossing through water from slavery to freedom, and Christ's resurrection.

After a season of no postludes during Lent, the Easter Vigil service concludes with the famous Toccata from Charles-Marie Widor's Fifth Organ Symphony. Widor was the Professor of Organ and Composition at the Paris Conservatory and served as organist of the monumental Cavaillé-Coll organ at St. Sulpice in Paris for a legendary 64 years. While he wrote a total of nine other organ symphonies, Widor's Toccata has always commanded a great deal of attention at graduations, weddings, and other regal ceremonies. On Easter Day we will hear the Grand Choeur Dialogue for organ and brass by Eugene Gigout (1844-1925). This famous piece appears in a variety of arrangements; one of the earliest is a version for two organs that may have been first performed at the Barcelona City Hall which had an organ on either end of that grandiose space. The version heard here, is simply for organ and brass quartet.