Alleluia: Wikis


Note: Many of our articles have direct quotes from sources you can cite, within the Wikipedia article! This article doesn't yet, but we're working on it! See more info or our list of citable articles.


From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Alleluia for Christmas Eve, with Jubilus (verse has been omitted).

The Alleluia is chanted before the Gospel is proclaimed in the liturgies of the various Christian liturgical rites. Alleluia will be solemnly chanted at other times also, usually in conjunction with Psalm verses.



The Hebrew word Halleluya as an expression of praise to God was preserved, untranslated, by the early Christians as a superlative expression of thanksgiving, joy, and triumph. Thus it appears in the ancient Greek Liturgy of St. James, which is still used to this day by the Patriarch of Jerusalem and, in its Syriac recension is the prototype of that used by the Maronites. In the Liturgy of St. Mark, apparently the most ancient of all, we find this rubric: "Then follow Let us attend, the Apostle, and the Prologue of the Alleluia."—the "Apostle" is the usual ancient Eastern title for the Epistle reading, and the "Prologue of the Alleluia" would seem to be a prayer or verse before Alleluia was sung by the choir.

Western Use


Roman Rite

At the most literal, Alleluia means "All hail to Him Who is."

Example of Alleluia with verse.

In the Ordinary form of the Mass (as noted in the 2002 General Instruction of the Roman Missal) the proclamation of the Gospel is immediately preceded by the Alleluia or another chant indicated by the rubrics, as required by the liturgical season. An acclamation of this kind constitutes a rite or act in itself, by which the assembly of the faithful welcomes and greets the Lord who is about to speak to them in the Gospel and professes their faith by means of the chant. It is sung by all while standing and is led by the choir or a cantor, being repeated if this is appropriate. The verse, however, is sung either by the choir or by the cantor.

The Alleluia is sung in every season other than Lent. The verses are taken from the Lectionary or the Graduale. During Lent, in place of the Alleluia, the verse before the Gospel is sung, as indicated in the Lectionary. It is also permissible to sing another psalm or tract, as found in the Graduale.

The Alleluia or verse before the Gospel may be omitted if they are not sung. The Sequence, which is optional except on Easter Sunday and on Pentecost Day, is now sung before the Alleluia.

In the Extraordinary form of the Mass, the Alleluia is part of the Proper of the Mass in the Roman Rite. It follows the Gradual and comes before the reading of the Gospel (or the Sequence, if one is used).

It was used in many ways in early liturgies. It was especially favored in Paschal time, the time between Easter and Pentecost, perhaps because of the association of the Hallel (Alleluia psalms) chanted at Passover. During this time, the word is sung at the end of every chant, and an Alleluia replaces the Gradual in the mass, so that there are two of them in the service. It is also added to the "Ite, Missa est" at Mass and "Benedicamus Domino" at Lauds and Vespers during the Octave of Easter. The word, however, is omitted from Septuagesima Sunday until Holy Saturday; at these times the chant Alleluia is either replaced by a Tract, or omitted. At the beginning of each Hour in the traditional Divine Office, the "Alleluia" after the Gloria Patri is replaced with "Laus tibi, Domine, rex aeternae gloriae" ("Praise to thee, O Lord, king of eternal glory"), which also replaces the "Alleluia" before the gospel in the revised rite of Mass.

The Alleluia is one of the responsorial chants in the Mass. It opens with the cantor singing "Alleluia," after which the choir repeats it, and adds a long melisma on the final vowel (called a "jubilus"). (The repeat is notated in the Liber Usualis with the Roman numeral "ij," and then continues with the jubilus.) The cantor then sings the main part of the verse, and the choir joins in on the final line. At the end, the opening Alleluia is repeated, but instead of the choir repeating the word, they repeat only the jubilus. When a Sequence follows the Alleluia, this final repeat is omitted, as it was in other cases in the Middle Ages.

The musical style of the Alleluia is generally ornate, but often within a narrow range. The Alleluia for Christmas Eve, for instance, has an ambitus of only a perfect fifth (but this example is rather extreme). Alleluias were frequently troped, both with added music and text. It is believed that some early Sequences derived from syllabic text being added to the jubilus, and may be named after the opening words of the Alleluia verse. Alleluias were also among the more frequently used chants to create early organa, such as in the Winchester Troper.

Eastern Uses

Byzantine Rite

In the Eastern Orthodox and Greek-Catholic Churches, after reading the Apostle (Epistle) at the Divine Liturgy, the Reader announces which of the Eight Tones the Alleluia is to be chanted in. The response of the choir is always the same: "Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia." What differs is the tone in which it is sung, and the stichera (psalm verses) which are intoned by the Reader.

The Alleluia is paired with the Prokeimenon which preceded the Apostle. There may be either one or two Alleluias, depending upon the number of Prokeimena (there may be up to three readings from the Apostle, but never be more than two Prokeimena and Alleluia).

The Alleluia is intoned in one of the two following manners (depending upon the number of Prokeimena):

One Alleluia

Deacon: "Let us attend."
Reader: "Alleluia in the ____ Tone."
Choir: "Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia."
The Reader then chants the first sticheron of the Alleluia.
Choir: "Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia."
The Reader then chants the second sticheron of the Alleluia.
Choir: "Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia."

Two Alleluias

Deacon: "Let us attend."
Reader: "Alleluia in the ____ Tone:" Then he immediately chants the first sticheron of the first Alleluia.
Choir: "Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia."
The Reader then chants the second sticheron of the first Alleluia.
Choir: "Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia."
Reader: "In the ____ Tone:" And he chants the first sticheron of the second Alleluia.
Choir: "Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia."

Lenten Alleluia

Among the Orthodox, the chanting of Alleluia does not cease during Lent, as it does in the West. This is in accordance with the Orthodox approach to fasting, which is one of sober joy. During the weekdays of Great Lent and certain days during the lesser Lenten seasons (Nativity Fast, Apostles' Fast, and Dormition Fast), the celebration of the Divine Liturgy on weekdays is not permitted. Instead, Alleluia is chanted at Matins. Since this chanting of Alleluia at Matins is characteristic of Lenten services, Lenten days are referred to as "Days with Alleluia."

The Alleluia at Matins is not related to scripture readings or Prokeimena; instead, it replaces "God is the Lord..." It is sung in the Tone of the Week and is followed by the Hymns to the Trinity (Triadica) in the same tone (see Octoechos for an explanation of the eight-week cycle of tones).

"God is the Lord..." would normally be intoned by the deacon, but since the deacon does not serve on days with Alleluia, it is intoned by the priest. He stands in front of the icon of Christ on the Iconostasis, and says:

Priest: "Alleluia in the ____ Tone: Out of the night my spirit waketh at dawn unto Thee, O God, for Thy commandments are a light upon the earth."
Choir: "Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia."
Priest: "Learn righteousness, ye that dwell upon the earth."
Choir: "Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia."
Priest: "Zeal shall lay hold upon an uninstructed people."
Choir: "Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia."
Priest: "Add more evils upon them, O Lord, lay more evils upon them that are glorious upon the earth."
Choir: "Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia."

Alleluia for the Departed

Alleluia is also chanted to a special melody at funerals, memorial services (Greek: Parastas, Slavonic: Panikhida), and on Saturdays of the Dead. Again, it is chanted in place of "God is the Lord...", but this time is followed by the Troparia of the Departed.

The Alleluia is intoned by the deacon (or the priest, if no deacon is available):

Deacon: "Alleluia, in the 8th tone: Blessed are they whom Thou hast chosen and taken unto Thyself, O Lord."
Choir: "Alleluia, Alleluia, Alleluia."
Deacon: "Their memory is from generation to generation."
Choir: "Alleluia, Alleluia, Alleluia."
Deacon: "Their souls will dwell amid good things."
Choir: "Alleluia, Alleluia, Alleluia."

On Saturdays of the Dead, which are celebrated several times throughout the year, the prokeimenon at Vespers is also replaced with Alleluia, which is chanted in the following manner:

Deacon: "Alleluia, in the 8th tone.
Choir: "Alleluia, Alleluia, Alleluia."
Deacon: "Blessed are they whom Thou hast chosen and taken unto Thyself, O Lord."
Choir: "Alleluia, Alleluia, Alleluia."
Deacon: "Their memory is from generation to generation."
Choir: "Alleluia, Alleluia, Alleluia."

Other uses

Gospel readings are appointed for other services as well, particularly those in the Trebnik. A number of these are preceded by an Alleluia, in the same manner as that chated at the Divine Liturgy, though sometimese there are no stichera (psalm verses).

During the Sacred Mystery (Sacrament) of Baptism, in addition to the Alleluia before the Gospel, the choir also chants an Alleluia while the priest pours the Oil of Catechumens into the baptismal font.


  • Hoppin, Richard. Medieval Music. New York: Norton, 1978.

See also

External links

Bible wiki

Up to date as of January 23, 2010

From BibleWiki

the Greek form (Rev. 19:1, 3, 4, 6) of the Hebrew Hallelujah = Praise ye Jehovah, which begins or ends several of the psalms (106, 111, 112, 113, etc.).

This entry includes text from Easton's Bible Dictionary, 1897.

what mentions this? (please help by turning references to this page into wiki links)

The liturgical mystic expression is found

  • in the Book of Tobias, xiii, 22; then
  • in the Psalter; for the first time at the head of Psalm civ according to the Vulgate and Septuagint arrangement, but at the end of the previous psalm according to the Hebrew text as we have it; after that at the beginning of psalms of praise, as a kind of inviting acclamation, or at the end, as a form of glory-giving ovation, or at the beginning and end, as for the last psalm of all; then
  • in the New Testament, only in the relation of St. John's vision of Divine service in Heaven as the worship-word of Creation (Apoc., xix).

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 it is transcribed Allelouia. In accordance with that most ancient transcription, our Latin Vulgate gives it as Alleluia in the Old Testament and in the New. Thus it was given in the earliest Christian liturgies of which we have record. Yet, in place of it, for liturgical use, by way of translation, the English Reformers put the form of words we now find in the Protestant Psalter and Book of Common Prayer. The revisors of the authorized Anglican version of the Bible have used the form Hallelujah in the Apocalypse xix, 3. To justify this form authors and editors of some recent English Protestant biblical publications have adopted a new Greek form of transcription, Hallelouia, instead of Allelouia. [See "New Testament in the Original Greek"; text revised by Westcott and Hort (Cambridge, 1881), and second edit. of "The Old Testament in Greek according to the Septuagint", by Sweete (1895). For change of form, compare Smith's Dict. of the Bible (new edit., 1893) and Hastings' Dict. of the Bible (1898-1904).] Alleluia, not Hallelujah, is the traditional Christian and proper English form of transcription. The accent placed as in our liturgical books over u marks its verbal analysis, as that clearly shows in the last line of the Hebrew Psalter: Allelu-ia. It is thus seen to be composed of the divinely acclaiming verbal form Allelu and the divine pronominal term Ia. 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 "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." As such, when was the expression introduced into the Hebrew liturgy? -- Besides reasons proper to the text of the Psalter, and those drawn from a purely philological consideration of the word itself, the data of ancient Jewish and Christian tradition all point to the conclusion that it belonged, as a divinely authorized doxology, to the Hebrew liturgy from the beginning. As to when it was first formed, there seems much reason for holding that we have in it man's most ancient formula 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 she so uses it wherever joy, consequently triumph or thanksgiving, is to be emphatically expressed. As to the time of its use, in the Eastern Church it is heard at all seasons of the year; even in Masses for the dead, as it formerly was in the West. There, at present, in the Latin Roman Rite, our own, according to St. Gregory's regulation referred to in his Office, from Easter to Septuagesima it never leaves the Liturgy, except for some passing occasion of mourning or penance, such as Mass and Office for the Dead, in Ferial Masses during Advent, on the feast of the martyred Holy Innocents (unless it fall on a Sunday), and on all vigils which are fast days, if the Mass of the vigil be said. But it is sung on the vigil of Easter (Holy Saturday) and on that of Pentecost, because on each of those vigils, in early ages, Mass was said at night, and so was regarded as belonging to the joyous solemnity of the following day. During Eastertime it is the characteristic Paschal note of varying parts of Mass and Office, constantly appearing at the beginning and end, and even in the middle, of psalms, as an instinctive exclamation of ecstatic joy. Calmet thus expressed the Catholic view of its traditional import when noting (in Psalm civ) that 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; wherefore the translators of the Old Testament have left it untranslated and, in the same way, the Church has taken it into the formulas of her Liturgy or of the people who use it at any time or place what it may.


From the Temple, through the Coenaculum's alleluiatic hymn of thanksgiving, the words passed into the service of the Christian Church, whose liturgical language, like that of the Septuagint and the New Testament, was at first, naturally, Greek. Of course its essential character remained unchanged, but, as an emotional utterance of devotion, it was profoundly affected by Christian memories, and by the spirit of the Christian Faith. To its original general significance was thus added a new personal sense as Paschal refrain and, with that, among holy words, a mystic meaning all its own. Even as a form of divine acclaim its force was intensified, the feeling it evoked deepened, the ideas it suggested widened and elevated, and, above all, purified under the spiritualizing influence of Christian thought. As that thought's supreme expression of thanksgiving, joy, and triumph, "Alleluia" assumed a wider and deeper, a higher and holier, meaning than it earlier had in the liturgy of the Hebrew people. With such supreme Christian significance it appears in the earliest portion of the earliest liturgies of which we have written remains, in the so-called "primitive liturgies of the East." These may be reduced to four, called respectively, and in the supposed order of their antiquity, those of St. Mark, St. James, St. Clement, and St. Chrysostom. The last, now more commonly known as that of Constantinople, is the normal liturgy of the Eastern Churches, used not only by the "Orthodox", or Schismatic, but by the Catholic, or "United", Greeks throughout the world. The Greek Liturgy of St. James is still used by the schismatic Greeks at Jerusalem on his feast day, and in its Syriac recension is the prototype of that of the Maronites who are Catholics. That of St. Mark, apparently the most ancient of all, is very often in verbal agreement with the Coptic Liturgy of St. Cyril and other similar forms, notably that of the Catholic Copts. The liturgy called that of St. Clement, though undoubtedly very ancient, seems to have never been actually used in any Church, so may be here passed over. Now, first glancing through the liturgy of St. Mark, as presumably the most ancient, we find this rubric, just before the Gospel: "Attend: the Apostle; the Prologue of Alleluia."--"The Apostle" is the usual ancient Eastern title for the Epistle, which the "Prologue of Alleluia" would seem to be some prayer recited by the priest before Alleluia was sung by the choir or people. Then, for Alleluiatic anthem, comes the somewhat later insertion known as the Cherubic hymn, before the Consecration: "Let us who mystically represent the Cherubim, and sing the holy hymn to the quickening Trinity, now lay by all worldly cares, that we may receive the King of Glory invisibly attended by the Angelic orders: Alleluia, Alleluia, Alleluia!" In the next most ancient of these primitive Greek liturgies of the East, that known as the Liturgy of St. James, we find the following rubric:
PRIEST: Peace be with all. PEOPLE: And with thy Spirit. SINGERS: Alleluia!
Further on, immediately after the Cherubic anthem above noticed, there is the following beautiful invocation before the Consecration,
PRIEST: Let all mortal flesh keep silence and stand with fear and trembling and ponder naught of itself earthly; for the King of Kings and Lord of Lords, Christ our God, cometh forward to be sacrificed and to be given for food to the faithful; and He is preceded by the Choirs of His Angels with every Dominion and Power, by the many-eyed Cherubim and the six-winged Seraphim who covering their faces sing aloud the Hymn: Alleluia, Alleluia, Alleluia!
Finally, in the ancient Greek Liturgy of Constantinople, we find the word used, as acclaiming expression to a kind of chorus, apparently intended to be repeated by the congregation or assistant ministers, thus:
V. The Lord hear thee in the day of trouble; the Name of the God of Jacob defend thee;

R. Save us, O Good Paraclete, who chant to thee Alleluia. V. Send thee help from the Sanctuary; and strengthen thee out of Sion. R. Save us, O Good Paraclete, who chant to thee Alleluia. V. Remember all thy offerings; and accept thy burnt sacrifice.

R. Save us, O Good Paraclete, who chant to thee Alleluia.
Further on, when the choir has finished the Trisagion, we have the rubric:
DEACON: Attend! READER: Alleluia!
The reading of the Apostle being concluded, the rubric gives:
PRIEST: Peace be to thee. READER: Alleluia!
Then, when the catechumens have departed, after the "prayers for the faithful" before the Consecration, we have the Cherubic anthem, with its triple Alleluia for "Holy hymn to the quickening Trinity" as above in the Liturgies of St. Mark and St. James. These extracts will suffice to show that the word from the first has been as it still is used in the liturgies of the East and in our own day, a supreme form of Christian acclamation, or lyric cry, before, in the middle, and at the end, of the versicles and responses, and anthems and hymns. The only difference in regard to it between those of the East and West is that in the former it is still, as it seems at first to have been generally, used all through the year, even during Lent, and in Offices for the dead, as the Christian cry of victory over sin and death. Thus St. Jerome tells us it was sung at the obsequies of his sister Fabiola. With a kind of holy pride, in his own strong way he writes: "Sonabant psalmi et aurata temporum reboans in sublime quatiebat Alleluia." (See Hammond's Ancient Liturgies.)
Portions of this entry are taken from The Catholic Encyclopedia, 1907.


Got something to say? Make a comment.
Your name
Your email address