instruere...inlustrare...delectare Disputations

Tuesday, April 13, 2004

Alleluia is our song

St. Augustine, I am told, said, "We are an Easter people, and 'Alleluia' is our song."

I suspect that, like a lot of other things St. Augustine said, St. Augustine didn't say that. Still, you can sort of cobble the sentiment together from things he did say, like this:
On account of these two seasons, one which now is in the temptations and tribulations of this life, the other which is to be hereafter in everlasting rest and exultation; we have established also the celebration of two seasons, that before Easter and that after Easter. That which is before Easter signifies tribulation, in which we now are; that which we are now keeping after Easter, signifies the bliss in which we shall hereafter be. The celebration then which we keep before Easter is what we do now; by that which we keep after Easter we signify what as yet we don't have. Therefore we employ that time in fastings and prayer; this present time we spend in praises, and relax our fast. This is the Alleluia which we sing, which, as you know, means "Praise the Lord." [Commentary on Psalm 148]
He adds some very sensible advice for those who dare sing "Alleluia" this Easter season:
Whenever you sing "Alleluia," give your bread to the hungry, clothe the naked, take in the stranger. Then not only does your voice sound, but your hand sounds in harmony with it, for your deeds agree with your words. [Commentary on Psalm 149]