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6 Songs to Listen to This Easter

Looking forward to the observance of Holy Week and Easter, we embrace a number of practices to prepare ourselves for the celebration of the Resurrection – from meditating upon Scripture and devotions, to attending Mass. One special way to prepare your heart for Easter is to listen to sacred music reflecting the beauty and solemnity of Christ’s passion, death, and resurrection.

Today, we invite you to listen to these six songs performed by the Basilica as you prepare your heart for the celebration of Easter – and if you are in the area, we encourage you to attend the Basilica’s Annual Octave Day of Easter Concert on April 16, 2023, at 7:00 pm.

Exsultet on Holy Saturday

Hear the heavenly voices of the Basilica Choir raised in song to rejoice in the Savior’s glory:

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

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.”

Organ Fanfare and Entrance Hymn on Easter Sunday

Feel the thrilling triumph of the Resurrection in this fanfare for Easter Sunday, with full, lush chords from the organs of the Great Upper Church alongside the sounds of the Shrine Brass that give way to the joyous heralds of the Choir.

“Canzon duodecimi toni” – Giovanni Gabrieli

Did you know that the unique architecture of the Basilica di San Marco, with its opposing choir lofts, was a great source of inspiration for Venetian composers? It was typical for spatially separated choirs to sing antiphonally, in alternation with one another. Giovanni Gabrieli, who served as the principal organist and composer at Saint Mark’s Basilica from 1585 until his death, developed this polychoral style to its highest point. “Canzon duodecimi toni,” part of his 1597 Sacred Symphony, placed two brass quintets in the opposing choir lofts. The arrangement heard in this recording from the Basilica features a five-part brass choir and organ.

“Alleluia” – Théodore Dubois

Théodore Dubois served as organist at the Madeleine Church in Paris and as choirmaster at the Basilica of Saint Clotilde. In 1893, his Douze Pièces Nouvelles pour orgue ou piano-pédalier (Twelve New Pieces for Organ or Pedal Piano) was published. You can hear the Basilica perform a brass and organ arrangement of “Alleluia” from the Twelve New Pieces, which takes the Easter hymn, “Ye Sons and Daughters” as its theme.

“Lobet den Herren mit Pauken und Zimbeln” – Sigfrid Karg-Elert

“Lobet den Herren mit Pauken und Zimbeln” (“Praise the Lord with Drums and Cymbals”), composed by Sigfrid Karg-Elert, takes its title from the text of Psalm 150, wherein sacred musicians are called to lead all in heaven and earth in the praise of God. Specifically named instruments include the organ, trumpet, cymbal, harp, lyre, timbrel, and strings.

“Death and Resurrection” – Jean Langlais

“Death and Resurrection” is a movement from Three Gregorian Paraphrases, Opus 5, composed by Jean Langlais. This movement is prefaced with an excerpt from the Epistle of Saint Paul to the Corinthians: “Death, where is thy victory?” A somber, quiet opening gradually builds before expanding into rich chords of jubilant victory. This piece is based upon the gradual chant for the Requiem Mass.

Get the CD: Triumph of the Cross, Music for Easter

Enrich your Easter celebrations and joyfully commemorate Christ’s Resurrection with the new edition of Triumph of the Cross, Music for Easter. This extraordinary collection of music recorded here at the National Shrine will bring you as close as possible to experiencing the great solemnity of Easter at Mary’s Shrine from the comfort of your own home.

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