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The Easter Season’s sound
The Easter Season’s rituals
The Easter Season’s challenge
An Easter Season checklist for those who prepare music

The fifty days from Easter Sunday to Pentecost are celebrated in joyful exultation as one feast day, or better as one “great Sunday.” These above all others are the days for the singing of the Alleluia.

The Sundays of this season rank as the paschal Sundays and, after Easter Sunday itself, are called the Second, Third, Fourth, Fifth, Sixth, and Seventh Sundays of Easter. The period of fifty sacred days ends on Pentecost Sunday.

The first eight days of the Easter season make up the octave of Easter and are celebrated as solemnities of the Lord.

On the fortieth day after Easter the Ascension is celebrated, except in places where, not being a holyday of obligation, it has been transferred to the Seventh Sunday of Easter.

The weekdays after the Ascension until the Saturday before Pentecost inclusive are a preparation for the coming of the Holy Spirit.

General Norms of the Liturgical Year and the Calendar, nn 22-26

The Easter Season’s sound


After fasting for the entire season of Lent, the singing of Alleluia makes its return as we welcome the Gospel at the Easter Vigil. The joy of Alleluia characterises the Easter season, giving us cause to consider how the Acclamation Before the Gospel is sung, as well as the selection of hymns that incorporate Alleluia (such as Jesus Christ is risen today and Jesus Christ, you are my life).

The dismissal of the assembly at the end of Masses during both the days of the Easter Octave (from the Easter Vigil through to the Second Sunday of Easter) and Pentecost Sunday includes a double Alleluia. Music groups should be prepared with the response in case the celebrant (or deacon when one is present) chooses to sing this dismissal.

Glory to God in the highest

Similar to the Alleluia, the Gloria has been absent for the majority of the Lenten season. As it returns to our Sunday celebrations, a solemn yet joyful singing of the Gloria will draw attention to its return. Take care, however, to ensure that this does not overshadow the return of the Alleluia, particularly on Easter Sunday.

Increased singing

In Lent, reductions to the amount of singing during Mass (eg omitting non-essential hymns) can help reflect and shape the nature of the season. With Easter, the quantity of music should reflect the exuberance of celebrating the resurrection. Consider singing at times of the Mass that may not feature music at other times of the year, such as the Lord’s Prayer, a Song of Praise After Communion, and/or a Recessional Hymn.

Instrumental music

With Lent now concluded, the instruction that “the playing of the organ and musical instruments is allowed only in order to support the singing” (General Instruction of the Roman Missal, n 313) no longer applies. Instrumental preludes and postludes can return, as can instrumental music at the offertory (where singing by the assembly is but one musical option).

Choice of music for parts of the Mass

Reflecting all of what has already been discussed in your music selections will make the Easter Masses sound different to what the assembly has experienced during Lent. In addition, music groups should choose a different “Mass setting” (or music for the assembly’s sung acclamations and prayers) to what was sung during Lent, making it clear that Lent is over and the “great Sunday” of Easter is here. The one set of music for these acclamations should be sung consistently throughout the Easter season (which includes Pentecost Sunday).

The Easter Season’s rituals

Sprinkling holy water

Because our baptism is a sharing in the death and resurrection of Christ that we particularly celebrate during Easter, we and many other parishes take up the option of the Rite of Blessing and Sprinkling Water instead of the Penitential Act during the season. Our music suggestions for each Sunday of Easter recommend songs that can accompany the sprinkling. For the sprinkling to be done in silence would lessen the assembly’s experience of this rich symbolic action.

Responsorial Psalm

As always, the ideal for the Responsorial Psalm is that the text provided for the day in the Lectionary for Mass is sung. Our music suggestions provide the psalm of the day and name settings that are within our parish music collection. For music groups that find it challenging to learn a different psalm for each Sunday but want to ensure the integrity of singing the psalm, the Lectionary provides Common (or seasonal) Psalm texts for the season. Again, one of these is suggested each week in our music suggestions where appropriate.

View the nominated Common (or seasonal) Psalms for the Easter Season


In the past, many feast days had Sequences – hymns which extended upon the singing of the Alleluia before the Gospel. Nowadays, only two feast days (both in the Easter Season) have mandatory Sequences: Easter Sunday and Pentecost Sunday. We have easy-to-sing versions of each sequence available to parish music ministers, and there are many different settings available from Catholic music publishers in addition to the traditional chant settings. The Sequence on these days follows the Second Reading, and is immediately followed by the Acclamation Before the Gospel.

Please note that if the Pentecost Vigil Mass is celebrated on Saturday evening, then the Sequence is not sung. In our parish, however, the Mass of the Day (with its mandatory Sequence) is typically used on Saturday evening.

Professing our faith

On Easter Sunday, the usual creed is replaced with the Renewal of Baptismal Promises. Throughout the rest of the season, the Apostles’ Creed is recommended due to its strong connection to baptism and the Apostles’ whose work we hear of in the Easter Scriptures. This will usually not impact the work of music ministers, however, as these texts are very rarely sung.

Celebrating the Ascension

Traditionally, the Ascension of the Lord is celebrated forty days after Easter Sunday (hence why it is often called “Ascension Thursday”). For pastoral reasons, however, the Dioceses of Australia (and many other parts of the world) have moved the celebration of Ascension to the following Sunday. As such, it takes the place of the Seventh Sunday of Easter.

The Easter Season’s challenge


Like the Christmas season, many people both in our parishes and beyond move on from Easter once the first Sunday is finished and the leftover Easter chocolate in stores is marked down to make way for Mothers’ Day stock. Thoughtful choices by music ministers, and consistency with sung acclamations and the like all the way through to Pentecost will help reinforce our belief that the resurrection is so pivotal to our faith that it demands not just one, but fifty days of joyful exultation.

In the same way, with the great amount of energy that is often put into preparing music for the Easter Triduum, there can be a tendency in music groups to want to take a rest! Again, the fifty-day long celebration of Easter calls for the energy of the Triduum to overflow into the seven weeks that follow.

An Easter Season checklist for those who prepare music

  • Have we chosen music for the assembly’s prayers and acclamations that is different to Lent (and will be different to Ordinary Time) and reflects the joy of Easter?
  • Are we prepared for singing the Gloria and Alleluia?
  • What music will accompany the Sprinkling of Blessed Water?
  • Are we prepared for singing the Responsorial Psalm?
    • Will we use the psalm of the day or a Common text?
  • If we are playing on Easter or Pentecost Sunday, are we prepared for singing the Sequence?
  • Will the Masses we lead contain more singing and instrumental music than we used during Lent?
  • Are there hymns in our Easter repertoire that use the word Alleluia where appropriate, or reflect the Scriptures associated with the season?
  • How will we ensure that the joy of Easter is reflected in our music and leadership throughout the season?