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Tuesday 20 April |

Living with a Deacon in the Days Before Easter

Deacon Greg Kandra - published on 03/12/16

From the vault:

It can’t be easy living with a deacon, especially now.

Every year, for a few weeks before Easter, the deacon pulls out sheet music and starts practicing that Everest of liturgical song, the Exsultet:  a nine-minute a capella chant sung in near-darkness at the start of the Easter Vigil.

Around our home, the Exsultet is the Muzak of our lives.  It’s everywhere. I warble snatches of it constantly.  My wife, saint that she is, has become politely oblivious.  How she does it, I will never know.

6 AM and the clock radio goes off.  My wife nudges me awake.  “Be glad,” I burble, “let earth be glad, as glory floods her, ablaze with light from her eternal King.”

Later, I find myself in our apartment building’s elevator with a few bleary-eyed neighbors heading to work.  “Dearest friends,” I sing, “standing with me in the awesome glory of this holy light, invoke with me, I ask you, the mercy of God almighty… “

I’m sure it’s no accident that a few get off before we even reach the lobby.

Crowded in the subway, I am surrounded by a large contingent of non-Catholics – many Jews, in fact, marking their own holy feast.  How can I resist?  “These then are the feasts of Passover,” I exuberantly sing to them, “in which is slain the Lamb, the one true Lamb, whose Blood anoints the doorposts of believers.”  They think I’m crazy.  It’s the New York subway. I fit right in.

At work, the copy editor passes me an edited article which reads better than I expected.  “Let this holy building shake with joy!” I exclaim.  He nods, rolls his eyes, and passes the copy on to the graphic artist.  He’s used to this.

Back home, my wife asks me how I liked her dinner.  “Dazzling is the night for me,” I assure her, “and full of gladness.”  She notes that it wasn’t anything special, just something she popped into the microwave – and a little overcooked, at that.  “Oh happy fault,” I beam.  I notice her fingering the dinner knife.  I shut up.

Easter is coming.  My wife (and my neighbors) are counting the days.  Exult, let them exult!

Also worth noting:

Why the Deacon Chants the Exsultet 

For the truly courageous, my rendering of this chant from last Easter is below. 

And for something beautiful and surprising, part of the Exsultet as I heard it in Jordan last year—in Arabic. 

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