Gregorian Chant

Surrexit Dominus, antiphon

    Description by Timothy Dickey

    The Catholic Church maintains two lengthy periods of penitence in preparation for the highest holy days of the year: Advent for 40 days before Christmas and Lent for 40 days before Easter. Global changes in the liturgy solemnify both periods: for instance, the phrase "Alleluia" (Praise to the Lord) is conspicuously absent through the penitential season, and then triumphantly returns after 40 days' hiatus on Easter eve and permeates the joyous liturgy throughout Easter week. Many of its appearances circle around a series of plainchants with some form of the text Surrexit Dominus (The Lord is risen). At Matins, the first Office of the morning of Easter, the chant Surrexit Dominus vere, Alleluia (The Lord is risen indeed) officially invites the worship day to begin. The Mass of Easter Monday contains a more elaborate chant (though in the same jubilant Hypolydian mode) during the communion, Surrexit Dominus et apparuit Petro, Alleluia (The Lord is risen, and appeared to Peter). The best-known and most complex Surrexit chant arrives during the Mass of Easter Tuesday; it is the Alleluia verse Surrexit Dominus de sepulchro (The Lord is risen from the tomb). This Dorian-mode chant is highly melismatic, with sometimes over 30 notes on a single syllable of text. Yet short, recurring motifs unify its melodic structure such as the upwards leap of a fifth and a lower-neighbor turn. The final melisma, as well, directly echoes the melody of the opening Alleluia. One reason for the popularity of the chant is its frequent appearance in the liturgy of the highest feast of the calendar; another is its early appropriation into liturgical drama. Surrexit Dominus is part of the Easter play Quem quaeritis as found in the Winchester Troper and also concludes the fourteenth century Peregrinus drama, which details the meeting between Christ and the Disciples after the resurrection.

    Appears On

    Year Title Label Catalog #
    2010 Denon Records
    2010 AAO Music
    2009 Savoy
    2009 Denon Records
    2009 Cantate 58034
    2008 Laserlight / Zebralution
    2006 Milan
    2003 Sony Classical 87279
    2001 Griffin 4026
    1995 Madacy 2361
    1995 Hungaroton 12050
    1994 Sony Classical 66705
    1994 Madacy 9114
    Bescol 5/4
    Accord 221602
    Bescol 503