Eventually, I hope to create a “Musician’s Guide to Holy Saturday,” including both English and Latin, similar to what we made for Good Friday.
The 1955 rubrics say:
After the Priest’s Communion, Holy Communion is distributed, and the purification and ablutions take place as usual. For LAUDS of Easter Sunday, the following antiphon is sung.
[ Post sumptionem Sacramenti, distributio communionis, purificatio et ablutio fiunt more solito; deinde pro LAUDIBUS dominicae Resurrectionis in choro cantatur antiphona. ]
That’s actually the one place—the one place—where that famous Alleluia belongs, and could not fit more perfectly.
For the record, Psalm 116 was used on Holy Saturday prior to Pius XII:
“The use of Psalm 150 is a change from the experimental Easter Vigil (1951-1955) in which Psalm 116 was used for Lauds.” — Msgr. Frederick McManus, The New Holy Week (1956)
It’s not easy to imagine why 116 was found deficient, but Psalm 150 is also quite beautiful. And here’s a 13th-century manuscript that employs a variant “Alleluia” melody:
The tone looks almost identical to the first mode (not the sixth) but is, in fact, Mode 6.
These ancient traditions—maintained for so many centuries with such care—make it difficult to accept the changes made by Pope Pius XII. 1 Indeed, I find it remarkable that so few speak about (or realize) what he did to the Psalter, which Pope John XXIII later reversed. Here’s the antiphon for Holy Saturday before the changes made by Pope Pius XII in 1950:
Do you see how the artist included the holy women mentioned by the antiphon, in the most marvelous way?
Notice the strong tradition that existed for choosing GLORIA II with KYRIE I at Eastertide:
Indeed, the 1961 version of the Ordo Hebdomadae Sanctae chooses KYRIE I for the Easter Vigil and GLORIA II on Easter Sunday. Observe, too, the 13th-century KYRIE’s avoidance of the “Teutonic dialect” at the beginning of Kyrie I. This precise question would lead to bitter fights among the members the 1904 committee, established by Pope St. Pius X to restore the Church’s authentic Gregorian chant.
NOTES FROM THIS ARTICLE:
1 And it is truly horrifying, in light of the ancient tradition of the Church, to hear the term used by Msgr. Frederick R. McManus: “experimental Easter Vigil.”