The first Alleluia sung at the Easter Vigil is known as the Great Alleluia. It is sung before the reading of the Gospel that tells of Jesus' resurrection. It is one of the oldest pieces of Christian sacred music.
“This [Great Alleluia] rises with a slow movement; it rises above the grave of Adam, and it has the blood of Christ on its wings. It is the marriage song of the Paschal night, which will grow slowly brighter as it meets the day of resurrection. But these are only words. The first alleluia of the Paschal night is a mystery, unutterable like all mysteries. As this alleluia is, so is the whole life of Christians: A gentle, quiet song of joy which meets the rise of day in the midst of the suffering of night time.”
Aemiliana Löhr, The Mass Throughout the Year 2: Holy Week to the Last Sunday after Pentecost, tr. I. T. Hale (Westminster, Md. 1959), p. 64
Quoted in The Liturgical Year: Its History and Its Meaning After the Reform of the Liturgy by Adolf Adam
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