WHAT DOES “ALLELUIA” MEAN?
During Easter Season, we pray the double “Alleluia” before the Gospel, and at the Dismissal, and throughout the liturgical year (except during Lent), the same word is used in the Holy Mass. But what does “Alleluia” mean?
Alleluia comes from two Hebrew words: “Halelu,” (from “hillêl” which means “to praise“) and “Yah“, which means God. Hence, Alleluia means Praise God and Praise the Lord.
According to St. Augustine, the word Alleluia is a synthesis all authentic praise to God, as manifested by the words of the his commentary to Psalm 148:
Praise the Lord!
Praise the Lord from the heavens;
praise him in the heights!
2 Praise him, all his angels;
praise him, all his host!
3 Praise him, sun and moon;
praise him, all you shining stars!
4 Praise him, you highest heavens,
and you waters above the heavens!
11 Kings of the earth and all peoples,
princes and all rulers of the earth!
12 Young men and women alike,
old and young together!
13 Let them praise the name of the Lord,
for his name alone is exalted;
his glory is above earth and heaven.
14 He has raised up a horn for his people,
praise for all his faithful,
for the people of Israel who are close to him.
Praise the Lord!
But then, let us not only praise God with our lips, but with all our actions and with our entire being as we live according to His Most Divine Will. As St. Augustine says:
Now therefore, brethren, we urge you to praise God. That is what we are all telling each other when we say Alleluia. You say to your neighbor, “Praise the Lord!” and he says the same to you. We are all urging one another to praise the Lord, and all thereby doing what each of us urges the other to do. But see that your praise comes from your whole being; in other words, see that you praise God not with your lips and voices alone, but with your minds, your lives and all your actions.
We are praising God now, assembled as we are here in church; but when we go on our various ways again, it seems as if we cease to praise God. But provided we do not cease to live a good life, we shall always be praising God. You cease to praise God only when you swerve from justice and from what is pleasing to God. If you never turn aside from the good life, your tongue may be silent but your actions will cry aloud, and God will perceive your intentions; for as our ears hear each other’s voices, so do God’s ears hear our thoughts.
St. Augustine’s discourse on the Psalms (Ps. 148, 1-2: CCL 40, 2165-2166) used as 2nd reading of the Divine Office of Saturday of the 5th week of Easter
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