Just to capture it: One of the more peaceful moments I’ve felt recently was at church on Easter. The choice sang Victimae Paschali, which I don’t think I’d ever heard before. Or maybe I had heard the song, and it hadn’t sunk in.
When the chant music blip happened in the ’90s, I was far too young and stress-free to appreciate it. This time around, I certainly had the stress and — I guess — the age. A factor, too, might have noticing a line of the song’s translation, “Death and life have contended in the combat stupendous.” What a line! Easter from its wildest perspective. The original Latin is okay — “Mors et vita duello conflixere mirando” — but doesn’t measure up.
The last factor that crossed my mind was the mix of voices. After listening to some YouTube renditions, the old-style all-male chant is fine and must be especially stunning before dawn — monk hours. The all-women version has equal power, bright and dawn-like. But for midday on Easter, together they burst like noon sun. It’s worth listening to both below and imagining.