Are there any guidelines as to how the Exsultet is to be proclaimed? Must it be chanted, or can it be read?
I think saying the Easter Proclamation (Exsultet) is an option.
The 2010 Roman Missal published by Catholic Truth Society has the musical version on pages 382-387, then the “Text without music:” on pages 387-390.
The General Instruction of the Roman Missal has a section headed “The Importance of Singing”.
It includes: “40. Great importance should therefore be attached to the use of singing in the celebration of the Mass, with due consideration for the culture of the people and abilities of each liturgical assembly. Although it is not always necessary (e.g., in weekday Masses) to sing all the texts that are in principle meant to be sung, every care should be taken that singing by the ministers and the people not be absent in celebrations that occur on Sundays and Holydays of Obligation.
However, in the choosing of the parts actually to be sung, preference is to be given to those that are of greater importance and especially to those to be sung by the Priest or the Deacon or a reader, with the people replying, or by the Priest and people together.” A footnote to this is the 1967 Instruction Musicam Sacram.
The rubrics for the Easter Vigil include, in n. 19: “The Easter Proclamation may be made, in the absence of a Deacon, by the Priest himself or by another concelebrating Priest. If, however, because of necessity, a lay cantor sings the Proclamation, the words Therefore, dearest friends up to the end of the invitation are omitted, along with the greeting The Lord be with you.”
The sheet music and a recording are available at npm.org/Chants/proper.html where it is called “The Paschal Proclamation (Longer Form)”. The Roman Missal also has a Shorter Form of the Easter Proclamation.
I’ve never been anywhere where someone did NOT sing it.
It would be a shame not to have it sung.
Our priest sang it tonight and it was beautiful - very moving and prayerful.
The most important guideline is to chant it WELL. Deacons should learn to chant it, and should practice it extensively throughout Lent.
I’ve chanted the Exsultet every year since I’ve been ordained (10 years now), and I still practice every day for several weeks each year to do it properly and well.
The practice of having a layperson chant the Exsultet because of better vocal ability could be avoided by simply training the deacon (or if no deacon, a priest) to do it properly.
The liturgy is best celebrated when each person does what the Church calls for. Deacons should do what they are called to do in the liturgy, as should priests, servers, acolytes, lectors, choir, and so forth.
Someone taking the proper job of another in the liturgy may be allowed, but it is not ideal. Let us strive for the ideal when we celebrate the source and summit of our spiritual lives.
When I was ordained more than a quarter of a century ago, my pastor (who was musically gifted) said to me (very nicely), “As long as I’m here, you will never sing the Exsultet.” We are still very close friends. Since he left, I have sung it for the last twenty-three years. It is one of the greatest blessings of being a deacon. I am not musically gifted and I used to pick it out over and over again (with one finger) on a piano to get it into my mind, heart, and voice. Since there is now a new translation which is very different, I have found a website with words and music and find it very helpful. I am embarrassed by the compliments after the Vigil both because I don’t want to draw attention to myself and because I know how many mistakes I made in the chant. Here’s the main point: Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. If you really believe the liturgy is important, you will put the work into it that it deserves. If it is not important to you, it will show.