The Sicilian Easter chants: a great tradition of the Holy Week

Sicilian Easter chants


In Sicily, Easter is always a time of great religious fervour. A time also enriched by a series of ancient and evocative traditions. One of them still survives in some small towns, such as Montedoro, Capizzi, Leonforte, Cerami, Tusa Delia, Alcara li Fusi, Longi. We are talking about the Sicilian Easter songs.


The tradition

They are very peculiar songs, for the technique that is used for the performing. In fact, the Sicilian Easter songs are performed without any musical accompaniment, but “only” tuning each other the different voices of the various singers.


What is performed

  • Canti (chants). Miserere, Stabat Mater, Gloria, Vexilla Regis and Magnificat are performed in Vulgar Latin, in Italian and in Sicilian dialect.
  • Lamintanzi. Also called “lamentanze”, they are songs of lament, usually in Latin or in dialect. They are performed by young singers, elders or brothers. This tradition is still alive in Enna, Caltanissetta and Bivona.
  • Ladate. Even these are songs of lament: the pain of the faithful for the death of Jesus Christ.


When they’re performed

The Sicilian Easter chants are a tradition that enriches the Holy Week in this beautiful island. In particular, it is not uncommon to hear them as “accompaniment” of the various processions that take place in several towns of Sicily. To perform them, are the so-called lamentatori (literally, “complainers”): usually, there is a cantor with other voices.


A chant: Lu venniri a matinu


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