If Barack Obama's inauguration speech Tuesday was exceptionally somber and included relatively few lines designed to draw roars of approval from the enormous crowd, the day nonetheless resounded with jubilation.

WASHINGTON — If Barack Obama’s inauguration speech Tuesday was exceptionally somber and included relatively few lines designed to draw roars of approval from the enormous crowd, the day nonetheless resounded with jubilation.

As many as 2 million people flocked to the National Mall to take part in the event, spilling outward from the gleaming white Capitol steps toward the Washington Monument and the Lincoln Memorial more than a mile away.

Choirs sang. The world’s finest musicians — including classical violinist Itzhak Perlman and cellist Yo-Yo Ma, along with soul singer Aretha Franklin — performed. High-school bands paraded. And tears streamed down faces, weathered and smooth alike, here and around the globe, as the son of a white American and a black African immigrant ascended to his place in history.

People listened, mesmerized as the speech rolled across the mall from a sound system that took two or three seconds to reach the farthest reaches of the crowd.

The echo meant that the field never was quiet, even when Obama paused, as though the words of the day couldn’t be contained in a single moment or place.