Sunday, February 21, 2016

The Great Vigil of Easter, the New Fire

The Great Vigil of Easter

The Vigil of Easter should not begin until AFTER nautical twilight and should be finished before sunrise on Easter Day. The whole message is light in the midst of darkness, therefore it is inappropriate for the service to begin in day light.

The Clergy being assembled in the quire and having said noones of Holy Saturday, let the Officiant and the rest of the Ministers of the Altar, without light, candles, or fire in the censer after the bearer of the holy water, go through the quire in Procession to bless the new fire, the Choir following and sing the appointed hymn, " Blest Lord, Creator of the glowing light”

The New Fire and Lighting of the Paschal Candle

In darkness, fire is kindled. The Celebrant may address the people thusly.

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ: On this most holy night, in which our Lord Jesus Christ passed over from death to life, the Church invites her children, dispersed throughout the world, to gather in vigil and prayer.  For this is the Passover of the Lord, in which, by hearing his Word and celebrating his Sacraments, we share in his victory over death.

Then the fire is sprinkled with holy water and is blessed with these words.

O God, Who through Thy Son bestowed on the faithful the fire of Thy Glory, bless this new fire, and grant us, in the same manner that through this Paschal feast we may be so inflamed with heavenly desires, that with pure minds we may be made worthy to come to the feast of perpetual light. Through Christ our Lord who liveth and reigneth with Thee and the Holy Ghost, one God, world without end. Amen.

The Thurible if one be used is charged from the fire, incense is added with the normal blessing, " Be thou blessed by Him in whose honour thou art to be burned" and the fire may be censed

The Paschal Candle is then lighted from the newly kindled fire, and the Deacon (the Celebrant if there is no deacon) bearing the Candle, leads the procession to the chancel, pausing three times and singing or saying

The light of Christ.
People          Thanks be to God.

If candles have been distributed to members of the congregation, they are lighted from the Paschal Candle at this time.  Other candles and lamps in the church, except for those at the Altar, may also be lighted, but the principal of light amid darkness should be respected and too much light is a mistake. The Paschal Candle is placed in its stand. Then the Deacon, or other person appointed, standing near the Candle, sings or says the Exsultet, as follows

Rejoice now, heavenly hosts and choirs of angels,
and let your trumpets shout Salvation
for the victory of our mighty King.

Rejoice and sing now, all the round earth,
bright with a glorious splendor,
for darkness has been vanquished by our eternal King.

Rejoice and be glad now, Mother Church,
and let your holy courts, in radiant light,
resound with the praises of your people.

All you who stand near this marvelous and holy flame,
pray with me to God the Almighty
for the grace to sing the worthy praise of this great light;
through Jesus Christ his Son our Lord,
who lives and reigns with him,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever.  Amen.

Deacon         The Lord be with you.
Answer         And also with you.
Deacon         Let us give thanks to the Lord our God.
Answer         It is right to give him thanks and praise.

The Deacon says or sings

It is truly right and good, always and everywhere, with our
whole heart and mind and voice, to praise you, the invisible,
almighty, and eternal God, and your only-begotten Son,
Jesus Christ our Lord; for he is the true Paschal Lamb, who
at the feast of the Passover paid for us the debt of Adam’s sin,
and by his blood delivered your faithful people.

This is the night, when you brought our fathers, the children
of Israel, out of bondage in Egypt, and led them through the
Red Sea on dry land.

This is the night, when all who believe in Christ are delivered
from the gloom of sin, and are restored to grace and holiness
of life.

This is the night, when Christ broke the bonds of death and hell,
and rose victorious from the grave.

How wonderful and beyond our knowing, O God, is your
mercy and loving‑kindness to us, that to redeem a slave, you
gave a Son.

How holy is this night, when wickedness is put to flight, and
sin is washed away. It restores innocence to the fallen, and joy
to those who mourn. It casts out pride and hatred, and brings
peace and concord.

How blessed is this night, when earth and heaven are joined
and man is reconciled to God.

Holy Father, accept our evening sacrifice, the offering of this
candle in your honor.  May it shine continually to drive away
all darkness. May Christ, the Morning Star who knows no
setting, find it ever burning—he who gives his light to all
creation, and who lives and reigns for ever and ever.  Amen.

It is customary that the Paschal Candle burn at all services from Easter Day through the Day of Pentecost.

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