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Holy Week and Easter ~ Easter Eve

Easter Vigil at Home

The oldest feature of the celebration of Easter is a vigil of watching and waiting, which in early times the Church kept throughout the night, meditating on the mighty acts of God in the Scriptures and praying until dawn, when Christ’s resurrection was acclaimed.

In the Service of Light the resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ is proclaimed in both spoken word and dramatic ceremony, the Easter candle symbolizing Christ, the light of the world, risen from the darkness of the grave. The church is in darkness and the new fire is kindled. The Easter Candle is then marked with the sign of the cross, the symbol of life and death; the first and last letters of the Greek alphabet, Alpha and Omega, a reminder that Christ is the beginning and the end of all things; the numerals of the current year, indicating that Christ is present here and now among his people; and five ‘nails’ of incense inserted in the shape of the cross, symbolizing the wounds of Christ. The Candle is then lit and the responsory ‘The Light of Christ’ is sung, the Candle is carried in procession to its stand at the High Altar and the ancient Easter Song of Praise - the Exsultet - is sung.

In the early centuries of the Church’s history, Easter was usually the only season in the year when baptisms were regularly administered. In time it became the opportunity for the renewal of baptismal vows by the whole congregation as the affirmation of our union with Christ in his death and resurrection. Thus this evening we renew our Baptismal Vows too.

A new flame is kindled, and the Vicar says

Eternal God, who made this most holy night to shine with the brightness of your one true light: set us aflame with the fire of your love, and bring us to the radiance of your heavenly glory; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

The form of the cross is traced on the Easter Candle, the Greek letters Alpha and Omega above and below the cross, and the numerals of the current year between the arms of the cross.

Christ yesterday and today,
the beginning and the end, Alpha and Omega,
all time belongs to him, and all ages;
to him be glory and power,
through every age and for ever. Amen.

Five ‘nails’ of incense are inserted into the Easter Candle, in the form of the cross.

By his holy and glorious wounds may Christ our Lord guard us and keep us. Amen.

The Easter Candle is lit.

May the light of Christ, rising in glory, banish all darkness from our hearts and minds.

The lighted Candle is raised, and the Vicar sings

The Light of Christ.
All sing      Thanks be to God.

The Paschal Proclamation

The Vicar sings the ‘Exsultet’

Easter Anthem

This Joyful Eastertide,
Away with Sin and Sorrow
My Love, the Crucified,
Hath sprung to life this morrow:

Had Christ, that once was slain,
Ne’er burst his three-day prison,
Our faith had been in vain:
But now hath Christ arisen.

My flesh in hope shall rest,
And for a season slumber:
Till trump from east to west
Shall wake the dead in number:

Death’s flood hath lost its chill.
Since Jesus crossed the river:
Lover of souls, from ill
My passing soul deliver:

Words: G.R Woodward (1848-1934)

Charles Wood (1866-1926)

Let us pray.

The Collect of the day

Lord of all life and power, who through the mighty resurrection of your Son overcame the old order of sin and death to make all things new in him: grant that we, being dead to sin and alive to you in Jesus Christ, may reign with him in glory; to whom with you and the Holy Spirit be praise and honour, glory and might, now and in all eternity. Amen.

The Easter Gospel

adapted from Dorthy L Sayers and read by the Drama Group.

The Renewal of Baptismal Vows

Taizé chant: There is one God, one Faith, one Baptism

Praise God who made heaven and earth,
who keeps his promise for ever.

Let us give thanks to the Lord our God.
It is right to give thanks and praise.

Father, for your gift of water in creation,
we give you thanks and praise.

For your Spirit, sweeping over the waters, bringing light and life,
we give you thanks and praise.

For your Son Jesus Christ our Lord, baptized in the river Jordan,
we give you thanks and praise.

For your new creation, brought to birth by water and the Spirit,
we give you thanks and praise.

For your grace bestowed upon us your children, washing away our sins,
we give you thanks and praise.

Father, accept our sacrifice of praise; may your holy and life-giving Spirit move upon the waters.
Lord, receive our prayer.

Restore through them the beauty of your creation, and bring those who are baptized to new birth in the family of your Church.
Lord, receive our prayer.

Drown sin in the waters of judgement, anoint your children with power from on high, and make them one with Christ in the freedom of your kingdom.
Lord, receive our prayer.

For all might, majesty and dominion are yours, now and for ever. Amen.

Do you believe and trust in God the Father?
I believe in God, the Father almighty, creator of heaven and earth.

Do you believe and trust in his Son Jesus Christ?
I believe in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord, who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died and was buried; he descended to the dead. On the third day he rose again; he ascended into heaven; he is seated at the right hand of the Father, and he will come again to judge the living and the dead.

Do you believe and trust in the Holy Spirit?
I believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy catholic Church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting. Amen.

In baptism, God calls us out of darkness into his marvellous light. To follow Christ means dying to sin and rising to new life with him. Therefore I ask:

Do you reject the devil and all rebellion against God?
I reject them.

Do you renounce the deceit and corruption of evil?
I renounce them.

Do you repent of the sins that separate us from God and neighbour?
I repent of them.

Do you turn to Christ as Saviour?
I turn to Christ.

Do you submit to Christ as Lord?
I submit to Christ.

Do you come to Christ, the way, the truth and the life?
I come to Christ.

Let us pray.

Almighty God, we thank you for our fellowship in the household of faith with all those who have been baptised in your name. Keep us faithful to our baptism, and so make us ready for that day when the whole creation shall be made perfect in your Son, our Saviour Jesus Christ. Amen.


Thine be the glory, risen, conquering Son,
Endless is the victory thou o'er death hast won;
Angels in bright raiment rolled the stone away,
Kept the folded grave-clothes where thy body lay.

Thine be the glory, risen, conquering Son,
Endless is the vict'ry thou o'er death hast won.

Lo, Jesus meets us, risen from the tomb;
Lovingly he greets us, scatters fear and gloom;
Let the Church with gladness hymns of triumph sing,
For her Lord now liveth, death hath lost its sting:

No more we doubt thee, glorious Prince of Life;
Life is nought without thee: aid us in our strife,
Make us more than conquerors through thy deathless love;
Bring us safe through Jordan to thy home above:

Words: French, Edmond Budry (1854-1932), trans. Richard Birch Hoyle (1875-1939)
Tune:   MACCABAEUS George Frideric Handel (1685-1759)

The Blessing and Dismissal

God the Father, by whose glory Christ was raised from the dead, strengthen you by his life-giving Spirit to walk with him in the paths of righteousness and peace; and the blessing of God almighty, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit be amongst you and remain with you always. Amen.

We go in the peace of Christ. Alleluia! Alleluia!
Thanks be to God. Alleluia! Alleluia!

Happy Easter!

This year we shall be celebrating Holy Week and Easter differently because of the current Coronavirus situation. Please click on the links below to access the relevant pages.