Quick Easter Survey

M and I were quite puzzled this year. Most of the higher churches in the admittedly MOTR-to-low diocese did Easter Vigils this year–at 6:00 Sunday morning. Only a couple retained the usual Saturday evening position. I’d never heard of that before, yet a bunch of folks seemed to do it en masse.
Did anything like this happen around your dioceses or this just a localized phenomenon?

12 thoughts on “Quick Easter Survey

  1. lutherpunk

    That is what we do. Part of this is that we do not have a tradition at this parish of doing a Vigil. We still gather in the dark, light the fire, sing the Exulstet, renew baptismal vows…all that smoke and water stuff. We just begin about 8 hours or so after some other churches.

  2. Richard

    Sounds like the old prot “Sunrise service,” which we do ecumeniacally with the other churches here at the beach.

    We do it on Saturday as soon as it’s truly dark, lighting the fire in the churchyard, among the tombs. I once served a church in SW Fla.(as an asst) where we began at 6, did the whole shebang to to Alleluia, Xt is risen, and then broke for breakfast. The rest of the thing was done at the 8 am service. Quite an anti-climax.

    Used to do it as “midnight mass” starting at 10 or so so we could end around midnight, but age has made it so I’m non compos mentis for the am services if I try that.

    In seminary (Sewanee) we began at four or so with a huge new fire and long procession to the chapel (this was in the old days when the chapel was in the middle of campus and we processed to the hooting of some enebriated frat boys). With all nine vigil lessons, psalms and silence the sun was just peeking in the east window as we got to the surrexit. Best I’ve seen, but hard to convince the dogfaces in the rtenches to get up that early.

    I think we tend to consult our own convenience for what we do. Not sure most of us have a real sense of standing vigil in our collective psyches.

  3. Chris T.

    AFAIK, this change didn’t happen in the Episcopal Diocese of NC. I went to a Vigil at 7:30pm last night, and several other parishes seemed to be doing the usual Sabbath vigil.

  4. bls

    I think the morning time is more “correct,” actually, isn’t it? Isn’t the whole idea sort of like the old Matins-at-3-a.m.-till-dawn thing?

    The convent does it at 6 a.m., BTW.

  5. Chris T.

    The rubrics in the AB suggest that Easter morning didn’t develop a full Matins because the Vigil service was anticipated on Saturday very early in the game. So which one is more “correct” would depend on one’s frame of reference, I think. :-)

  6. Caelius Spinator

    Hmm…, the clergy were there at 4:30 AM anyway…

    But honestly, I’ve never heard of a 6 AM Vigil in my other Dioceses.

    Reading Egeria, I think bls may be right. But unfortunately this practice requires cocks to crow, and we lack chickens in this neighborhood, though they are not necessarily absent from the Diocese.

  7. bls

    So which one is more “correct” would depend on one’s frame of reference, I think.

    As always, Chris T. ;)

    Blessed Easter to all. Truly, the Lord is risen!

  8. lutherpunk

    I think there is a connection to the more Protestant Sunrise service, but the way I see it, we are still gathering in the pitch black. The fire is dispersing the darkness. The cool thing is that dawn is just breaking as we approach the altar.

    …we lack chickens in this neighborhood, though they are not necessarily absent from the Diocese.

    I hope you can hear my laughter after reading this! Nice, dry jab!

  9. Derek the Ænglican

    I think we tend to consult our own convenience for what we do. Not sure most of us have a real sense of standing vigil in our collective psyches.

    I think Richard’s hit it on the head here. It’s strange… The only vigils I’ve experienced or seen advertised up to now have been Sat. evening, the sudden shift here to Sun. morning comes as a surprise but certainly does fit more with the culture. As it’s a predominantly protestant area people are much more used to the idea of a sunrise service.

    I like the Vigil. Especially when it’s done well. But I honestly haven’t seen it done yet in a way that I think accommodates families with small (or even medium-sized) children. My theological preference is to have it Sat. night with the Eucharist commencing at midnight, but as a parent who is serious about having my kids in church for the major celebrations, well, I don’t know…

  10. Marshall Scott

    Having attended the same seminary as Richard (albeit, I think, in a different generation) I have had the same experience with the pre-dawn Vigil. It is powerful to come to the Eucharist of the Resurrection as the sun comes pouring in (I first typed “son,” a wonderful Freudian slip). When I was a campus pastor I began at 10:30 p.m., and came to the Eucharist of the Resurrection about 12:30 a.m., depending on whether or not there was a baptism.

    My (bearable) discomfort with earlier Vigils is in fact that we come to the Eucharist of the Resurrection well ahead of the story, as it were. The women didn’t come as soon as possible after sunset began the third day, because they would need daylight to do the work they intended. As our people begin days with sunrise rather than sunset, early vigils come to the Eucharist well before they could imagine the beginning of the third day. At least arriving there after midnight comes close; but one local parish began their Vigil at 5:30 p.m. – they would have hardly come to sunset, much less to what would feel to communicants like the third day.

    But, then, perhaps I’m just a bit curmudgeonly on this one….

  11. *Christopher


    Have you ever been to an Eastern Orthodox Vigil where it goes from 10pm to 4 or 5am? There is precedent for this sort of thing, granted culturally, most Americans would balk at the idea (and those who think they’re going to such for a cool cultural experience get more than they bargained for :) ). I’ve seen Vigils start as early as 6pm and as late as 1030pm, but I think you make a very good point about what is best with children.

    Overall, better puzzled than horrified given my latest post on an area vigil in sharp contrast to the one I helped plan at the Lutheran sem. which I described at Caelius’ place:

    On Holy Wednesday, we used Luther’s Deutsche Messe with Luther’s chant setting of the Verba and in which the Eucharistic Prayer ends with the Sanctus(using Luther’s setting), the elevation happening at the Benedictus–the blessed is He…which it took an Anglican liturgical scholar in this century to notice for Lutherans the power of this reform regarding the Real Presence and eschatology. Luther *got* the Sanctus/Benedictus like no one else in liturgical history.

    On Maundy Thursday, the sermon was incredible, with footwashing by all, and another Lutheran arrangement of the Eucharistic Prayer.

    Good Friday found us on our knees at the bidding prayers and hearing the Solemn Reproaches chanted from the Roman Missal as we reverenced the cross.

    But the best of all, was The Great Vigil. This was the first time in my life that we read more than 5 readings (we did 9) and that we kept to a pattern of reading, response (or silence as response in a few cases), silence, prayer. No hokey sounds or drama shows for the readings. No rattling noises as I proclaimed the Ezekiel. No water noises as another lector proclaimed God’s salvation at the Red Sea. Thanks be to God! The eucharistic bread was challah with orange essence. And hot cross buns for all afterwards.

    And then I ushered on Easter Sunday, which led to interesting converse afterwards.

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