Monday, April 19, 2010

Easter Even - the Triduum Part II

Easter Even begins with Morning Prayer, which is read very simply with the Venite and the Glorias omitted. The church is then prepared for the Vigil, and Evening Prayer is read privately.

The Vigil, after many years of being celebrated on the morning of Holy Saturday, moved back to the evening in the 1950s. Unfortunately, the traditional rite was dismantled at this time and replaced by the present unsatisfactory mess. The 1967 Holy Week Booklet follows the 1956 Pian Rite, but it avoids, or does not legislate some of the less satisfactory forms such as the "temporary stand" in the centre of the sanctuary.

The ministers are vested in violet, with folded chasubles for the deacon and subdeacon, at the start of the Vigil. This old custom was maintained in the 1951/52 editions of the revised Roman Holy Week rite, but dropped in 1956. This year I finally got a satisfactory "New Fire" by turning a coffee can into a brazier and filling it with paper and dry juniper sticks. With a little encouragement from the liturgical "Bic" it burned hot and bright in the evening air as we blessed the new fire. We then ignited coals for the thurible and blessed the candle before lighting it from the New Fire. The candle is then carried in procession to its candlesick on the north side of the High altar with three stations being made, one at the back of the Church; one amidships, and the last just in front of the altar steps. The deacon then reads or sings the "Exultet" before changing back into violet vestments and taking his place while two robed readers read the four prophecies. After each prophecy a collect is read.

At the end of the prophecies the sacred ministers process in the proper order to the font. The font is then blessed using the form in the 1928 BCP, then the congregation renews its baptismal promises and holy water is sprinkled over the congregation. For this I use the same bundle of twigs that I used for the washing of the altar on Maundy Thursday. A Litany and a hymn then follow as the sacred minsters return to the altar.

The remainder of the service consists of a fairly standard Sung Eucharist, but the Creed is omitted. The church bells are run during the Gloria in Excelsis to greet the Lord's Resurrection.

The 1967 order for the Easter Vigil has the usual issues associated with the Pius XII reform. The Exultet really works best when the Hastar or Trident is used and the candle is blessed in its stand by the altar and the five grains are blessed and stuck into the candle at the appropriate point in the prayer. However, the renewal of Baptismal Vows, though excoriated by traditionalists, works well.

Easter Sunday sees the usual Morning Prayer, said Holy Communion, and sung Holy Communion. Our Easter festivities conclude with a potluck lunch. After that it is time for the clergy to take a well earned rest - provided they are back again for Matins and Mass tomorrow.