Author Topic: Easter Vigils  (Read 3533 times)

BrotherBoris

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Easter Vigils
« on: March 31, 2010, 01:12:47 PM »
How widespread is the practice of having an Easter Vigil on Holy Saturday in the Lutheran Church?  Is this practice catching on? Or is it rare? Is it more popular in certain areas of the country than in others?

Over a decade ago I attended a fine Easter Vigil at Trinity Lutheran Church (ELCA) in Greenville, SC. It was very well put together, the music was top notch, the singing of the Exsulset was superb and it was quite effective at creating that special joy that only an Easter vigil can. However, for whatever reason, the practice did not take root there, and Trinity, insofar as I know, no longer celebrates the Easter Vigil.

Does the ELCA celebrate the Easter Vigil more often than the LCMS? Or is it about equal? What about the WELS and ELS? Have they taken to celebrating Easter Vigils too?

Any responses would be welcome.

Boris

Brian Stoffregen

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Re: Easter Vigils
« Reply #1 on: March 31, 2010, 01:22:55 PM »
I inherited a Saturday evening service at this Call. I thought it more appropriate to do the Easter Vigil on Holy Saturday, so we the first Easter Vigil last year. Doing it again this year.

One of the major adaptations is that our "paschal candle" is an oil-filled tube. Somewhat necessary in our summer heat -- so it will not be part of the procession from the fire outdoors to the dark sanctuary. I plan to light it with a candle that I'll be holding.
« Last Edit: March 31, 2010, 01:24:38 PM by Brian Stoffregen »
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Charles_Austin

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Re: Easter Vigils
« Reply #2 on: March 31, 2010, 01:26:46 PM »
Easter Vigils are common out here in the wilds of New Jersey, and often several parishes will join together to celebrate one vigil.

peter_speckhard

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Re: Easter Vigils
« Reply #3 on: March 31, 2010, 01:28:49 PM »
We started a Saturday evening Easter Vigil when we noticed waning interest in the sunrise service. We used to do three services on Easter Sunday, but the sunrise service, which back in the day would have been a biggie, had easily become the smallest of the three, while the other two were overflowing. So about four years ago we changed the sunrise service to a vigil service, but that didn't work because it was too unlike the other two services and thus hard to prepare for three consecutive services. So this will be our third time doing the Vigil on Saturday at 8:00 p.m.. It is still fairly small, probably fewer than 100, but this year we'll have the baptism of my son and another adult baptism of a new member. We do the whole thing, from the fire lit outside, the candle procession with individual candles lit from the Christ candle and so forth, but we reduce the number of OT readings. Those who come consider it one of the highlights of the year.

peterm

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Re: Easter Vigils
« Reply #4 on: March 31, 2010, 01:32:51 PM »
My first parish had a strong tradition of doing an Easter vigil, which for a new pastor who grew up with strong Norwegian low church roots, was a meaningful and learning experience.  The practice of vigil was pretty standardl in that area of Upstate NY.  Many of those parishes were Augustana and ULCA in roots, so that may have had something to do with it.
Rev. Peter Morlock- ELCA pastor serving two congregations in WIS

J. Thomas Shelley

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Re: Easter Vigils
« Reply #5 on: March 31, 2010, 01:56:21 PM »
This is my 22nd Triduum in the Hanover Conference.  When I began, there was one congregation which held an Easter Vigil--a congregation which up until (then) ten years before had been in a shared ministry with mine.  So it was a natural for us to participate in their Vigil.  We still had a sunrise service in those days.

The Pastor of the former other church was eager to hand off the Vigl to me, and I the sunrise to him.  So for the next decade we hosted the Vigil while the other congregation hosted sunrise.  Eventually, when our participation in the sunrise tailed off we stopped "official" participation, although a few members still join in that service.

Through the years our Vigil has seen attendance of between 25 and 65% of Sunday average--granted, that is still much smaller than Easter Day.  In eight of the past ten years there have been Baptisms--last year had four, an all time high.

We begin outside with the new fire, the congregation lighting their tapers as we enter the Nave.  So the time of the liturgy varies; always after astronomical sunset, rounded up to the next quarter-hour so this year will be 7:45.

The Old Testament reading are reducted to four:  Genesis 1; Exodus 14; Isaiah 55; and Daniel 3.   During the Asperges we sing the Litany from Evening Prayer.  To allow maximum time for the transformation from purple to gold and bare to decorated we sing the four verses of All Glory be to God on High as the Gloria.   From that point onward the liturgy is virtually identical to that of the following day to make life simpler for Organist and choir.

My wife is the Choir Director, and every year makes bowls of about a pound of home made dark chocolate for the choir and other worship leaders.  Those who come to the Vigil can have their baskets that night.  We have nearly a full choir!   Shameless bribery, but it works.
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Weedon

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Re: Easter Vigils
« Reply #6 on: March 31, 2010, 02:06:23 PM »
I have no way of knowing it's more common, but I know a number of LCMS parishes that celebrate the Vigil in my area of the country - including ours.

edoughty

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Re: Easter Vigils
« Reply #7 on: March 31, 2010, 02:08:13 PM »
My home church in Illinois apparently has no tradition of Easter Vigil; odd, since it was fairly liturgical in other regards.  We did not do Easter Vigil at college but then again, we usually were on break anyway.

Saint Paul Reformation does not do Easter Vigil, but they do direct folks who wish to attend the Vigil to neighboring Redeemer On Dale:
http://www.redeemerstpaul.org/Events.htm

A local congregation renowned for its liturgy, Mount Olive, will absolutely, definitely, without any doubt do Easter Vigil.
http://www.mountolivechurch.org/HolyWeek-Triduum_Schedule.htm

My current congregation, happily, does celebrate the Vigil; less "high" than Mount Olive, but with at least the basic readings.  Every year something is a little different at ours.  One year they told the Stories of salvation via life-size puppets.  One year they set up a "campfire" in the chancel and a seminarian who had memorized the texts did storytelling.  This year we will celebrate at the Vigil by dancing around the fire, the font, and the altar.  But the liturgy at the heart of it all is constant.

I do think there is a bit of a revival of the Vigil, at least in these parts.

Michael_Rothaar

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Re: Easter Vigils
« Reply #8 on: March 31, 2010, 02:08:29 PM »
and Daniel 3.  

Gee, I've grown to hate that reading. Someday I'll get rebellious and replace it with Ezekiel even though it's "required." (I'll re-interpret the word "required" to mean only in cases where you don't want to sit still for seven or twelve Old Testament readings.) ;)
« Last Edit: March 31, 2010, 02:10:02 PM by Michael_Rothaar »
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edoughty

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Re: Easter Vigils
« Reply #9 on: March 31, 2010, 02:12:30 PM »
and Daniel 3.  

Gee, I've grown to hate that reading. Someday I'll get rebellious and replace it with Ezekiel even though it's "required." (I'll re-interpret the word "required" to mean only in cases where you don't want to sit still for seven or twelve Old Testament readings.) ;)

You say that now, but you know you'll miss the sound of the horn, flute, zither, lyre, harp, pipes and entire musical ensemble.  ;-)

Richard Johnson

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Re: Easter Vigils
« Reply #10 on: March 31, 2010, 02:50:44 PM »
and Daniel 3.  

Gee, I've grown to hate that reading. Someday I'll get rebellious and replace it with Ezekiel even though it's "required." (I'll re-interpret the word "required" to mean only in cases where you don't want to sit still for seven or twelve Old Testament readings.) ;)

Gosh, Michael, that's my very favorite reading of the entire year. I like the "holy humor," which, seems to me, strikes just the right note at the climax of the Easter Vigil.
The Rev. Richard O. Johnson, STS

J. Thomas Shelley

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Re: Easter Vigils
« Reply #11 on: March 31, 2010, 02:56:25 PM »
and Daniel 3.   

Gee, I've grown to hate that reading. Someday I'll get rebellious and replace it with Ezekiel even though it's "required." (I'll re-interpret the word "required" to mean only in cases where you don't want to sit still for seven or twelve Old Testament readings.) ;)

Gosh, Michael, that's my very favorite reading of the entire year. I like the "holy humor," which, seems to me, strikes just the right note at the climax of the Easter Vigil.

I usually at least crack a couple of smiles if not an outright guffaw or two as I hear that text!
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Kevin Palmer

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Re: Easter Vigils
« Reply #12 on: March 31, 2010, 03:10:54 PM »
My impression is that the Easter Vigil is probably a bit more common in the ELCA, but is gaining in popularity in the LCMS (we're always a little behind!).  Personally, having been baptized and confirmed in an LCMS congregation, I knew nothing of the Easter Vigil until I was a student at Valparaiso University.  As a pastor, I was only at my first parish for about 3 years, and never introduced it there, but I inherited a Vigil at my current call.  However, it wasn't done in its fullness.  This year, for the first time, I'll have the service start outside around a fire, from which the Paschal Candle will be lit, and then process into the church.  After the Service of Light, we'll do 4 readings from the O.T. (Creation, the Flood, Israel's Deliverance at the Red Sea, and the Fiery Furnace), followed by the baptismal festival in which this year 3 children and 1 adult will be baptized, and our adult catechumens will affirm their baptisms and be welcomed into fellowship.  After that is the proclamation of the Easter Gospel, and celebration of Holy Communion. 

I've come to truly love the Great Vigil...it's right up there with Christmas Eve and Good Friday as my favorite services of the year.   :)

Ken Kimball

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Re: Easter Vigils
« Reply #13 on: March 31, 2010, 03:14:58 PM »
We've done the Easter Vigil service here at Paint Creek for a dozen years running.  We do it at whichever congregation doesn't have the sunrise service.  Weather permitting we start with the fire outside in the parking lot (if we don't get some rain by Saturday we may be under a burning ban).  We do 7 readings.  No baptisms yet so it's a remembrance of Baptism at the conclusion of the service. 
Ken

JEdwards

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Re: Easter Vigils
« Reply #14 on: March 31, 2010, 03:49:06 PM »
This will be our 10th year of celebrating the Vigil.  We usually do about 7 of the OT readings, with many presented in a way to involve kids and maintain their attention.  In the past, we have used slides downloaded from NASA to show as Gen. 1 is read.  Gen 22 is presented in dramatic fashion (This year, I play Abraham and my son will be Isaac); a kids' choir sings "Dem Dry Bones" for Ezekiel 37.  I think the choir has sung "Come to the Water" for Isaiah 55, etc.  As the Exultet proclaims, "O night truly blessed..."

Jon