Monday, April 5, 2010

Hail Thee, Fesitival Day

The Easter Vigil is one of the most mysterious and wonderful services of the year. After dusk, the Archbishop lights the Easter fire outside the Cathedral, and the paschal candle is lit from the fire. Chanting, “Christ, our light,” he, or some more muscular acolyte, as the candle is very big, carries it into the totally dark cathedral. The candles of the faithful are lit from the paschal candle, and the light gradually spreads through the dark until hundreds, maybe a thousand, candles are lit. When I first heard that the service was going to be over three hours long, I was horrified. But it flies by. The Old Testament readings are vivid, telling of the creation, of Abraham and Isaac, of crossing the Red Sea when the Pharaoh’s soldiers “sank like a stone.” The chants are beautiful as well. And it is all in the dark!
On Easter morning, the choir processes into the church singing “Jesus Christ is Risen Today,” and as we come through the ceremonial doors, it is all light and golden!

Here is the procession in on Easter morning (photo taken by Maria). Rachael is ahead of me by two. At this point we were still quite perky, despite having gotten out of the vigil at nearly midnight, but there were three masses and the vesper service yet to go. By seven in the evening, I was an exhausted, limp rag. Here is a picture of choir members assembling before the procession, and of me trying be subtly take a picture to show you, and failing.


Janet said...

Wonderfully inspiring services Joanna. I had trouble finding the church I wanted even though I thought I knew where it was. It was full by the time I got there. I had a lot to think about - a very close friend here in Dublin passed away early Easter morning. I flew back on Monday and we're going to the funeral down in Cork tomorrow (Wednesday).

Knitman said...

I enjoy looking inside churches. The artistry and architecture enthral me.It astonishes me, especially the really old ones.

Lorette said...

I'm embarrassed to admit that I don't know as much about your church as I'd like. I'm Catholic, and our Easter Vigil service sounds much like yours. We do the Easter candle procession in the dark, same chant. And the OT readings are amazing. Do you have a cantor singing the Exultet? Do you do adult (and older children) baptisms that evening as well? We do, and it is incredibly powerful. Just about the time I'm tapping my foot and wishing it was over, Father Seamus gets in the font with the initiates, and it all gets very inspiring again.