Readings for the Easter Vigil

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helen rees
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Readings for the Easter Vigil

Post by helen rees »

I really love all the readings for the Easter vigil and the psalms so how do people choose which ones to use if they can only have 4? Which ones do you use?

Anne
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Re: Readings for the Easter Vigil

Post by Anne »

Why not have them all - it is hard to know which ones to leave out.
For the past 10 Easters I have been to the Easter Vigil in a University Chaplaincy where most of the congregation are students -We always have all the readings and all the psalms - The Easter vigil starts at 10.00pm (when it is really dark) and generally lasts a good 3 hours, (followed by a party). I would find it hard to go to a Vigil which doesn't have all the readings.

HallamPhil
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Re: Readings for the Easter Vigil

Post by HallamPhil »

I agree with my fellow Sheffielder Anne - all seven readings is an opportunity rather than a challenge. The only decision would then be over the choice of the 7th psalm dependent on whether you are celebrating baptisms that night.

When I was Music Director at St Ignatius Stamford Hill in the late 1980s Kevin Donovan and I devised a distillation of the 7 readings into one so that the essential events of each appeared with greater continuity than was possible with 7 readings interrupted by psalms etc. It was an interesting experiment in a parish where so many were not fluent English speakers but I have never advocated it since. There is something about the recognition of the presence of God through history as it gradually unfolds whic is lost. This takes time but it's worth it.

Southern Comfort
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Re: Readings for the Easter Vigil

Post by Southern Comfort »

The Missal itself says that you have to have serious pastoral circumstances [i.e. reasons] for reducing the number of OT readings (para 21 of the Vigil rite). It is the word "serious" which is new.

It's hard to envisage any that might occur. The fact that the priest wants to shorten the Vigil is not a serious pastoral reason. I can only think of one possible circumstance, and that would be in a community consisting entirely of very elderly people who simply couldn't sustain the whole Vigil. But in that case they wouldn't be baptising or receiving so the liturgy would already be shorter.

Mentioning the desire of the priest to shorten the Vigil reminds me that the Instruction on Celebrating Easter (Paschale Solemnitatis, 1988) was issued primarily to deal with the problem of italian clergy who apparently were racing through the Vigil in 45 minutes!

If providing all seven responsorial psalms is a problem, no 23 of the rite provides for the psalm to be replaced by silence — except for the Exodus canticle, which must never be omitted. I think losing those sung psalms would be an impoverishment, and a diminution of the meditative character of this Vigil. I do know of some parishes where they alternate psalm and silence, thus having singing after readings 1, 3 (Exodus), 5 and 7, and silence after 2, 4 and 6, though I wouldn't do this myself. Apart from anything else, there are very beautiful settings of those psalms (15/16, 29/30, 18/19) which recur during the Church Year.

If the priest is interested in shortening things a little, then he is now allowed (see para 49) to combine the profession of faith of those to be baptised and those (i.e. us) who already are baptised. The format for this is:

Priest: Do you reject Satan?
Elect: I do.
Everyone else: We do.

Priest: And all his works?
Elect: I do
Everyone else: We do.

and so on for the remainder of it. The theological point here is that on this occasion those to be baptised are making a personal profession of faith in the 1st person singular; but they know that the next time they do so they will be part of the Body, making a communal profession of faith in the 1st person plural.

JW
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Re: Readings for the Easter Vigil

Post by JW »

Well, we're only having 3 as in previous years. Personally I agree that the Easter Vigil should be something lengthy and sacrificial and the readings are listed for a reason. However, the majority of our parishoners are elderly and don't want to be out late at night. There was discussion last year about whether we increase the number of readings. At least one (young) person threatened not to come if the number of readings were increased. Is that serious pastoral reason?
JW

helen rees
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Re: Readings for the Easter Vigil

Post by helen rees »

I wish my PP would read instructions in the missal as I love all the readings and the psalms but unfortunately he insists that it must be short even though we have no baptisms. He did leave the choice of readings to me so "forgetting" that the new testament reading doesn't count in the four - I am going for the 2 Genesis readings, Exodus and have the Ezekiel reading (which is my favourite) and then the epistle. What do others do?

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VML
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Re: Readings for the Easter Vigil

Post by VML »

We will have all seven, and a baptism and three receptions. Starting at 8.30, and with the new Exsultet, we manage to find a different reader for each OT reading.
One of our 'choir' (two plus me at practice last week) has been involved making costumes for a cycle of Mystery Plays in Gloucester and Worcester Cathedrals, and I feel the Vigil is rather like that kind of pageant of our history: All wrong if you cut bits out.

I have to own up to driving the custom of doing it in full here for the last 25 years, encouraged by the then fairly recently arrived PP. Before that we had Vigils where there was no singing at all.

alan29
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Re: Readings for the Easter Vigil

Post by alan29 »

For much of my life it has been the full seven, and marvellous too. But where I am now it has always been just the four - Creation, Abraham and Isaac, Red Sea and Ezekiel, though we do manage four different cantors. Interestingly numbers have been dropping, though we generally have at least one reception. Maybe the decline in numbers has something to do with our ageing parish population.

Peter
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Re: Readings for the Easter Vigil

Post by Peter »

We have four OT readings at the Vigil, but which four varies from year to year. This year it's the 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 6th. Attendance is normally lower than on Good Friday or Easter Sunday and would probably be even lower if we had it later (8.30 pm this year) or if we had more readings. The rival attraction is the nearby Cathedral, where I gather the Vigil this year starts at 8 pm and last year had only three OT readings (1st, 3rd and 5th).

In my parish (two churches, Triduum services shared between them), the Vigil is at the church I don't normally go to but our choir sings the Psalms between the readings and this year readers from both churches are sharing the readings, not only at the Vigil but on Holy Thursday and Good Friday as well. My preference would be to have all seven readings but I think I'm in a minority. :(

Howard Baker
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Re: Readings for the Easter Vigil

Post by Howard Baker »

Lovely to have all the readings, but if there are multiple baptisms and receptions, perhaps confirmations too, and plenty of singing, doesn't that mean two-and-a-half hours plus? Can even the enthusiasts last that long? (It reminds me of a wonderful passage in David Madsen's novel, 'Memoirs of a Gnostic Dwarf', in which the pope is mightily grateful for a device which allows him to get through the interminable papal ceremonies without a comfort break, and, in the interests of east-west rapprochement, sends one of the contraptions to the Patricarch of Constantinople, who was obliged to endure even longer liturgies.)

alan29
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Re: Readings for the Easter Vigil

Post by alan29 »

Howard Baker wrote:Lovely to have all the readings, but if there are multiple baptisms and receptions, perhaps confirmations too, and plenty of singing, doesn't that mean two-and-a-half hours plus? Can even the enthusiasts last that long? (It reminds me of a wonderful passage in David Madsen's novel, 'Memoirs of a Gnostic Dwarf', in which the pope is mightily grateful for a device which allows him to get through the interminable papal ceremonies without a comfort break, and, in the interests of east-west rapprochement, sends one of the contraptions to the Patricarch of Constantinople, who was obliged to endure even longer liturgies.)

got to get that book - sounds like my kind of thing.

Southern Comfort
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Re: Readings for the Easter Vigil

Post by Southern Comfort »

Howard Baker wrote:doesn't that mean two-and-a-half hours plus? Can even the enthusiasts last that long?


Probably 3+ hours. The thing is, it's not the length that counts but the engagement of the assembly. If the readings are very well read, if the symbolism is extremely well done, if the presider is doing his job really well, if there is a sense of progression through the liturgy, then people will not notice how long it is taking because they will be on board. You don't have to be an enthusiast to last that long.

And having had such a wonderful, intense and lengthy experience, you simply have to have a party afterwards, ideally for the baptised and received if you have those. The whole parish continues its celebration in a different way. That's the way to build numbers and build community. It doesn't matter if the priest has to get up in a few hours' time. So do the musicians. So what? It's only once a year, and it's worth making the effort to give people a really vibrant experience of Church. You can sleep later.....

Howard Baker
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Re: Readings for the Easter Vigil

Post by Howard Baker »

If... If... If... If... Well, yes. It would, in those circumstances, be wonderful. (At three hours plus, do you have an intermission? Kia-Ora at the offertory?)

Anne
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Re: Readings for the Easter Vigil

Post by Anne »

I was once in a parish which did have a tea break in the middle of the Vigil. After the blessing of the fire / candle etc we processed into a dark and plain church where we had the Exultet and readings from the Old Testament. Then we all went into the school hall for a cup of tea, and when we came back the church had been transformed with flowers, banners, lights etc, and we carried on with the Gloria, the Gospel, and the rest of the vigil. It was very impressive

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musicus
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Re: Readings for the Easter Vigil

Post by musicus »

I was surprised to see that they are only using three in the Vatican this year. (There are downloadable PDFs of the Holy Week liturgies at www.vatican.va/ ) Does anyone know if this is typical?
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