Rejoice and be glad now, Mother Church, and let your holy courts, in radiant light, resound with the praises of your people..
-The Exsultet, The Great Vigil of Easter, The Book of Common Prayer, page 286
The Exsultet (Latin, Praeconium Paschale, “Easter Proclamation”) is the ancient prayer that begins the Great Vigil of Easter. After the kindling of the new fire (regeneration, rebirth, resurrection) and the lighting of the Paschal Candle (“the pillar of cloud by and the pillar of fire by night” that led the Hebrews in the Exodus), this great prayer, dating from various fifth-century Gallican sacramentaries, is sung.
Baptism is a sacramental rite central to the Great Vigil of Easter. From the earliest of Christian worship practices as recorded by the third-century theologian Hippolytus of Rome (170-235), we know that, after an entire Lenten season of specific preparation, early Christian baptism candidates were brought before the Bishop during the night and wee hours of Easter morning for confession, baptism by immersion and anointing with chrism (perfumed oil, “the oil of thanksgiving”).
When no baptism candidates are present, the congregation may renew their own baptismal vows, which is what we will observe at the Easter Vigil this year. To also mark the remembrance of our own baptisms, the celebrant will asperse (sprinkle) the people with baptismal water that has been blessed according to ancient rite.
As we marked the beginning of Lent by the Ash Wednesday words, “Remember you are dust, and to dust you shall return” as ashes were imposed on our foreheads, may we all triumphantly end our Lenten journeys this year by renewing our own baptisms and the sprinkling of baptismal water, a mark of our own resurrection in Jesus Christ Our Lord. Rejoice and be glad, Mother Church: in radiant light… the Lord is risen indeed. Alleluia.
The Easter Vigil will feature the White Station High School Chorale singing spirituals and music by Alice Parker and Pavel Tschesnokoff; it will take place Saturday, April 4 at 8:00 in the Nave.
Easter Day services are at 6:30, 9:00, 11:00 and 5:30.