Monthly Archives: April 2020

Holy Saturday Service Video Clip

Background to this ancient liturgy
This service has its origins in the 4th century Eastern Orthodox church as a night time Vigil of waiting, fasting and prayer.  In the West this came to symbolise the return of the light of Christ and the beginning of the Easter celebration. The service begins with the ‘new fire’ outside, from which a taper is lit. By candlelight 5 nails (representing the 5 wounds of Christ) are inserted into the large Paschal (Easter) candle. Sometimes the nails have incense on the head, and this represents the aromatic spices used to prepare Christ’s body for burial.
The large Paschal candle is lit from the taper with the new fire, and the light is brought into the church. In candlelight, the Exsultet is sung. This is thought to have been written by St Ambrose and, if so, must pre-date his death in 397 AD. Then all the lights come on, and the liturgy continues. The English translation omitted the ancient reference to  the usefulness of bees but, in these ecological times, it is sometimes reinstated; I like the link back to the first monks and nuns who kept this liturgy alive, and probably kept bees. So I’m including the bees this year.
Light now floods the church and the sound of handbells rings out the tidings that Christ has not died, but is risen! We sing the Gloria and hear the first Alleluias, neither of which do we hear throughout the whole of the Lenten season. 

Holy Saturday Service Video Click Here

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