The Great Vigil of Easter is the most important service of public worship and Mass of the liturgical year. It is the first celebration of the Gloria during the fifty-day long celebration of Easter, marked by the first use since the beginning of Lent of the exclamatory "Alleluia," a distinctive feature of the Easter season.
The service normally consists of four parts:
- The Service of Light
- The Service of Lessons
- Christian Initiation, or the Renewal of Baptismal Vows
- The Holy Eucharist with the administration of Easter Communion
The Service of Light begins outside the church with the "New Fire." The Pascal Candle is lit and leads the procession into the Sanctuary. It is announced "The Light of Christ" to which we respond "Thanks be to God." We are reminded that Christ is the "light" in the darkness of life for Christians everywhere. The great hymn, The Exsultet, is sung, the sweeping story of salvation history is recounted, the Resurrection of Jesus is proclaimed (loudly!) with the ringing of bells.
The Liturgy of the Word begins with readings from the Old Testament and continues through the Gospel of the Resurrection.
Then follows the year's principal rites of Baptism and Eucharist. The congregation renews their baptismal vows and the Liturgy of the Eucharist continues as usual.
Enjoy this special service on Saturday, March 30 at the following parishes:
Calvary Episcopal Church, East Liberty, starting at 8 p.m.
St. Paul's Episcopal Church, Mt. Lebanon, 7:30 p.m.
St. Thomas Memorial Church, Oakmont, 7:30 p.m.
Christ Episcopal Church, North Hills, 8 p.m.
Church of the Redeemer, Squirrel Hill, 8 p.m.