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Easter Vigil - Holy Week at Home 2020

Sunday 12th April, 10am

If you prefer you may use this service the night before or at dawn on Sunday.


The great celebration of Jesus rising to new life. Beginning in darkness we build in anticipation until you are invited to make a great noise - whether with bells, clapping, musical instruments, or pots and pans! 

The Revd David Kirkwood will reflect on a different painting by Caspar David Friedrich. We also renew our baptismal vows in the knowledge that, through the power of God, new life and joy has come out of the death and despair of the cross.


This service has been uploaded as a video.

Please click below to watch it:

Easter Morning, by Caspar David Friedrich


As we await the risen Christ, let us hear the record of God’s saving deeds in history, recalling how he saved his people in ages past and in the fullness of time sent his Son to be our Redeemer; and let us pray that through this Easter celebration God may bring to perfection in each of us the saving work he has begun.

Vigil readings

Blessed are you, Lord, God of our salvation.

Your love cannot be contained and overflows in the wonder of creation. You formed the universe out of nothing and moulded us from the clay of the earth. All you have made sings of your marvellous deeds, O Lord, our maker and redeemer. Amen.

Blessed are you, Lord, God of our salvation.

You heard the agony of your people

as they cried out from their slavery,

and you gave them Moses to lead them to a land flowing with milk and honey.

Hear the cry of the enslaved and the homeless today and lead us through the turbulent sea of life

to our true home with you, O Lord, our maker and redeemer. Amen.

Blessed are you, Lord, God of our salvation.

You quench the thirst of those who yearn for righteousness and satisfy the hunger of those who crave for justice.

Lead your longing people back to peace,

that with the mountains and hills we may burst into songs of joy, O Lord, our maker and redeemer. Amen.

Blessed are you, Lord, God of our salvation.

You bring life from the darkest valley of death.

When hope is lost and our dry bones are scattered in shame, speak your word to your broken people, that we may stand confidently before you, and breathe your Spirit into us that we might live, O Lord, our maker and redeemer. Amen.


Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,

on this most holy night,

when our Lord Jesus Christ passed from death to life,

the Church invites her children throughout the world

to come together in vigil and prayer.

This is the Passover of the Lord.

We remember his death and resurrection by hearing his word

and celebrating his mysteries,

confident that we shall share his victory over death

and live with him for ever in God.

Eternal God, who made this most holy night

to shine with the brightness of your one true light:

set us aflame with the fire of your love,

and bring us to the radiance of your heavenly glory; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Christ yesterday and today,

the beginning and the end,

Alpha and Omega,

all time belongs to him,

and all ages;

to him be glory and power,

through every age and for ever. Amen.

By his holy and glorious wounds

may Christ our Lord guard and keep us. Amen.

We light a candle:

May the light of Christ, rising in glory,

banish all darkness from our hearts and minds.

The light of Christ. (Thanks be to God.)

The Exsultet

The Easter Song of Praise

Rejoice, heavenly powers! Sing, choirs of angels! O Universe, dance around God’s throne!

Jesus Christ, our King, is risen!

Sound the victorious trumpet of salvation!

Rejoice, O earth, in glory, revealing the splendour of your creation,

radiant in the brightness of your triumphant King! Christ has conquered! Now his life and glory fill you! Darkness vanishes for ever!

Rejoice, O Mother Church! Exult in glory!

The risen Saviour, our Lord of life, shines upon you! Let all God’s people sing and shout for joy.

The Lord be with you (and also with you.)

Lift up your hearts. (We lift them to the Lord.)

Let us give thanks to the Lord our God. (It is right to give thanks and praise.)

It is right and good that with hearts and minds and voices

we should praise you, Father almighty, the unseen God,

through your only Son, Jesus Christ our Lord,

who has saved us by his death,

paid the price of Adam’s sin,

and reconciled us once again to you.

For this is the Passover feast,

when Christ, the true Lamb of God, is slain

whose blood consecrates the homes of all the faithful.

This is the night when you first saved our ancestors, freeing Israel from her slavery

and leading her safely through the sea.

This is the night when Jesus Christ vanquished hell, broke the chains of death

and rose triumphant from the grave.

This is the night when all who believe in him are freed from sin,

restored to grace and holiness,

and share the victory of Christ.

This is the night that gave us back what we had lost; beyond our deepest dreams

you made even our sin a happy fault.

Most blessed of all nights!

Evil and hatred are put to flight and sin is washed away, lost innocence regained, and mourning turned to joy.

Night truly blessed, when hatred is cast out,

peace and justice find a home, and heaven is joined to earth and all creation reconciled to you. Therefore, heavenly Father, in this our Easter joy accept our sacrifice of praise, your Church’s solemn offering.

Grant that this Easter Candle may make our darkness light. For Christ the morning star has risen in glory; Christ is risen from the dead and his flame of love still burns within us! Christ sheds his peaceful light on all the world! Christ lives and reigns for ever and ever! Amen

The Easter Acclamation

Alleluia. Christ is risen!

He is risen indeed. Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia!

A joyful noise is made - bells may be rung, instruments played, or any other kind of noise.

Gloria in Excelsis

Glory to God, glory in the highest, peace to his people, peace on earth. Glory to God, glory in the highest, peace to his people, peace on earth.

Lord God, heavenly King, almighty God and Father. Glory to God, glory in the highest, peace to his people, peace on earth. We worship you, glory in the highest, give you thanks, glory in the highest, praise you for your glory.

Glory to God, glory in the highest, peace to his people, peace on earth. Lord Jesus Christ, only Son of the Father Lord God, Lamb of God, you take away the sin of the world: have mercy on us, have mercy on us; you are seated at the right hand of the Father: receive our prayer, receive our prayer.

Glory to God, glory in the highest, peace to his people, peace on earth.

Glory to God, glory in the highest, peace to his people, peace on earth.

For you alone are the Holy One, you alone are the Lord, you alone are the Most High, Jesus Christ, with the Holy Spirit, in the glory of God, the glory of God the Father.

Glory to God, glory in the highest, peace to his people, peace on earth.

Amen, amen.

The Collect

Let us pray that we may reign with the risen Christ in glory.

Silence is kept.

God of glory,

by the raising of your Son you have broken the chains of death and hell:

fill your Church with faith and hope;

for a new day has dawned and the way to life stands open in our Saviour Jesus Christ. Amen.


A reading from Paul's letter to the Romans

Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? Therefore we have been buried with him by baptism into death, so that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life.

For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we will certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his. We know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body of sin might be destroyed, and we might no longer be enslaved to sin. For whoever has died is freed from sin. But if we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. We know that Christ, being raised from the dead, will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him. The death he died, he died to sin, once for all; but the life he lives, he lives to God. So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus.

Romans 6.3-11

This is the word of the Lord. (Thanks be to God.)


Jesus Christ is risen from the dead.

He has defeated the powers of death.

Jesus turns our sorrow into dancing.

He has the words of eternal life.


Hear the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ according to Matthew.

(Glory to you, O Lord.)

After the sabbath, as the first day of the week was dawning, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to see the tomb.And suddenly there was a great earthquake; for an angel of the Lord, descending from heaven, came and rolled back the stone and sat on it.His appearance was like lightning, and his clothing white as snow.For fear of him the guards shook and became like dead men.But the angel said to the women, ‘Do not be afraid; I know that you are looking for Jesus who was crucified.He is not here; for he has been raised, as he said. Come, see the place where helay.Then go quickly and tell his disciples, “He has been raised from the dead,and indeed he is going ahead of you to Galilee; there you will see him.” This is my message for you.’So they left the tomb quickly with fear and great joy, and ran to tell his disciples.Suddenly Jesus met them and said, ‘Greetings!’ And they came to him, took hold of his feet, and worshipped him.Then Jesus said to them, ‘Do not be afraid; go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee; there they will see me.’

(Matthew 28.1-10)

This is the Gospel of the Lord. (Praise to you, O Christ.)


The Revd David Kirkwood reflects on the painting ‘Easter Morning’ by Caspar David Friedrich.:

This painting first caught my attention ten years ago when we were in Madrid visiting our son Patrick who was studying in Spain. Madrid is a city full of wonderful art much of it crowded into a golden triangle of galleries the Prado, the Reina Sofia and the Thyssen Bournmizsa. There is so much to see there, from the famous Guernica of Picasso, to the Spanish masters Velasquez and Goya and all the rich acquisitions of the monarchs of Spain’s imperial age. As befits those monarchs much of what is on show is on an eye-catchingly grand scale. Being Spain there are plenty of religious pictures too.

This painting is very different not only is it of a very modest size, about 45 by 35 cm. , but there are no bright colours or dramatic forms and nothing explicitly religious. It would be easy to hurry by and not give it another look. Despite its modesty it is a painting that once noticed wins us over by a piercing clarity that is not easily forgotten.

It’s first attraction is simply as a landscape. Perhaps it is the small size that gives a special intimacy but straightaway you feel drawn in, you feel the chill of the morning air as an almost physical sensation. With that sensation come all the associations of a fresh spring morning. Let’s take a moment just to appreciate it as a picture of the morning, any morning in spring.

But this is not just any morning. This is ‘Easter Morning’, that is the title given by the artist himself. It was probably painted around the 1820’s to 30’s a little later than the picture we looked at on Good Friday. It now hangs in the Thyssen Bournmizsa Gallery having been purchased by the art collector Baron Tyssen Bournmizsa in 1973. For a time it was owned by Wilhelm Wegener whose description from 1859 still gives an insight into the picture’s power.

“Three women [in the foreground] walk stiffly towards the cemetery very early in the morning. It is not yet light and the moon is still to be seen high up in the sky although it no longer illuminates the landscape or casts shadows. The old trees on either side of the road are putting forth new shoots and in the fields one sees the green stalks that have survived the winter. Nature is celebrating its reawakening”.

As in ‘The Cross by the Baltic’, which we looked at on Good Friday, Caspar’s skill lies in the combination of the natural imagery of landscape with symbols from Christian tradition in a way that doesn’t simply preach but allows for dialogue between them. In this picture the rebirth implicit in the cycles of nature, night and day, winter and spring, is linked to the Easter Story through the figures of the three women. Here these women are contemporary figures visiting graves as would be customary at Easter time, but they stand also for the women in the gospel who ‘on the first day of the week, at the first sign of dawn.. went to the tomb with the spices they had prepared.’ (Luke24:1)

Their dark figures seen from behind, stooped and hooded, convey a sense of sadness and grief but the path they take, and which carries us on too, speaks of firm purpose. The women are caught in a moment of stillness and anticipation as they look towards the light of the new dawn. This is Easter but this, in George Herbert’s phrase, is very much ‘Easter in Ordinary’.

Now I’m conscious here of a divergence between this and the gospel reading we have just heard. To be honest I’m always a little bit uncomfortable when we come to hear the story of the Resurrection, as we do this year, in the year of Matthew. Nothing could be further from this evangelist’s mind than ‘Easter in Ordinary’.

If this was the year of Mark, we would have heard only of a stone rolled away and a young man with a message to which the women were unable to respond but with terror and silence. If it was the year of Luke, then we would have seen two men in brilliant clothes with a message of hope for the women to share (although it seemed liked nonsense to those who heard). But in Matthew- A violent earthquake, an angel descending from heaven, rolling away the stone and sitting on it, his face like lightning, his garments white as snow, the guards collapsing in terror and then the message of hope which the women now receive with great joy, not only so but as they go to take the message Jesus Himself meets with them and they clasp his feet. Matthew piles on the wonder of it, the extraordinary, the miraculous but even as he does so, for me the story seems in danger of losing something of its mystery the un-fathomabilty of the event. It can be the same with depictions of the Resurrection, artists have struggled to convey visually an event that goes beyond the possibilities of seeing. Perhaps it is a matter of personal taste, while at their best such works leave us in awe of the mighty acts of God, at their worst they can appear unbelievable, even ridiculous.

This painting takes another route like ‘The cross by the Baltic’ it immerses us first in the reality of the natural world and allows that world to generate in us another world of feeling and emotional response. It awakens a kind of receptivity but what is it we will receive? Will the Christian symbols be upheld or overwhelmed? In the Cross by the Baltic there is deep ambiguity, the darkening sky has a bleakness that threatens to overwhelm the fading light. The cross is the sign of death and its unavoidability, any hope is muted. In the present canvas ambiguities are not done away with, the moon still holds sway, we are in the presence of mourners and in the graveyard death is still as real as the cold air we breathe, but there is a shift, somehow these ambiguities are tuned differently; the promise of spring, the dawning light , the perfectly understated recollection of that first Easter together transmit a clear message this is Easter Morning. Hope prevails. Amen.

Renewal of baptismal vows

As we celebrate the resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ from the dead, we remember that through the paschal mystery we have died and been buried with him in baptism.

In baptism, God calls us out of darkness into his marvellous light. To follow Christ means dying to sin and rising to new life with him.

Do you reject the devil and all rebellion against God?

I reject them.

Do you renounce the deceit and corruption of evil?

I renounce them.

Do you repent of the sins that separate us from God and neighbour?

I repent of them.

Do you turn to Christ as Saviour?

I turn to Christ.

Do you submit to Christ as Lord?

I submit to Christ.

Do you come to Christ, the way, the truth and the life?

I come to Christ.

May God, who has given you the desire to follow Christ, give you the strength to continue in the Way.

Profession of faith

Brothers and sisters, we profess the faith of the Church:

We believe in God, the Father almighty,

creator of heaven and earth.

We believe in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord,

who was conceived by the Holy Spirit,

born of the Virgin Mary,

suffered under Pontius Pilate,

was crucified, died, and was buried;

he descended to the dead.

On the third day he rose again;

he ascended into heaven,

he is seated at the right hand of the Father,

and he will come to judge the living and the dead.

We believe in the Holy Spirit,

the holy catholic Church,

the communion of saints,

the forgiveness of sins,

the resurrection of the body,

and the life everlasting. Amen.

Almighty God,

we thank you for our fellowship in the household of faith with all who have been baptized in your name.

Keep us faithful to our baptism,

and so make us ready for that day

when the whole creation shall be made perfect in your Son, our Saviour Jesus Christ. Amen.

May Christ dwell in our hearts through faith,

that we may be rooted and grounded in love

and bring forth the fruit of the Spirit. Amen.

Jesus Christ is ris'n today, Alleluia!
our triumphant holy day, Alleluia!
who did once upon the cross Alleluia!
suffer to redeem our loss. Alleluia!

Hymns of praise then let us sing Alleluia!
unto Christ our heav'nly King, Alleluia!
who endured the cross and grave, Alleluia!
sinners to redeem and save. Alleluia!

But the pains which he endured, Alleluia!
our salvation have procured; Alleluia!
now above the sky he's King, Alleluia!
where the angels ever sing. Alleluia!

Sing we to our God above Alleluia!
praise eternal as his love; Alleluia!
praise him, all ye heav'nly host, Alleluia!
Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. Alleluia!


Alleluia. Christ is risen.

He is risen indeed. Alleluia.

God the Father,

by whose love Christ was raised from the dead,

open to us who believe the gates of everlasting life.

God the Son,

who in bursting from the grave has won a glorious victory,

give us joy as we share the Easter faith.

God the Holy Spirit,

who filled the disciples with the life of the risen Lord,

empower us and fill us with Christ’s peace.

And the blessing of God almighty,

the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit,

be among us and remain with us always. Amen.

With the risen life of Christ within you,

go in the peace of Christ. Alleluia, alleluia.

Thanks be to God! Alleluia, alleluia!


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