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31850RE: [liturgy-l] The S. Clement's Easter Vigil

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  • Michael
    Apr 1, 2008
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      Since the Easter Vigil is the main mass of the day, why not just cancel the
      three ring circus on Easter Morning. That has been our solution.

      Shalom b'Yeshua haMoshiach,

      +Michael Joe Thannisch

      Pastor: Congregation Benim Avraham






      From: liturgy-l@yahoogroups.com [mailto:liturgy-l@yahoogroups.com] On Behalf
      Of Paul Goings
      Sent: Monday, March 31, 2008 3:24 PM
      To: liturgy-l@yahoogroups.com
      Subject: [liturgy-l] The S. Clement's Easter Vigil

      As both a parishioner of S. Clement's and a lurker on this list I
      should probably say something by way of explanation regarding the
      fairly unusual timing of our Easter Vigil.

      For what it's worth, neither Mr Conte's schedule, nor the willingness
      of parishioners to come to evening services, are a factor.

      In terms of history, like many Anglo-Catholic parishes, S. Clement's
      adopted the current Roman schedule uncritically, in our case it seems
      during the 1920's. When the reforms of Pius XII were promulgated, S.
      Clement's was one of the earliest adopters among Anglo-Catholic
      parishes in the Philadelphia area, and we had the new rites according
      to one of the traditional English translations produced at the time.
      Later came a broader period of liturgical experimentation, including
      modern language, a free-standing altar, etc. However, these changes
      were largely undone during the years from about 1978 to 1988, and we
      went back to using the English Missal and the older ceremonies. The
      Holy Week rites were generally those of the Pius XII reforms, with a
      few nods to both the forwards and backwards directions in time. Fr
      Swain found this unsatisfactory, and, upon becoming Rector, restored
      the substance of the older rites, although generally at the newer
      times. This was also the year that I arrived at S. Clement's, as it
      happens. So Maundy Thursday was (and is) celebrated at 7 p.m., and
      Good Friday at 12 noon. The Easter Vigil was also celebrated at 7
      p.m., which seems to be a common enough time these days among
      parishes that don't vary from year to year based on the actual time
      of sundown. This went on for some years, and was manageable enough,
      but still left us exhausted on Easter afternoon. With the Vigil
      ending around 10, and the next day starting with Matins and Lauds at
      7, people were getting pretty worn out.

      Since it was unlikely that we were going to embrace the modern
      paradigm, and since it would have been impossible to revert to the
      times which were common in the West from c. 800 until 1950, we
      settled on 4 p.m. as a compromise. Interestingly enough, this also
      happens to be the time at which the missal presumes that the service
      would begin, that is, after the recitation of None.

      From the point of view of modern liturgical theory this must simply
      horrify some people. However, it is (at least) my opinion that the
      much of liturgical renewal, as it pertains to the rites of Holy Week,
      has been a snare and a delusion. I fully understand, for example,
      that we're supposed to begin the Vigil after the sun has set and
      before it has risen, and then, having celebrated the Eucharist,
      continue our celebration with feasting (and a nap!), and then later
      return for Paschal Vespers. Well, it seems that we lost our communal
      nerve, as virtually every place I know still has the big three-ring
      circus service on Easter morning, and almost no one has Vespers. We
      also, in the interests of full disclosure, are currently short of
      warm bodies, so a very small group of people would have to pay the
      price for any schedule that was more "correct" in some theoretical

      This was supposed to be a mere explanation, and not really an
      argument for why we do what we do, so I hope that you will pardon any
      notes of defensiveness; they are sincerely not intended. Please feel
      free to ask any questions arising from what I've said, or to make

      Paul Goings

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