Home Liturgy for Holy Saturday–Vigil of Easter

There are several traditions for worship on Holy Saturday:

  • The most ancient is the Vigil of Easter in which lessons are read from the Old Testament that prefigure the redemption and resurrection. The mood of the worship is kept very somber. Then when the prophecies have been read, lights are turned up, bells are rung, the Gloria in Excelsis is sung with a festival setting, and the moment of Christ’s resurrection is celebrated. New Christians are baptized, and Holy Communion is celebrated. The Vigil of Easter is considered the first service of Easter.
  • Some traditions read the account of Jesus’ burial on Holy Saturday.
  • Some traditions focus on Jesus’ descent into hell.

This home liturgy combines the themes of Jesus burial (Gospel), Jesus’ descent into hell (1 Peter 3) and how we share in his victory through our baptism into his death and resurrection (prayers and responsory). 

Do you not know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death?
We were therefore buried with him by this baptism into his death, so that just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too would also walk in a new life.

If we have been united with him in the likeness of his death,
we will certainly also be united with him in the likeness of his resurrection.
(Romans 6:3-5)

Let us pray.

O Lord Jesus Christ,
for our sins you endured the cross and the grave,
and on the third day you rose again from the tomb.
Just as you have cleansed us from our sins by your blood,
and as we are buried with you in baptism,
so by your grace, let us share in your resurrection;
through your mercy,
O our God, you are blessed,
and live and govern all things,
now and forever.
Amen.

Reading

A reading from 1 Peter, chapter 3.

Indeed, it is better, if it is God’s will, to suffer for doing good than for doing evil, 18 because Christ also suffered once for sins in our place, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God. He was put to death in flesh but was made alive in spirit, 19 in which he also went and made an announcement to the spirits in prison. 20 These spirits disobeyed long ago, when God’s patience was waiting in the days of Noah while the ark was being built. In this ark a few, that is, eight souls, were saved by water. 21 And corresponding to that, baptism now saves you—not the removal of dirt from the body but the guarantee of a good conscience before God through the resurrection of Jesus Christ. 22 He went to heaven and is at the right hand of God, with angels, authorities, and powers made subject to him.

The Word of the Lord.
Thanks be to God.

Gospel

The holy Gospel according to St. John, the 19th chapter.

After this, Joseph of Arimathea, who was a disciple of Jesus, but secretly for fear of the Jews, asked Pilate to let him remove Jesus’ body. When Pilate gave him permission, he came and took Jesus’ body away. 39 Nicodemus, who earlier had come to Jesus at night, also came bringing a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about seventy-two pounds.  40 They took Jesus’ body and bound it with linen strips along with the spices, in accord with Jewish burial customs. 41 There was a garden at the place where Jesus was crucified. And in the garden was a new tomb in which no one had ever been laid. 42 So they laid Jesus there, because it was the Jewish Preparation Day, and the tomb was near.

The Gospel of the Lord.
Praise be to you O Christ. 

Responsory

Christ has been raised from the dead, he will never die again. Death no longer has control over him.
The death he died, he died to sin once and for all, but the life he lives, he lives to God. (Romans:6:9-10)

Christ was handed over to death because of our trespasses and was raised to life because of our justification. (Romans 4:25)
The life he lives, he lives to God. 

Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit.
The life he lives, he lives to God. 

The grace of our Lord + Jesus Christ and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.
Amen.

Christ is risen!
He is risen indeed! Alleluia!

__________

Prayer “O Lord Jesus Christ, for our sins you endured…” is from Mozarabic Collects, ed. Rev. Chas. R. Hale, New York, 1881, p. 25 #3

The responsory is based on the traditional responsory for Easter. The traditional responsory also has Alleluias:

Christ has been raised from the dead, he will never die again. Death no longer has control over him.
The life he lives, he lives to God. Alleluia! Alleluia! (Romans:6:9-10)

Christ was handed over to death because of our trespasses and was raised to life because of our justification. (Romans 4:25)
The life he lives, he lives to God. Alleluia!

Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit.
The life he lives, he lives to God. Alleluia!

For this Easter Eve home liturgy, we included only one Alleluia at the end of the rite.

Scripture is taken from The Holy Bible: Evangelical Heritage Version, http://www.wartburgproject.org.

Christian Prayer, Banner

Easter Eve

O God,
you enlightened this most holy night
with the glory of the Lord’s resurrection.
Preserve the spirit of adoption
which you have given to all your people,
so that renewed in body and soul,
we may serve you in all purity;
through your Son, Jesus Christ our Lord,
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and forever.

Source: Historic Collect for Easter Eve, Gelasian

You Were Buried so that You Would Rise from the Grave

O Lord Jesus Christ,
you were put to death
so that you would become the Author of life,
and you were buried
so that you would rise from the grave.
You set the dead free by your death,
and you abolished the penalty of sin
by your crucifixion.
With that same compassion
that moved you to suffer all for us,
hear our prayers,
and put an end to our misery
with your heavenly joy.
As we confess
that we have sinned against you in the past,
but now have returned to your mercy once again,
we pray that we may enjoy
your favor and goodness
all the days of our life;
through your mercy, O our God.

Source: Mozarabic
Source of this version: Freely modified from A Century of Collects, [38] selected and translated by Atwell M. Y. Baylay, 1913.

Original in Latin:

Domine Jesu Christe, qui vivificaturus occideris, qui resurrecturus sepeliris, dum morte mortuos solvis, dum poenam superas crucifixus : tu ad preces nostras ilia, qua totum pateris, pietate convertere, et nostris jam calamitatibus finem pone. [Sicque reddita nobis indulgentia miserere.] Ut qui adversum te gravium culparum impressione nos egisse sentimus, iterum ad te nos misericordia. parcente conversi, redeunte quietis statu, et melioribus in rerum commodis potiamur. Per misericordiam tuam, Deus noster.

Translation in traditional English from A Century of Collects:

O Lord Jesu Christ, who wast but slain that thou mightest be the Author of life, and buried that thou mightest rise from the grave; setting free the dead by thy death, and abolishing the penalty of sin by thy crucifixion: bow down thine ear to our prayers with that same compassion that moved thee to suffer all for us, and put now a full end to our misery. And whereas we acknowledge ourselves to have sinned grievously against thee in time past, yet now by thy mercy turning unto thee once again, we pray thee that we may enjoy thy favour and goodness all the days of our life. Through thy mercy, O our God.

 

Mozarabic, ad.

All Things Are Being Restored by Christ

O God of unchangeable power and eternal light,
look favorably on your whole Church,
which is a wonderful and sacred mystery.
In your eternal foreknowledge,
you peacefully do your saving work for humanity.
Let the whole world know
that things that were cast down are being raised up,
and things that had grown old are being made new,
and all things are being restored by him
in whom they have their beginning;
Jesus Christ our Lord.

Source: Gelasian, Holy Saturday, freely modified from  Ancient Collects, ed. William Bright, p. 98#2

 

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“This Is the Night!” Easter Eve Eucharistic Prayer

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The Lord be with you.
And also with you.

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

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

It is truly good and right,
with all powers of heart and mind,
and with the service of our lips,
to praise the invisible God,
the Father almighty, and his only Son
our Lord Jesus Christ,
who paid the debt of Adam for us to the eternal Father,
and erased the stain of ancient guilt
by his blood poured out in love.
For this is the Paschal festival
in which Christ, the true Lamb was slain,
and the door-posts hallowed by his blood,
by which you first brought our ancestors,
the children of Israel, out of Egypt,
and led them through the Red Sea with dry feet.
This is the night
which cleared away the darkness of sin with a pillar of light.
This is the night
which restores grace and unites believers in Christ
in holiness throughout the world,
separated from worldly vices and from the gloom of sin.
This the night
in which Christ broke the bonds of death
and ascended from the grave as a Conqueror.
Life itself would be no blessing to us
without his redemption.
O wondrous love!
To redeem your servants you gave up your Son.
This holy night,
drives off offences, washes away sins,
restores innocence to the fallen and joy to the sad.
O truly blessed night,
which spoiled the Egyptians and enriched the Hebrews —
the night in which heaven and earth are reconciled!
We pray therefore, O Lord,
that you would preserve your servants
in the peace and joy of this Easter happiness;
through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Source: Gregorian, freely modified from Ancient Collects, ed. William Bright, p. 52.2. The New Ancient Collects#159.

 

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Abide with Us

G_C_Dieffenbach

Abide with us, Lord,
for it is toward evening and the day is far spent;
abide with us, and with your whole Church.
Abide with us in the evening of the day,
in the evening of life,
in the evening of the world.
Abide with us in your grace and mercy,
in holy Word and Sacrament,
in your comfort and your blessing.
Abide with us in the night of distress and fear,
in the night of doubt and temptation,
in the night of bitter death,
when these shall overtake us.
Abide with us and with all your faithful ones,
O Lord, in time and in eternity.
Amen.

Source: Georg Christian Dieffenbach (1822-1901)

Part of this prayer is found here: The Oxford Book of Prayer, ed. Appleton, © 1985, 1992

A reflection on Luke 24:29

A version of this prayer is found in Lutheran Worship (LCMS 1982) as an alternative collect for Easter Eve.

Original in German:

Bleibe bei uns, Herr,
denn es will Abend werden,
und der Tag hat sich geneigt.
Bleibe bei uns und bei deiner ganzen Kirche.
Bleibe bei uns am Abend des Tages,
am Abend des Lebens, am Abend der Welt.
Bleibe bei uns mit deiner Gnade und Güte,
mit deinem heiligen Wort und Sakrament,
mit deinem Trost und Segen.
Bleibe bei uns,
wenn über uns kommt
die Nacht der Trübsal und Angst,
die Nacht des Zweifels und der Anfechtung,
die Nacht des bitteren Todes.
Bleibe bei uns und allen deinen Gläubigen
in Zeit und Ewigkeit.
Amen.

Source of the original German prayer: Evangelische Haus-Agende by Georg Christian Dieffenbach, 1853

* Although this prayer is often attributed to The Lutheran Manual of Prayer in many prayer books and anthologies, I have never seen or found a book with that title. A search on http://www.amazon.com and on Google Books yields several Lutheran prayer books, but none with that title.

 

Christian Prayer, Banner

An Easter Eve Prayer

O Lord Jesus Christ,
for our sins you endured the cross and the grave,
and on the third day you rose again from the tomb.
Just as you have cleansed us from our sin by your blood,
and as we are buried with you in baptism,
so by your grace, let us share in your resurrection;
through your mercy,
O our God, you are blessed,
and live and govern all things,
now and forever.
Amen.

Source: Freely modified from Mozarabic Collects, ed. Rev. Chas. R. Hale, New York, 1881, p. 25 #3

“cleansed us from our sin by your blood” is a reference to 1 Peter 1:191 John 1:7Revelation 1:5Revelation 7:14

“buried with you in baptism” is a reference to Romans 6:4Colossians 2:12

Mozarabic, ad.