The following may be used at the beginning of an Easter Vigil service. It may also be further
adapted for other occasions of Easter worship.
The Lord be with you.
And also with you.
Sisters and brothers in Jesus Christ,
on this most holy night
when Jesus, our Lord, passed from death to life,
we gather, united with the church throughout the world,
to rehearse again all that God has promised
and to celebrate how all those promises are “Yes” in Jesus Christ, our Lord.
This is the Passover of Jesus Christ.
As people of this Passover,
we tell the whole story of God’s covenanting love.
We celebrate that by God’s grace this story is our story:
that God has grafted us into his Easter people,
helping us to share in Christ’s triumph over sin and death.
On this Passover night, we declare with joy:
“In the beginning was the Word,
and the Word was with God,
and the Word was God.
In him was life,
and the life was the light of all people.
The light shines in the darkness,
and the darkness has not overcome it.”
—based on John 1:1, 4-5
[The Worship Sourcebook]
Worship Sourcebook Edition Two
On this mountain the Lord of hosts will make for all peoples
a feast of rich food, a feast of well-aged wines,
of rich food filled with marrow, of well-aged wines strained clear.
And he will destroy on this mountain
the shroud that is cast over all peoples,
the sheet that is spread over all nations;
he will swallow up death forever.
Then the Lord God will wipe away the tears from all faces,
and the disgrace of his people he will take away from all the earth,
for the Lord has spoken.
It will be said on that day,
Lo, this is our God;
we have waited for him, so that he might save us.
This is the Lord for whom we have waited;
let us be glad and rejoice in his salvation.
—Isaiah 25:6-9, NRSV
Worship Sourcebook Edition Two
Now to him who by the power at work within us
is able to accomplish abundantly far more
than all we can ask or imagine,
to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus
to all generations, forever and ever. Amen.
—Ephesians 3:20-21, NRSV
Worship Sourcebook Edition Two
O God of our salvation, through Jesus Christ you bring freedom,
fulfilling every promise you made to our ancestors in the faith.
So nourish us at your table with the bread of life and the cup of salvation,
that we may endure our wilderness journeys and come at last to your eternal feast. Amen.
Psalm 105 is one of the psalms included in the Easter Vigil service. The use of the tune GAUDEAMUS PARITER/VIRGO VIRGINUM is intentional as it brings to mind the Easter hymn “Come, Ye Faithful, Raise the Strain of Triumphant Gladness.” Michael Morgan casts the psalm text in the light of resurrection. For congregations who associate the Easter hymn with another tune (e.g., ST. KEVIN), consider using that for the singing of this text.
The text is a setting of Psalm 105, written at the request of Martin Tel and John Witvliet when preparing Psalms for All Seasons (Faith Alive Christian Resources, 2012), in an attempt to include Easter and the celebration of the resurrection of Jesus and our own redemption in the Old Testament Psalm. Using John of Damascus and his interpretation of the Exodus imagery, complete with “alleluias for the Lord who bursts the bars of prisons and yokes of oppression”—not a line-by-line versification of the Psalm, but a paraphrase that gets at its essence.
The suggested tune is the Easter hymn, ST. KEVIN, which with great joy celebrates redemption and resurrection. The repeated lines with their “alleluias” reminds us continually of God’s gift of salvation achieved on Easter morning, ending with the powerful affirmation, “Life, behold the glorious sight; death, your reign is ended.”
Michael Morgan (b. 1948) is a church musician, Psalm scholar, and collector of English Bibles and Psalters from Atlanta, Georgia. After almost 40 years, he now serves as Organist Emeritus for Atlanta’s historic Central Presbyterian Church, and as Seminary Musician at Columbia Theological Seminary. He holds degrees from Florida State University and Atlanta University, and did post-graduate study with composer Richard Purvis in San Francisco. He has played recitals, worship services, and master classes across the U. S., and in England, France, Spain, Switzerland, and Germany. He is author of the Psalter for Christian Worship (1999; rev. 2010), and a regular contributor in the field of psalmody (most recently to the Reformed collections Psalms for All Seasons and Lift Up Your Hearts, and the new Presbyterian hymnal, Glory to God).
Arthur Seymour Sullivan (b. Lambeth, London, England. 1842; d. Westminster, London, 1900) was born of an Italian mother and an Irish father who was an army bandmaster and a professor of music. Sullivan entered the Chapel Royal as a chorister in 1854. He was elected as the first Mendelssohn scholar in 1856, when he began his studies at the Royal Academy of Music in London. He also studied at the Leipzig Conservatory (1858-1861) and in 1866 was appointed professor of composition at the Royal Academy of Music. Early in his career Sullivan composed oratorios and music for some Shakespeare plays. However, he is best known for writing the music for lyrics by William S. Gilbert, which produced popular operettas such as H.M.S. Pinafore (1878), The Pirates of Penzance (1879), The Mikado (1884), and Yeomen of the Guard (1888). These operettas satirized the court and everyday life in Victorian times. Although he composed some anthems, in the area of church music Sullivan is best remembered for his hymn tunes, written between 1867 and 1874 and published in The Hymnary (1872) and Church Hymns (1874), both of which he edited. He contributed hymns to A Hymnal Chiefly from The Book of Praise (1867) and to the Presbyterian collection Psalms and Hymns for Divine Worship (1867). A complete collection of his hymns and arrangements was published posthumously as Hymn Tunes by Arthur Sullivan (1902). Sullivan steadfastly refused to grant permission to those who wished to make hymn tunes from the popular melodies in his operettas.