Wednesday, April 19, 2017


There was a colossal controversy in my parish for the Easter Vigil, my first one here. I told the choir director and deacon that all the lights of the darkened church should be illuminated at the third "Lumen Christi".

But the custom here has been for these to remain off until the Gloria, necessitating a flash light for the deacon to chant the Exsultet not to mention the readers needed one too.

The other colossal controversy was when to the light the laity's candles after the Easter Candle had been lighted. I recommended that it be done outside as the people processed into the church, but others stated, no, they should be in the church and their candles lighted from the Easter Candle (which would have taken all night if each one did it individually).

I noticed at the London Oratory where John Nolan frequents that the lights were not turned on at the third Lumen Christi, but remained off for the Exsultet and the readings as documented in the photos above.

But our American Roman Missal's rubrics clearly state that the lights are to come on after the third "Lumen Christi" and no mention of them being turned off again "to symbolize as one deacon taught, that we are thrown into darkness again).  The rubrics state only that the altar candles are lighted at the Gloria with the ringing of bells throughout the Gloria.

The rubrics also state that the laity's candles are lighted after they enter the Church, but this is logistically a nightmare, quite literally. 

What did you experience at your Easter Vigil, the correct way or the London Oratory's wrong way?
I ask; you answer.


Anonymous said...

At our (very) traditional Easter Vigil, the church lights remained off through all the readings and the Litany of Saints, and were only illuminated when the Gloria was intoned. Thus as it apparently was done at the London Oratory, and like the previous custom in your new parish.

John Nolan said...

Controlling (electric) lighting by flicking switches cannot be traditional in liturgical terms. The present London Oratory church was opened in 1884 and the then new-fangled electric light was installed, but it would not have affected the Vigil, which would have taken place in the morning.

When I first attended the Easter Vigil at the London Oratory in the 1970s some of the lights were put on after the Exsultet so that it was possible to follow the canticles and Collects (which of course are in Latin). Keeping the church in darkness until the Gloria is a more recent practice, and although it adds to the drama, it does present practical problems.

The fire is lit in a brazier at the back of the church and the congregation remain in their places. Passing the light from the Paschal Candle isn't a problem. Where space is at a premium one has to arrive early to get a seat, and then leaving it to join a procession would mean losing it.

I would hesitate before accusing the Oratorians of getting things wrong. No-one does the new rite better. This means interpreting the vague and non-prescriptive rubrics of the Novus Ordo in a way concomitant with the Roman Rite. One might as well go to nearby Wellington Barracks and tell the Guards that they can't do foot drill.

Anonymous said...

At the traditional Easter Vigil which I attended, lights in the nave were kept to a necessary minimum so that those who chose to follow the Exultet and readings in their missalettes could do so. Consistent with the London Oratory, the church was not fully lit until the Gloria.

To me, and based on previous posts in which the Oratory was part, it seems to be the example others should both follow and mirror.