The Paschal Vesperal Liturgy of St Basil - 18/04/09

The Paschal Vigil, when we watch and wait for the Resurrection of Christ is one of the most beautiful and well-attended services of the Church's entire year, when the people of God shine with the radiance of the risen Christ.  However, what we know as the Paschal Vigil today actually replaced a more ancient vigil many centuries ago.  This "old" vigil consisted of a number of readings from the Old Testament, tracing God's work of salvation throughout the history of mankind, fulfilled in Christ's Resurrection.  The vestments and hangings would change from dark to light and it was the traditional time for the baptism of new Christians, who, after much preparation throughout Great Lent, would receive Communion for the first time at the celebration of the Divine Liturgy of the Resurrection.

This service is still done today in most Orthodox Churches but has been transferred to the late afternoon of Great and Holy Saturday, taking on the character of Vespers. It is often a quiet service, with only a handful of people present - usually those who, through infirmity, responsibility of care to the young or vulnerable, or living some distance from church, would be unable to come to the night vigil.  This is their way of joining in the liturgical celebration of the bright Resurrection of Christ.  Here are some photographs from our celebration of this Liturgy at our chapel in Birkenhead.
The plashchanitsa (burisl shroud)
The dark veil at the Royal Doors
Anthiny and Reader Michael
The plaschanitsa
Censing the plashchanitsa
The Lesser Entrance
The Epistle
The Resurrection Gospel
Some of the faithful
The light veil at the Royal Doors
Venerating the plsahchanitsa
Communion prayers