On this Holy Saturday we keep vigil with the whole church. Here in the dark before the tomb we hear the church’s ancient song: the Exsultet. Sung before a single candle — the Paschal candle, lit from a new fire in the night — the Exsultet summons even the hosts of heaven to rejoice. “Rejoice, heavenly powers! Sing, choirs of angels!” For we await a mystery: “Night truly blessed, when heaven is wedded to earth and we are reconciled to God.”

Let us hear now the song of the church, and recall the story of our salvation.

The Exsultet

The Liturgy of the Word

Leader: Dear friends in Christ, let us listen attentively to the word of God, recalling how he saved his people throughout history, and in the fullness of time, sent his own Son to be our Redeemer.

First Reading: Genesis 1:1-2:2

Almighty and Eternal God, you created all things in wonderful beauty and order. Help us now to perceive how still more wonderful is the new creation, by which in the fullness of time you redeemed your people through the sacrifice of our Passover, Jesus Christ, who lives and reigns for ever and ever.

Second Reading: Genesis 22:1-18

God and Father of all who believe in you, you promised Abraham that he would become the father of many nations. Through the death and resurrection of Christ you fulfill that promise; everywhere throughout the world you increase your chosen people. May we respond to your call by joyfully accepting your invitation to the new life of grace. Grant this through Christ our Lord.

Third Reading: Exodus 14:10-15:1

God of steadfast love, your wonderful deeds of old shine forth even to our own day. By the power of your mighty arm you once delivered your chosen people from slavery under Pharoah, to be a sign for us of the salvation of all nations by the water of baptism. Grant that all peoples of the earth may be numbered among the offspring of Abraham and rejoice in the inheritance of Israel. We ask this through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Fourth Reading: Ezekiel 37:1-14

Living God, by the Passover of your Son you have brought us out of sin into righteousness, and out of death into life. Grant to those who are sealed by your Holy Spirit the will and power to proclaim you to all the world, through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Concluding Prayer

O God of unchangeable power and eternal light, look favourably on your whole Church, that wonderful and sacred mystery. By the effectual working of your providence, carry out in tranquillity the plan of salvation. Let the whole world see and know that things which were cast down are being raised up, and things which had grown old are being made new, and that all things are being brought to their perfection by him through whom all things were made, your Son Jesus Christ our Lord.

Catherine Sider Hamilton

Catherine Sider Hamilton

Catherine Sider Hamilton is Priest-in-Charge of St. Matthew's Riverdale, and Professor of New Testament and New Testament Greek (part-time) at Wycliffe College. She has served also as Chaplain at Havergal College and Associate Priest at Grace Church on-the-Hill and St. John the Baptist, Norway (Toronto). She enjoys singing around the piano with her kids, her husband's Indian food, all things Italian -- and above all her two little grandchildren. Catherine and David live in Greektown. She blogs occasionally on feasts and fasts at feastfastferia.wordpress.com.