Photoessay: Backstage at the Easter Vigil

What does it take to bring the rhythms of a complex liturgy alive at St Paul’s Cathedral? On Easter, the Cathedral opened its doors to hundreds of additional worshipers to celebrate the Resurrection. The Easter Vigil is one of the biggest services of the year. This photo essay shows you a bit of what happened before the brazier was lit.

 The vergers review the order of service (the “customary”) as soon as they arrive–several hours before the service begins. Here, Chris Harris and Lisa Churchill get started.

The Rev Canon Allisyn Thomas arranges the seating:  she places  cards with the names of those to be baptized, confirmed, and received.

 Thurifers Judy MacDonald and Todd Hurrell let off a bit of steam as they prepare the coals.

Each verger has a team  of servers for their particular area of responsibility. They do a walk-through to rehearse. Here, Bill Eadie gives notes to Todd, with Carl Wolter, Judy, and Robert Heylmun looking on.

 Even the placement of the Bishop’s chair has to be precise. Lisa sits in for the Bishop while Chris positions acolytes Carl Wolter and Dan McMillan.

 The choir warms up under Canon Martin Green’s direction.

Preparations for the reception: glasses and tables are set out in the Great Hall, and volunteers including Harold Potter help get the food staged in the kitchen.

 Bob Oslie paints sterno on the kindling for the fire, which will be lit in a brazier placed on the font. Bob will keep a fire extinguisher immediately at hand as the service begins and watch for any errant sparks.

 Lisa takes one more look at the customary, making sure nothing has been missed.

Canon (now the Rev.) Brooks Mason, Head Verger,  switches off the lights. People will enter the church in near-darkness.

The service begins as the Bishop lights the fire.

If you are interested in learning more about the corps of servers, check out this “field guide” to the Processional.  If you want to learn more about joining this ministry, new members are always welcome (and needed!)  Contact The Rev. Canon Brooks Mason. 

Susan Forsburg,  blogmaster and occasional photographer

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2 thoughts on “Photoessay: Backstage at the Easter Vigil”

  1. Thank you for this special photo essay of Easter Vigil preparations; and for everyone at St. Paul's for this loving GIFT!


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