This is the night, when Christ broke the bonds of death and hell, and rose victorious from the grave.
How blessed is this night, when earth and heaven are joined and we are reconciled to God.
The Great Vigil of Easter is the very heart of the Christian year, the mother of all our celebrations. In the irony that defines the resurrection, we celebrate it after the sun goes down. We celebrate the coming of the light in the darkness. And we learn that what St. John says is true, "The light shines in the darkness and the darkness cannot overcome it."
The Great Vigil, which begins at 8 pm, has four parts:
Here's a portion of 17th century Anglican priest and poet George Herbert's poem Easter.
Rise heart; thy Lord is risen. Sing his praise
Who takes thee by the hand, that thou likewise
With him mayst rise:
That, as death calcined thee to dust,
His life may make thee gold, and much more just.
Awake, my lute, and struggle for thy part
With all thy art.
The cross taught all wood to resound his name,
Who bore the same.
His stretched sinews taught all strings, what key
Is best to celebrate this most high day.
Consort both heart and lute, and twist a song
Pleasant and long:
Or since all music is but three parts vied
O let thy blest Spirit bear a part,
And make up our defects with his sweet art.
Ralph Vaughan Williams set this poem to music, one of his Five Mystical Songs.