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  • Writer's pictureFr. Guillermo A. Arboleda

Easter Sunrise Vigil 2021

The Great Vigil of Easter

Easter Day (Year B) April 4, 2021

Watch the Livestream at

Sunday, April 4, at 6:30 a.m. (or anytime afterward)


We at St. Matthew's Church in Savannah are unable to gather together in person due to the COVID-19 (novel coronavirus) pandemic. Under the guidance of the Episcopal Diocese of Georgia, the Vestry has decided to keep our church building closed for all in-person gatherings.

At 6:30 a.m. on Sunday, I will broadcast the following worship service using Facebook Live at After the service concludes, you can re-watch it at any time. This worship service is designed for for use at home while watching the live stream or reading the prayers when you cannot physically attend worship. Lay people may read the entirety of this service.

In 2021, we have made some technological and liturgical changes to our live stream, in accordance with the latest COVID-19 Safety Guidelines from the Episcopal Diocese of Georgia. All these changes are intended to simplify the production process of these worship videos and comply with those guidelines.

  1. This liturgy will be performed live on Sunday morning as you watch from home, rather than pre-filmed and edited together. In other words, you are looking at a live feed of what we are doing in the church. This means there will be fewer flourishes on the video, but it will look like actually attending church again.

  2. Due to the "live" nature of this video, there will be up to 10 people in the church on Sunday morning. In compliance with the Diocese of Georgia's COVID-19 indoor worship guidelines, we will engage in social distancing, wear masks at all times, and aim to keep the liturgy under 60 minutes.

  3. Most hymns will be shortened (typically to 3 or fewer verses) and some portions of the liturgy that may be sung will be spoken.

May God protect you from this virus and protect the most vulnerable among us. May we be God’s hands and feet of compassion and service to all in need during this time. Amen.

Yours in Christ,

Fr. Guillermo A. Arboleda

The Great Vigil of Easter

The Service of Light

The Lighting of the Paschal Candle

[BCP, p. 285]

In the darkness, fire is kindled.

Dear friends in Christ: On this most holy night, in which our Lord Jesus passed over from death to life, the Church invites her members, dispersed throughout the world, to gather in vigil and prayer. For this is the Passover of the Lord, in which, by hearing his Word and celebrating his Sacraments, we share in his victory over death.

Let us pray.

O God, through your Son you have bestowed upon your people the brightness of your light: Sanctify this new fire, and grant that in this Paschal feast we may so burn with heavenly desires, that with pure minds we may attain to the festival of everlasting light; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

The Paschal Candle is then lighted from the newly kindled fire, and the Deacon (the Celebrant if there is no deacon) bearing the Candle, leads the procession to the chancel, pausing three times and singing:

Viewers may light candles in their homes at this time.

The Exsultet

[BCP, p. 286]

Rejoice now, heavenly hosts and choirs of angels, and let your trumpets shout Salvation for the victory of our mighty King.

Rejoice and sing now, all the round earth, bright with a glorious splendor, for darkness has been vanquished by our eternal King.

Rejoice and be glad now, Mother Church, and let your holy courts, in radiant light, resound with the praises of your people.

All you who stand near this marvelous and holy flame, pray with me to God the Almighty for the grace to sing the worthy praise of this great light; through Jesus Christ his Son our Lord who lives and reigns with him, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, ...

It is truly right and good, always and everywhere, with our whole heart and mind and voice, to praise you, the invisible, almighty, and eternal God, and your only-begotten Son, Jesus Christ our Lord; for he is the true Paschal Lamb, who at the feast of the Passover paid for us the debt of Adam's sin, and by his blood delivered your faithful people.

This is the night, when you brought our fathers, the children of Israel, out of bondage in Egypt, and led them through the Red Sea on dry land.

This is the night, when all who believe in Christ are delivered from the gloom of sin, and are restored to grace and holiness of life.

This is the night, when Christ broke the bonds of death and hell, and rose victorious from the grave.

How wonderful and beyond our knowing, O God, is your mercy and loving-kindness to us, that to redeem a slave, you gave a Son.

How holy is this night, when wickedness is put to flight, and sin is washed away. It restores innocence to the fallen, and joy to those who mourn. It casts out pride and hatred, and brings peace and concord.

How blessed is this night, when earth and heaven are joined and [humanity] is reconciled to God.

Holy Father, accept our evening sacrifice, the offering of this candle in your honor. May it shine continually to drive away all darkness. May Christ, the Morning Star who knows no setting, find it ever burning--he who gives his light to all creation, ...

It is customary that the Paschal Candle burn at all services from Easter Day through the Day of Pentecost

The Service of Lessons

The Liturgy of the Word

[BCP, p. 288]

Let us hear the record of God's saving deeds in history, how he saved his people in ages past; and let us pray that our God will bring each of us to the fullness of redemption.

A Reading from the Book of Exodus (14:10-31, 20-21)

As Pharaoh drew near, the Israelites looked back, and there were the Egyptians advancing on them. In great fear the Israelites cried out to the Lord. They said to Moses, "Was it because there were no graves in Egypt that you have taken us away to die in the wilderness? What have you done to us, bringing us out of Egypt? Is this not the very thing we told you in Egypt, 'Let us alone and let us serve the Egyptians'? For it would have been better for us to serve the Egyptians than to die in the wilderness." But Moses said to the people, "Do not be afraid, stand firm, and see the deliverance that the Lord will accomplish for you today; for the Egyptians whom you see today you shall never see again. The Lord will fight for you, and you have only to keep still."

Then the Lord said to Moses, "Why do you cry out to me? Tell the Israelites to go forward. But you lift up your staff, and stretch out your hand over the sea and divide it, that the Israelites may go into the sea on dry ground. Then I will harden the hearts of the Egyptians so that they will go in after them; and so I will gain glory for myself over Pharaoh and all his army, his chariots, and his chariot drivers. And the Egyptians shall know that I am the Lord, when I have gained glory for myself over Pharaoh, his chariots, and his chariot drivers."

The angel of God who was going before the Israelite army moved and went behind them; and the pillar of cloud moved from in front of them and took its place behind them. It came between the army of Egypt and the army of Israel. And so the cloud was there with the darkness, and it lit up the night; one did not come near the other all night.

Then Moses stretched out his hand over the sea. The Lord drove the sea back by a strong east wind all night, and turned the sea into dry land; and the waters were divided. The Israelites went into the sea on dry ground, the waters forming a wall for them on their right and on their left. The Egyptians pursued, and went into the sea after them, all of Pharaoh's horses, chariots, and chariot drivers. At the morning watch the Lord in the pillar of fire and cloud looked down upon the Egyptian army, and threw the Egyptian army into panic. He clogged their chariot wheels so that they turned with difficulty. The Egyptians said, "Let us flee from the Israelites, for the Lord is fighting for them against Egypt."

Then the Lord said to Moses, "Stretch out your hand over the sea, so that the water may come back upon the Egyptians, upon their chariots and chariot drivers." So Moses stretched out his hand over the sea, and at dawn the sea returned to its normal depth. As the Egyptians fled before it, the Lord tossed the Egyptians into the sea. The waters returned and covered the chariots and the chariot drivers, the entire army of Pharaoh that had followed them into the sea; not one of them remained. But the Israelites walked on dry ground through the sea, the waters forming a wall for them on their right and on their left.

Thus the Lord saved Israel that day from the Egyptians; and Israel saw the Egyptians dead on the seashore. Israel saw the great work that the Lord did against the Egyptians. So the people feared the Lord and believed in the Lord and in his servant Moses.

Then the prophet Miriam, Aaron's sister, took a tambourine in her hand; and all the women went out after her with tambourines and with dancing. And Miriam sang to them: "Sing to the Lord, for he has triumphed gloriously; horse and rider he has thrown into the sea."

The Word of the Lord.

Thanks be to God

Hymn S-208: The Song of Moses

[BCP, p. 85]


I will sing to the Lord for he has risen up in might.

I will sing to the Lord, for he is lofty and uplifted; * the horse and its rider has he hurled into the sea. The Lord is my strength and my refuge; * the Lord has become my Savior. This is my God and I will praise him, * the God of my people and I will exalt him. The Lord is a mighty warrior; * Yahweh is his Name. The chariots of Pharaoh and his army has he hurled into the sea; * the finest of those who bear armor have been drowned in the Red Sea. The fathomless deep has overwhelmed them; * they sank into the depths like a stone. Your right hand, O Lord, is glorious in might; * your right hand, O Lord, has overthrown the enemy. Who can be compared with you, O Lord, among the gods? * who is like you, glorious in holiness, awesome in renown, and worker of wonders? You stretched forth your right hand; * the earth swallowed them up. With your constant love you led the people you redeemed; * with your might you brought them in safety to your holy dwelling. You will bring them in and plant them * on the mount of your possession, The resting-place you have made for yourself, O Lord, * the sanctuary, O Lord, that your hand has established. The Lord shall reign * for ever and for ever.


I will sing to the Lord for he has risen up in might.

Words: Exodus 15:1-6, 11-13, 17-18 (see BCP, p. 85), Public Domain.

Music: Mode 1 Antiphons, adapt. Bruce E. Ford; Plainsong tone 1, verses 1-3, 10-15; Plainsong Tonus Peregrinus, verses 4-9; adapt. Norman Mealy.

Reprinted with permission under ONE LICENSE #28310. All rights reserved.

Israel's Deliverance at the Red Sea

[BCP, p. 289]

Let us pray.

O God, whose wonderful deeds of old shine forth even to our own day, you once delivered by the power of your mighty arm your chosen people from slavery under Pharaoh, to be a sign for us of the salvation of all nations by the water of Baptism: Grant that all the peoples of the earth may be numbered among the offspring of Abraham, and rejoice in the inheritance of Israel; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

A Reading from the Book of Isaiah (55:1-11)

Ho, everyone who thirsts,

come to the waters;

and you that have no money, come, buy and eat!

Come, buy wine and milk without money and without price.

Why do you spend your money for that which is not bread, and your labor for that which does not satisfy?

Listen carefully to me, and eat what is good, and delight yourselves in rich food.

Incline your ear, and come to me; listen, so that you may live.

I will make with you an everlasting covenant, my steadfast, sure love for David.

See, I made him a witness to the peoples, a leader and commander for the peoples.

See, you shall call nations that you do not know, and nations that do not know you shall run to you,

because of the Lord your God, the Holy One of Israel, for he has glorified you.

Seek the Lord while he may be found, call upon him while he is near;

let the wicked forsake their way, and the unrighteous their thoughts;

let them return to the Lord, that he may have mercy on them, and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon.

For my thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways my ways, says the Lord.

For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.

For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return there until they have watered the earth,

making it bring forth and sprout, giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater,

so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty,

but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and succeed in the thing for which I sent it.

The Word of the Lord.

Thanks be to God.

LEV #196: Leaning On The Everlasting Arms

[Verses 1-3]

1 What a fellowship, what a joy divine,

Leaning on the everlasting arms;

What a blessedness, what a peace is mine,

Leaning on the everlasting arms.


Leaning, leaning,

safe and secure from all alarms;

Leaning, leaning,

Leaning on the everlasting arms.

2 O how sweet to walk in this pilgrim way,

Leaning on the everlasting arms;

O how bright the path grows from day to day,

Leaning on the everlasting arms. [Refrain]

3 What have I to dread, what have I to fear,

Leaning on the everlasting arms;

I have blessed peace with my Lord so near,

Leaning on the everlasting arms. [Refrain]

Words: Elisha A. Hoffman, Public Domain.

Music: Anthony J. Showalter, Public Domain; arr. Carl Haywood © 1992.

Reprinted with permission under ONE LICENSE #95070. All rights reserved.

Salvation Offered Freely to All

[BCP, p. 290]

Let us pray.

O God, you have created all things by the power of your Word, and you renew the earth by your Spirit: Give now the water of life to those who thirst for you, that they may bring forth abundant fruit in your glorious kingdom; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

A Reading from the Book of Ezekiel (36:24-28)

Say to the house of Israel, Thus says the Lord God: I will take you from the nations, and gather you from all the countries, and bring you into your own land. I will sprinkle clean water upon you, and you shall be clean from all your uncleannesses, and from all your idols I will cleanse you. A new heart I will give you, and a new spirit I will put within you; and I will remove from your body the heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. I will put my spirit within you, and make you follow my statutes and be careful to observe my ordinances. Then you shall live in the land that I gave to your ancestors; and you shall be my people, and I will be your God.

The Word of the Lord.

Thanks be to God.

Hymn #657: Love Divine, All Loves Excelling

[Verses 1-3]

1 Love divine, all loves excelling,

joy of heaven, to earth come down,

fix in us thy humble dwelling,

all thy faithful mercies crown.

Jesus, thou art all compassion,

pure, unbounded love thou art;

visit us with thy salvation,

enter every trembling heart.

2 Come, almighty to deliver,

let us all thy life receive;

suddenly return, and never,

nevermore thy temples leave.

Thee we would be always blessing,

serve thee as thy hosts above,

pray, and praise thee without ceasing,

glory in thy perfect love.

3 Finish then thy new creation;

pure and spotless let us be;

let us see thy great salvation

perfectly restored in thee:

changed from glory into glory,

till in heaven we take our place,

till we cast our crowns before thee,

lost in wonder, love, and praise.

Words: Charles Wesley, Public Domain.

Music: Hyfrydol, Rowland Hugh Prichard, Public Domain.

Reprinted with permission under ONE LICENSE #84255. All rights reserved.

A New Heart and A New Spirit

[BCP, p. 290]

Let us pray.

Almighty and everlasting God, who in the Paschal mystery established the new covenant of reconciliation: Grant that all who are reborn into the fellowship of Christ's Body may show forth in their lives what they profess by their faith; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen. Amen.

The Easter Homily by St. John Chrysostom

[Paraphrased by Fr. Guillermo A. Arboleda]

Are you devout lovers of God?

Then go ahead, enjoy this beautiful bright festival!

Are you grateful servants of the Lord?

Then rejoice and enter into the joy of your Lord!

Are you tired and hungry from fasting during Lent?

Then now come and receive your spiritual wages!

[Jesus once told a parable about a man who hired workers for his field. He hired people every few hours, so some worked all day and some worked a lot less. But the owner paid them all the same amount of money.]

So if you worked from the first hour, receive your due reward. If you came after the third hour, come and join in the Feast with gratitude! If you came after the sixth hour, do not doubt; for you won’t lose anything. If you got delayed and couldn’t make it until the ninth hour, do not hesitate; but you can come in too. And if you didn’t arrive until the last minute, do not be afraid because you were late. For the Lord is gracious and receives the last just like the first. He gives rest to whoever comes at the eleventh hour, as well as to whoever worked all day.

God has mercy on the last one, and cares for the first one; God gives to the hardworking and is gracious to the lazy. God honors the work and praises the intention.

Let us all enter into the joy of the Lord! First and last alike receive your reward; rich and poor, rejoice together! Sober and slothful, celebrate the day! You that have kept the fast, and you that have not, rejoice today for the Table is prepared with rich foods! Feast royally on the meal. [Like the father who welcomed the Prodigal Son,] we are serving the fatted calf. So don’t go away hungry. Let everyone eat this Feast of Faith. Enjoy all the riches of His goodness!

Don’t be sad at your poverty; God has revealed to us a universal kingdom, where all are welcome. Don’t mourn that you have fallen into sin again and again; Jesus rose from the grave and he brings forgiveness with him. Don’t fear death, for the Death of our Savior has set us free.

Jesus has destroyed death by enduring it. He destroyed Hell when He descended into it. He put Hell into an uproar even as it tasted of His flesh. Isaiah foretold this when he said, "You, O Hell, have been troubled by encountering Him below." Hell was in an uproar because it was done away with. It was in an uproar because it is mocked. It was in an uproar, for it is destroyed. It is in an uproar, for it is annihilated. It is in an uproar, for it is now made captive.

Hell took a body, and discovered God. It took earth, and encountered Heaven. It took what it saw, a man, and was overcome by what it did not see, the Word of God.

O death, where is your sting? O Hell, where is your victory?

Christ is Risen, and you, O Death, are annihilated! Christ is Risen, and the evil ones are cast down! Christ is Risen, and the angels rejoice! Christ is Risen, and life is liberated! Christ is Risen, and the tombs are emptied of their dead; for Christ has risen from the dead and become the first-fruits of those who have fallen asleep.

To Him be Glory and Power forever and ever. Amen!


LEV #43: Because He Lives

[Verses 1, 3]

1. God sent His son, they called Him Jesus

He came to love, heal and forgive

He lived and died to buy my pardon

An empty grave is there to prove my Savior lives.


Because He lives, I can face tomorrow

Because He lives, all fear is gone

Because I know He holds the future

And life is worth the living

Just because He lives.

3. And then one day, I’ll cross the river

I’ll fight life’s final war with pain

And then, as death gives way to vict’ry

I’ll see the lights of glory and I’ll know He lives

Words: Gloria Gaither and William Gaither © William J. Gaither

Music: William Gaither © William J. Gaither.

All rights reserved.

The Lord’s Prayer

[BCP, p. 364]

And now, as our Savior Christ has taught us, we are bold to say,

Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy Name, thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever and ever. Amen.

The Easter Blessing

[The Book of Occasional Services 2018, p. 13]

The God of peace, who brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus Christ, the great Shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant, make you perfect in every good work to do his will, working in you that which is well-pleasing in his sight; and the blessing of God Almighty, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, be among you, and remain with you always. Amen.

Parish Announcements

[See below]

The Dismissal

[BCP, p. 366]

Let us go forth in the name of Christ! Alleluia! Alleluia!

Thanks be to God! Alleluia! Alleluia!

Parish Announcements

Holy Week & Easter Schedule: Join us for worship over Facebook Live in Holy Week and Easter. Holy Week begins on March 28 with Palm Sunday and runs through April 4 wtih Easter Day. See below for highlights and click on the following link for the full schedule:

  • 6:30 AM   Sunrise Easter Vigil (Facebook)

  • 9:30 AM Easter Holy Communion (Facebook)

  • 10:30 AM - 12:00 Noon Drive-Thru Holy Communion in St. Matthew's Parking Lot (behind the church building at the corner of Burroughs St & West Anderson St)

The Parish Prayer List

Prayer List: Martha Avery, Donald Bayness, Ronald Bayness, Zavier Bradley, Myrtle Brow-Hollis, Jacquelyn Bryant, Christine Brown, Genella Chamberlain, Taylor Blue Clemons, Annie Colbert, Ana Columna, Lazola Cope, Alice Dailey, Beryl Dandy, Mark Dashiell, Brittany Dawson, Roland Dixon, Eduardo Espinosa, Imani Ferguson, Ruby Fernandez, Harry Frazier, Colin Gentle, Yvonne Gentle, Charles Gordon, Amanda Green, Jocelyn Bryant Harden, Loretta Harmond, Marva Harris, Enoch Henderson, Charles E. Hines, Kenneth Howard, Terri Howard, Dale Hundley, Jared Hundley, Tracy Hundley, Milinda James, Alvin Jenkins, Dana Jenkins, David Jones, Frances T. Jones, Lori Jones, Robert L. Jones, Sr., Whitney Kennedy, Leonard Law, Jr., Ralph Lovett, Ryan Lovett, Tammie Lovett, Marcus Marzen, Joan Maty, Craig Maxwell, Sada Maxwell, Altheria Maynard, Carmelita Maynard, Barbara McCary, Bette Milledge, Hollie Moultrie, Patricia Murry, Russell Nails, Dorothy Neal, Jabbaar Newton, Jameel Newton, Glenzy Payne, Robert Payne, Willie Mae Robinson, Paul Rockwell, Dison Washington Slaughter, James Small, Gwendolyn Smith, Courtney Watts Vista, Ed Vista, Willie Stephens, Lori Ward, Gertrude Washington, and Noel Wheeler

Birthdays: Charlotte Blue (4/6), Duane Johnson (4/7), and Renitra Baker (4/9)

Wedding Anniversaries: Jonathan & Jackie Newton (4/6) and Charles & Joenelle Gordon (4/12)

Recent Deaths: Raleigh Bryant (12/18/20)

May the souls of all the departed rest in peace; and may light perpetual shine upon them. Amen.

Note: This service is reproduced from The Book of Common Prayer 1979 (BCP), The Hymnal 1982 (Hymn), Lift Every Voice and Sing II: An African American Hymnal (LEV), and other sources cited. The Scripture readings are from the New Revised Standard Version (NRSV) of the Bible.

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