The Great Fifty Days of Eastertide form a single festival period in which the tone of joy created at the EasterVigil is sustained through the following seven weeks, and the Church celebrates the gloriously risen Christ:
Triumphant in his glory now,
his sceptre ruleth all,
earth, heaven and hell before him bow,
and at his footstool fall. (Fulbert of Chartres)
Early Christians gave the name Pentecost to this whole ﬁfty-day span of rejoicing, which Tertullian calls ‘this most joyful period’ (laetissimum spatium). It is sometimes also called ‘Great Sunday’.The Easter Candle is lit at the beginning of Easter is followed and stands prominently in church for all the Eastertide services. The Alleluia appears frequently in liturgical speech and song; Choral Matins begins with the traditional collection of Pauline texts known as the Easter Anthems, and white or gold vestments and decorations emphasize the joy and brightness of the season.
On the fortieth day there has from the late fourth century been a particular celebration of Christ’s ascension. He commissions his disciples to continue his work, he promises the gift of the Holy Spirit, and then he is no longer among them in the ﬂesh. The ascension is therefore closely connected with the theme of mission. The arrival of the promised gift of the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost completes and crowns the Easter Festival.
Special Services at St John's
Easter Day begins early in the garden with Vigil readings and an outdoor celebration of the Eucharist followed by breakfast. This service rotates between St John's and our 2 Church of Scotland neighbours.
Choral Matins and The Sung Eucharist have a joyous feel to them and end with what has become a tradional congregational singing of Handel's Hallelujah chors, from Messiah. The children amongst us enjoy an easter-egg hunt in place of their usual activities.
Choral Evensong is replaced in the evning with an informal celebration of Holy Communion.
Ascension Day includes a special celebration of Holy Communion at 8.00am, outside in the Dormitory garden if the weather permits.
Pentecost Sunday usually brings the season to a close with a splash of colour!