That’s how long it took the Lutheran Church of Honolulu to celebrate its Easter Vigil last night. But even though the service started at 7:30 pm, we did not return home until 11 pm.
Yesterday afternoon, Carl was scrambling to finish the turkey lasagne dinner he prepared for the choir and participants. He was supposed to be at the church at 5 pm to rehearse with the other participants since he was the Deacon, but as it turned out, we didn’t arrive until 5:10 pm. While he went into the rehearsal, I started putting the 5 pans of lasagne into the church’s brand-new oven and doing other meal preparations such as getting out the plates, silverware, etc. Now that the church has a brand-new commercial-grade dishwasher, we never need to use paper plates or plastic forks!
The choir rehearsed in Isenberg Hall, then everyone ate Carl’s dinner of turkey lasagne, spring mixed green salad with cucumbers and tomatoes, herbed bread, and lemongrass panna cotta with strawberry orange sauce. We had to hurry to clean up Isenberg and the kitchen before the service began, but luckily, the new dishwasher only takes 6 minutes for each wash cycle, from start to finish!
The Vigil began in the courtyard, with the lighting of the new fire and then everyone followed the crucifer into the darkened nave. Carl, as deacon, sang the Exsultet, an ancient Easter proclamation, while the congregation shared the light through hand candles. We then heard seven lessons, three of which were followed by traditional canticles. Two of the canticles were sung beautifully by the women of the choir, and one by the men. I pretty much stayed to the sidelines until after the Litany. That was my cue to go over to the organ to get ready for the Easter Proclamation (“Alleluia! Christ the Lord is risen! He is risen indeed, Alleluia!”) then Glory be to God on high!
For the past 33 years, I have played an abbreviated version of Bach’s “Komm, heiliger Geist” for this moment in the service. It is the first time the organ sounds since being closed up on Maundy Thursday, and is a grand fantasia. It’s such a glorious moment with the organ going full blast, the zimbelstern twirling round, and the choir ringing handbells like crazy. When the improvisation ends, we launch right into the Gloria (Regina Fryxell’s setting from the Service Book and Hymnal). The rest of the service featured Russian choral music of Gretchaninoff, Archangelsky, and Chesnokov, with two especially beautiful solos by Keane Ishii (bass) and Chandra Peters (soprano).
We ended the service with a rousing rendition of “Jesus Christ is Risen Today” with the sopranos ending on a high B-flat on Dale Wood’s descant on the last verse. I was so eager to play my postlude (Bach’s Heut triumphiret Gottes Sohn) and pushed the button for the zimbelstern during Pastor Jeff’s very brief announcement about champagne and strawberries in the courtyard!