Violet and White
Traditional day of fast and abstinence (until the conclusion of the Vigil)
The blessing of meals today is: Principes sacerdotum et pharisaei munierunt sepulcrum, signantes lapidem, cum custodibus. (Cf. reliqua in Benedictio Mensae, in either the Rituale Romanum or in the appendix of the Breviary)
The Paschal Vigil should take place so that the Mass itself (the second half of the Vigil) begins at midnight, but the Vigil may take place for pastoral necessity as early as sundown, per the rubrics. If the Vigil is thus anticipated, it does not fulfill the Sunday obligation, and the faithful will plan to attend Mass also the next morning, at which time they may receive Holy Communion again. Ordinarily they may receive at either the Vigil or the morning Mass, but not both.
The rubrics of the entire ceremony are given in the Missal. The bells and the organ continue to be silent until the Gloria. A clapper is used in place of the bells up to that point.
The tabernacle is empty at the start of the ceremony. It is necessary to prepare ciboria so that enough hosts may be consecrated to suffice for the distribution of Holy Communion at the Vigil.
The six principal elements of the Paschal Vigil are:
1. The New Fire
2. The Paschal Candle Blessing
3. The Exultet (Praeconium Paschale)
4. The Lessons, or Prophecies
5. The Consecration of the Baptismal Font
6. The Mass
For the blessing of the fire, it must be a new fire; therefore it cannot be lighted from another flame, but must be kindled with a spark from striking flint. This is the mechanism used in standard lighters, but not matches. The fire should be kindled at least fifteen minutes before the ceremony. Thurible coals should be placed at the edge of the fire shortly before the ceremony, and placed in the thurible (with tongs) when the procession arrives at the fire. The Easter fire should be maintained throughout the year in the sanctuary lamp, and can be used to light the altar candles through the year as well.
After the Paschal candle is blessed, the celebrant changes from violet cope into a white dalmatic and stole for the Lumen Christi procession and the Exultet, after which he changes back into the violet cope. (In the solemn ceremonies, the latter is sung by the deacon in white dalmatic.) The Exultet is preceded by a proper “Dominus sit”: Iube, Domine, benedicere. – Dominus sit in corde meo et in labiis meis: ut digne et competenter annuntiem suum paschale praeconium. Amen.
The four lessons are sung in tono prophetiae. The celebrant sits while the choir sings the intercalary canticles.
The Consecration of the Baptismal Font takes place according to the rubrics. It is preceded by the first half of the Litany of the Saints and concluded by the second half. The lustral water is drawn out for the stoups and for the aspersion of the faithful before the Holy Oils are infused.
After the Font has been consecrated, the aspersion has been done, the water is in its place, and the altar has been decorated with the best liturgical ware, the Mass begins.
There are some particular rubrics in the Paschal Vigil Mass:
The rubrics direct that the prayers at the foot of the altar be omitted. After the incensation of the altar, the celebrant does not say an Introit (there is none), but after reciting the Kyrie eleison at the Epistle corner (sung by the choir), he intones the Gloria at the center of the altar.
The organ may play again starting with the Gloria. Bells are also rung at the Gloria; servers may ring all the sets of altar bells in unison, while the tower bells also peal. During this time, the violet veils on the sacred images in the church are removed.
After the Epistle (in tono lectionis), the Alleluia is solemnly intoned, alternately by celebrant and choir. At the Gospel, candles are not carried, but only incense.
The Credo is not said, and there is no Offertory antiphon.
The Paschal preface is used, with in hac potissimum nocte.
The Communicantes and Hanc igitur are proper from the Vigil until the Saturday within the Octave (sabbato in albis), inclusive.
The Pax is not given, and the Agnus Dei is omitted, along with the first of the celebrant’s three Communion prayers.
After Holy Communion has been distributed, there is no Communion antiphon, but rather the chant «pro laudibus» is sung. The altar is incensed at the Benedictus, as well as the ministers, servers, and faithful as usual.
The Postcommunion is chanted, then Ite missa est, alleluia, alleluia (R. Deo gratias, alleluia, alleluia), which continues for the Octave. The blessing is given and the Last Gospel is omitted.
After the ceremony, the ciboria containing the Blessed Sacrament which were reserved separately prior to the Vigil are returned to the main tabernacle.
The lustral water (poured off from the font before the infusion of holy oils) is used in the church stoups during the octave but is not used in the church at all after Sabbato in albis. It is used for the blessing of homes, however, during the whole of Eastertide.
The Office is all proper. The Gloria Patri is omitted after the psalms. The hours contain the concluding antiphon Christus factus est pro nobis obediens usque ad mortem, mortem autem crucis: propter quod et Deus exaltavit illum, et dedit illi nomen, quod est super omne nomen. Compline is not said by those who attend the Easter Vigil, and the same applies to Matins and Lauds of Easter Sunday.
Tenebrae: Matins and Lauds are chanted together, with the extinguishing of the candles on the fifteen-candle hearse, per the rubrics.
Matins: No invitatorium or hymn. It begins absolutely with the first antiphon and contains 3 nocturns. If separated from Lauds, add oration Respice quaesumus Domine. No Te Deum.
Lauds: All proper as indicated in the breviary.
Prime: All proper as indicated in the breviary; the martyrology and chapter portion are omitted.
Hours: All proper as indicated in the breviary.
Vespers: Vespers are not replaced by the Easter Vigil. All proper as indicated in the breviary.
Compline: Compline is not said by those who attend the Easter Vigil. Otherwise: All proper as indicated in the breviary. The beginning and end are abbreviated.