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Concerning the Vigil

The Great Vigil, when observed, is the first service of Easter Day. It is celebrated at a convenient time between sunset on Holy Saturday and sunrise on Easter Morning.

The service normally consists of four parts: 1. The Service of Light.
2. The Service of Lessons.
3. Christian Initiation, or the Renewal of Baptismal Vows.
4. The Holy Eucharist with the administration of Easter Communion.

It is customary for all the ordained ministry present, together with lay readers, singers, and other persons, to take active parts in the service.

The bishop, when present, is the chief celebrant, presides at Baptism and administers Communion, and normally preaches the sermon.

The priests who are present share among them the reading of the Collects which follow each Lesson, and assist at Baptism and the Eucharist. In the absence of a bishop, a priest presides at the service.

It is the prerogative of a deacon to carry the Paschal Candle to its place, and to chant the Exsultet. Deacons likewise assist at Baptism and the Eucharist according to their order.

Lay persons should read the Lessons and the Epistle, and assist in other ways. A lay person may be assigned to chant the Exsultet. It is desirable that each Lesson be read by a different reader.

In the absence of a bishop or priest, a deacon or lay reader may lead the first two parts of the service, the Renewal of Baptismal Vows, and the Ministry of the Word of the Vigil Eucharist, concluding with the Prayers of the People, the Lord's Prayer, and the Dismissal.

A deacon may also, when the services of a priest cannot be obtained, and with the authorization of the bishop, officiate at public Baptism; and may administer Easter Communion from the Sacrament previously consecrated.

When the Vigil is not celebrated, the Service of Light may take place at a convenient time before the Liturgy on Easter Day.