The Vigil of Pentecost

Adapted from the 1979 Book of Common Prayer, p. 896, using the standard form of the Episcopal Vigil Service.

The church is dark, or partially so, when the service is to begin.

All stand, and the Officiant greets the people with these words.

V. Alleluia. Christ is risen.
R. The Lord is risen indeed. Alleluia.

It is not ourselves that we proclaim; we proclaim Christ Jesus as Lord, and ourselves as your servants, for Jesus' sake.
For the same God who said, "Out of darkness let light shine," has caused his light to shine within us, to give the light of
revelation--the revelation of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. 2 Corinthians 4:5-6

Eternal God, who led your ancient people into freedom by a pillar of cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night: Grant that
we who walk in the light of your presence may rejoice in the liberty of the children of God; through Jesus Christ our Lord.

The candles at the Altar are now lighted, as are other candles and lamps as may be convenient.

During the candle-lighting, the following or some other appropriate anthem or psalm may be sung, or silence kept.

The Spirit of the Lord now fills the whole world,*
alleluia, alleluia.
The Spirit of the Lord now fills the whole world,*
alleluia, alleluia.
The Spirit who searches even the depths of God:
Alleluia, alleluia.
Glory to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit.
The Spirit of the Lord now fills the whole world,*
alleluia, alleluia.

The following canticle, or a metrical version of it, or some other hymn, is then sung:

Glory to God in the highest,
and peace to his people on earth.

Lord God, heavenly King,
almighty God and Father,
we worship you, we give you thanks,
we praise you for your glory.

Lord Jesus Christ, only Son of the Father,
Lord God, Lamb of God,
you take away the sin of the world:
have mercy on us;
you are seated at the right hand of the Father:
receive our prayer.

For you alone are the Holy One,
you alone are the Lord,
you alone are the Most High,
Jesus Christ,
with the Holy Spirit,
in the glory of God the Father. Amen.

V. The apostles spoke in other tongues, alleluia.
R. The wonderful works of God, alleluia.

All are seated


Genesis 11:1-9

Now the whole earth had one language and the same words. And as they migrated from the east, they came upon a plain in the land of Shinar and settled there. And they said to one another, ‘Come, let us make bricks, and burn them thoroughly.’ And they had brick for stone, and bitumen for mortar. Then they said, ‘Come, let us build ourselves a city, and a tower with its top in the heavens, and let us make a name for ourselves; otherwise we shall be scattered abroad upon the face of the whole earth.’ The Lord came down to see the city and the tower, which mortals had built. And the Lord said, ‘Look, they are one people, and they have all one language; and this is only the beginning of what they will do; nothing that they propose to do will now be impossible for them. Come, let us go down, and confuse their language there, so that they will not understand one another’s speech.’ So the Lord scattered them abroad from there over the face of all the earth, and they left off building the city. Therefore it was called Babel, because there the Lord confused the language of all the earth; and from there the Lord scattered them abroad over the face of all the earth.

    Psalm 33:12-22    Exultate, justi
Happy is the nation whose God is the LORD! *
     happy the people he has chosen to be his own!
The LORD looks down from heaven, *
     and beholds all the people in the world.
From where he sits enthroned he turns his gaze *
     on all who dwell on the earth.
He fashions all the hearts of them *
     and understands all their works.
There is no king that can be saved by a mighty army; *
     a strong man is not delivered by his great strength.
The horse is a vain hope for deliverance; *
     for all its strength it cannot save.
Behold, the eye of the LORD is upon those who fear him, *
     on those who wait upon his love,
To pluck their lives from death, *
     and to feed them in time of famine.
Our soul waits for the LORD; *
     he is our help and our shield.
Indeed, our heart rejoices in him, *
     for in his holy Name we put our trust.
Let your loving-kindness, O LORD, be upon us, *
     as we have put our trust in you.

Almighty God, on this day you opened the way of eternal life to every race and nation by the promised gift of your Holy Spirit: Shed abroad this gift throughout the world by the preaching of the Gospel, that it may reach to the ends of the earth; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Exodus 19:1-9, 16-20a; 20:18-20

At the third new moon after the Israelites had gone out of the land of Egypt, on that very day, they came into the wilderness of Sinai. They had journeyed from Rephidim, entered the wilderness of Sinai, and camped in the wilderness; Israel camped there in front of the mountain. Then Moses went up to God; the Lord called to him from the mountain, saying, ‘Thus you shall say to the house of Jacob, and tell the Israelites: You have seen what I did to the Egyptians, and how I bore you on eagles’ wings and brought you to myself. Now therefore, if you obey my voice and keep my covenant, you shall be my treasured possession out of all the peoples. Indeed, the whole earth is mine, but you shall be for me a priestly kingdom and a holy nation. These are the words that you shall speak to the Israelites.’

So Moses came, summoned the elders of the people, and set before them all these words that the Lord had commanded him. The people all answered as one: ‘Everything that the Lord has spoken we will do.’ Moses reported the words of the people to the Lord. Then the Lord said to Moses, ‘I am going to come to you in a dense cloud, in order that the people may hear when I speak with you and so trust you ever after.’

On the morning of the third day there was thunder and lightning, as well as a thick cloud on the mountain, and a blast of a trumpet so loud that all the people who were in the camp trembled. Moses brought the people out of the camp to meet God. They took their stand at the foot of the mountain. Now Mount Sinai was wrapped in smoke, because the Lord had descended upon it in fire; the smoke went up like the smoke of a kiln, while the whole mountain shook violently. As the blast of the trumpet grew louder and louder, Moses would speak and God would answer him in thunder. When the Lord descended upon Mount Sinai, to the top of the mountain, the Lord summoned Moses to the top of the mountain, and Moses went up.

When all the people witnessed the thunder and lightning, the sound of the trumpet, and the mountain smoking, they were afraid and trembled and stood at a distance, and said to Moses, ‘You speak to us, and we will listen; but do not let God speak to us, or we will die.’ Moses said to the people, ‘Do not be afraid; for God has come only to test you and to put the fear of him upon you so that you do not sin.’

Song of the Three Young Men
Benedictus es, Domine

Glory to you, Lord God of our fathers; *
 you are worthy of praise; glory to you.
Glory to you for the radiance of your holy Name; *
 we will praise you and highly exalt you for ever.
Glory to you in the splendor of your temple; *
 on the throne of your majesty, glory to you.
Glory to you, seated between the Cherubim; *
 we will praise you and highly exalt you for ever.
Glory to you, beholding the depths; *
 in the high vault of heaven, glory to you.
Glory to you, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit; *
 we will praise you and highly exalt you for ever.

O God, who on this day taught the hearts of your faithful people by sending to them the light of your Holy Spirit: Grant us by the same Spirit to have a right judgment in all things, and evermore to rejoice in his holy comfort; through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord, who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Ezekiel 37:1-14

The hand of the LORD came upon me, and he brought me out by the spirit of the LORD and set me down in the middle of a valley; it was full of bones. He led me all round them; there were very many lying in the valley, and they were very dry. He said to me, ‘Son of Man, can these bones live?’ I answered, ‘O Lord GOD, you know.’ Then he said to me, ‘Prophesy to these bones, and say to them: O dry bones, hear the word of the LORD. Thus says the Lord GOD to these bones: I will cause breath to enter you, and you shall live. I will lay sinews on you, and will cause flesh to come upon you, and cover you with skin, and put breath in you, and you shall live; and you shall know that I am the LORD.’

 So I prophesied as I had been commanded; and as I prophesied, suddenly there was a noise, a rattling, and the bones came together, bone to its bone. I looked, and there were sinews on them, and flesh had come upon them, and skin had covered them; but there was no breath in them. Then he said to me, ‘Prophesy to the breath, prophesy, mortal, and say to the breath: Thus says the Lord GOD: Come from the four winds, O breath, and breathe upon these slain, that they may live.’ I prophesied as he commanded me, and the breath came into them, and they lived, and stood on their feet, a vast multitude.

 Then he said to me, ‘Son of Man, these bones are the whole house of Israel. They say, “Our bones are dried up, and our hope is lost; we are cut off completely.” Therefore prophesy, and say to them, Thus says the Lord GOD: I am going to open your graves, and bring you up from your graves, O my people; and I will bring you back to the land of Israel. And you shall know that I am the LORD, when I open your graves, and bring you up from your graves, O my people. I will put my spirit within you, and you shall live, and I will place you on your own soil; then you shall know that I, the LORD, have spoken and will act, says the LORD.’

    Psalm 130    
    De profundis
Out of the depths have I called to you, O LORD;
LORD, hear my voice; *
     let your ears consider well the voice of my supplication.
If you, LORD, were to note what is done amiss, *
     O LORD, who could stand?
For there is forgiveness with you; *
     therefore you shall be feared.
I wait for the LORD; my soul waits for him; *
     in his word is my hope.
My soul waits for the LORD,
     more than watchmen for the morning, *
     more than watchmen for the morning.
O Israel, wait for the LORD, *
     for with the LORD there is mercy;
With him there is plenteous redemption, *
     and he shall redeem Israel from all their sins.

God our Father, let the Spirit you sent on your Church to begin the teaching of the gospel continue to work in the world through the hearts of all who believe. We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Joel 2:28-32

Then afterwards

   I will pour out my spirit on all flesh;
your sons and your daughters shall prophesy,
   your old men shall dream dreams,
   and your young men shall see visions.
Even on the male and female slaves,
   in those days, I will pour out my spirit.

 I will show portents in the heavens and on the earth, blood and fire and columns of smoke. The sun shall be turned to darkness, and the moon to blood, before the great and terrible day of the Lord comes. Then everyone who calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved; for in Mount Zion and in Jerusalem there shall be those who escape, as the Lord has said, and among the survivors shall be those whom the Lord calls.

The First Song of Isaiah Ecce Deus

Isaiah 12:2-6

Surely, it is God who saves me; *
I will trust in him and not be afraid.

For the Lord is my stronghold and my sure defense, *
and he will be my Savior.

Therefore you shall draw water with rejoicing *
from the springs of salvation.

And on that day you shall say, *
Give thanks to the Lord and call upon his Name;

Make his deeds known among the peoples; *
see that they remember that his Name is exalted.

Sing praises of the Lord, for he has done great things, *
and this is known in all the world.

Cry aloud, inhabitants of Zion, ring out your joy, *
for the great one in the midst of you is the Holy One of Israel.

Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit: *
as it was in the beginning, is now, and will be for ever. Amen.

Father of light, from whom every good gift comes, send your Spirit into our lives with the power of a mighty wind, and by the flame of your wisdom open the horizons of our minds. Loosen our tongues to sing your praise in words beyond the power of speech, for without your Spirit man could never raise his voice in words of peace or announce the truth that Jesus is Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.

Romans 8:14-17, 22-27
For all who are led by the Spirit of God are children of God. For you did not receive a spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received a spirit of adoption. When we cry, ‘Abba! Father!’ it is that very Spirit bearing witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs, heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ—if, in fact, we suffer with him so that we may also be glorified with him. We know that the whole creation has been groaning in labour pains until now; and not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the first fruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly while we wait for adoption, the redemption of our bodies. For in hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what is seen? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience. Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but that very Spirit intercedes with sighs too deep for words. And God, who searches the heart, knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.

Psalm 104:25-32

O LORD, how manifold are your works! *
     in wisdom you have made them all;
     the earth is full of your creatures.
Yonder is the great and wide sea
with its living things too many to number, *
     creatures both small and great.
There move the ships,
and there is that Leviathan, *
     which you have made for the sport of it.
All of them look to you *
     to give them their food in due season.
You give it to them; they gather it; *
     you open your hand, and they are filled with good things.
You hide your face, and they are terrified; *
     you take away their breath,
     and they die and return to their dust.
You send forth your Spirit, and they are created; *
     and so you renew the face of the earth.
May the glory of the LORD endure for ever; *
     may the LORD rejoice in all his works.

Almighty and ever-living God, by your will the celebration of Easter is summed up in the mystery of Pentecost. Grant that the peoples you have scattered across the earth, speaking many tongues, may unite in proclaiming your greatness and be gathered back together by the gift of your holy name. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, God for ever and ever.

John 7:37-39a

On the last day of the festival, the great day, while Jesus was standing there, he cried out, ‘Let anyone who is thirsty come to me, and let the one who believes in me drink. As the scripture has said, “Out of the believer’s heart shall flow rivers of living water.” ’ Now he said this about the Spirit, which believers in him were to receive.

Since you are all children of God through your faith in Christ Jesus,
 - God has sent into your hearts the Spirit of his Son,
   crying out: Abba, Father, alleluia.
The Lord has not given us a timid spirit, but a spirit of strength, of love and of self-control.
 - God has sent into your hearts the Spirit of his Son,
   crying out: Abba, Father, alleluia.

If there is no sermon, the following may be read:

From the treatise Against Heresies by Saint Irenaeus, bishop
(Lib. 3, 17. 1-3: SC 34, 302-306)

The sending of the Holy Spirit

When the Lord told his disciples to go and teach all nations and to baptize them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, he conferred on them the power of giving men new life in God. He had promised through the prophets that in these last days he would pour out his Spirit on his servants and handmaids, and that they would prophesy. So when the Son of God became the Son of Man, the Spirit also descended upon him, becoming accustomed in this way to dwelling with the human race, to living in men and to inhabiting God’s creation. The Spirit accomplished the Father’s will in men who had grown old in sin, and gave them new life in Christ. 

Luke says that the Spirit came down on the disciples at Pentecost, after the Lord’s ascension, with power to open the gates of life to all nations and to make known to them the new covenant. So it was that men of every language joined in singing one song of praise to God, and scattered tribes, restored to unity by the Spirit, were offered to the Father as the first fruits of all the nations. 

This was why the Lord had promised to send the Advocate: he was to prepare us as an offering to God. Like dry flour, which cannot become one lump of dough, one loaf of bread, without moisture, we who are many could not become one in Christ Jesus without the water that comes down from heaven. And like parched ground, which yields no harvest unless it receives moisture, we who were once like a waterless tree could never have lived and borne fruit without this abundant rainfall from above. Through the baptism that liberates us from change and decay we have become one in body; through the Spirit we have become one in soul. 

The Spirit of wisdom and understanding, the Spirit of counsel and strength, the Spirit of knowledge and the fear of God came down upon the Lord, and the Lord in turn gave this Spirit to his Church, sending the Advocate from heaven into all the world into which, according to his own words, the devil too had been cast down like lightning. If we are not to be scorched and made unfruitful, we need the dew of God. Since we have our accuser, we need an Advocate as well. And so the Lord in his pity for man, who had fallen into the hands of brigands, having himself bound up his wounds and left for his care two coins bearing the royal image, entrusted him to the Holy Spirit. Now, through the Spirit, the image and inscription of the Father and the Son have been given to us, and it is our duty to use the coin committed to our charge and make it yield a rich profit for the Lord.

On the day of Pentecost they had all gathered together in one place.
 - Out of the heavens suddenly there came the sound of a great wind,
   which filled the whole house, alleluia.
The disciples had gathered together in one room. Suddenly there came a sound from heaven.
 - Out of the heavens suddenly there came the sound of a great wind,
   which filled the whole house, alleluia.

Holy Baptism or Confirmation (beginning with the Presentation of the Candidates), or the Renewal of Baptismal Vows, Prayer Book page 292, follows the Sermon.

The Renewal of Baptismal Vows

Celebrant   Do you reaffirm your renunciation of evil and
                renew your commitment to Jesus Christ?
People      I do.

Celebrant   Do you believe in God the Father?
People      I believe in God, the Father almighty,
                   creator of heaven and earth.

Celebrant   Do you believe in Jesus Christ, the Son of God?
People      I believe in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord.
                  He was conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit
                     and born of the Virgin Mary.
                  He suffered under Pontius Pilate,
                     was crucified, died, and was buried.
                  He descended to the dead.
                  On the third day he rose again.
                  He ascended into heaven,
                     and is seated at the right hand of the Father.
                  He will come again to judge the living and the dead.

Celebrant   Do you believe in God the Holy Spirit?
People       I believe in the Holy Spirit,
                     the holy catholic Church,
                     the communion of saints,
                     the forgiveness of sins,
                     the resurrection of the body,
                     and the life everlasting.

Celebrant   Will you continue in the apostles' teaching and
                     fellowship, in the breaking of bread,
                     and in the prayers?
People      I will, with God's help.

Celebrant   Will you persevere in resisting evil, and, whenever
                     you fall into sin, repent and return to the Lord
People      I will, with God's help.

Celebrant   Will you proclaim by word and example the Good News
                     of God in Christ?
People      I will, with God's help.

Celebrant   Will you seek and serve Christ in all persons,
                     loving your neighbor as yourself?
People     I will, with God's help.

Celebrant   Will you strive for justice and peace among all people,
.                      and respect the dignity of every human being?
People      I will, with God's help.

The Celebrant concludes the Renewal of Vows as follows

May Almighty God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has given us a new birth by water and the Holy Spirit, and bestowed upon us the forgiveness of sins, keep us in eternal life by his grace, in Christ Jesus our Lord. Amen.


You are God: we praise you;
You are the Lord; we acclaim you;
You are the eternal Father:
All creation worships you.
To you all angels, all the powers of heaven,
Cherubim and Seraphim, sing in endless praise:
  Holy, holy, holy Lord, God of power and might,
  heaven and earth are full of your glory.
The glorious company of apostles praise you.
The noble fellowship of prophets praise you.
The white-robed army of martyrs praise you.
Throughout the world the holy Church acclaims you;
  Father, of majesty unbounded,
  your true and only Son, worthy of all worship,
  and the Holy Spirit, advocate and guide.

You, Christ, are the king of glory,
the eternal Son of the Father.
When you became man to set us free
you did not shun the Virgin's womb.
You overcame the sting of death
and opened the kingdom of heaven to all believers.
You are seated at God's right hand in glory.
We believe that you will come and be our judge.
Come then, Lord, and help your people,
bought with the price of your own blood,
and bring us with your saints
to glory everlasting.

V.  Save your people, Lord, and bless your inheritance;
R.  govern and uphold them, now and always.
V.  Day by day we bless you;
R.  we praise your name for ever.
V.  Keep us today, Lord, from all sin;
R.  have mercy on us, Lord, have mercy.
V.  Lord, show us your love and mercy;
R.  for we put our trust in you.
V.  In you, Lord, is our hope;
R.  and we shall never hope in vain.

Readings from the 1979 Book of Common Prayer. The Collects and Prayers are from both the Episcopal and Catholic prayers of the day; the anthem at the Candle-lighting is from The Book of Occasional Services; the Patristic Reading is from the Office of Readings in the Liturgy of the Hours for the Day of Pentecost.


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