Holy Saturday at 8pm

For this service you need to 

  • Have a large candle or build a fire outside (perhaps in the bottom of a BBQ or Fire pit
  • A bowl of water to renew your baptism vows
  • You need to decide what hymns you’d like to sing
  • Read through the material and decide how best it will work in your context
  • The idea is that the whole service is done outside – around a campfire. But it could also be done inside around a candle.
  • You’ll also need to decide who will lead what – allow everyone who wants to to have a go.
  • All the other #worshipwhereyouare services during Holy Week can be done at any time that suits you, but we’re trying to see if everyone can do this service at 8pm… in order to create a sense of ‘together but apart

Some background to Holy Saturday

Holy Saturday is an in-between space – a space when we feel in limbo. It doesn’t have the grief of Good Friday or the rejoicing of Easter Sunday. It’s a time when we’re not sure what’s going on, it’s the dark time before the dawn, it’s the period of lull before hope returns. 

I think this quote by Rabindranath Tagore sums up the feel of it.

here are many times in our lives that feel like Holy Saturday. 

It is a time of where we feel stuck… but hope is rising. 

We can feel like that when coping with an illness, bereavement or today particularly poignantly the effects of the Coronavirus.

Holy Saturday is about waiting. About singing in the darkness. About believing that hope will come again. 

 It’s not quite the celebration of the resurrection, but it is the being aware that there are rumours in the air of something stirring. We sing, we dance, we retell the stories in hope of what is to come.

Traditionally it’s also a time when we’ve renewed our Baptism vows in preparation for Easter. 

Please use as much or as little of this service that suits your context. And feel free to add in bits of your own.

The Easter Vigil Holy Saturday

The service starts around an unlit fire or candle.

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,

on this most holy night,

when our Lord Jesus Christ passed from death to life,

the Church invites her children throughout the world

to come together in vigil and prayer.

This is the Passover of the Lord.

We remember his death and resurrection

by hearing his word and celebrating his mysteries,

confident that we shall share his victory over death

and live with him for ever in God.

The new fire is kindled or a candle is lit

Eternal God,

who made this most holy night

to shine with the brightness of your one true light:

set us aflame with the fire of your love,

and bring us to the radiance of your heavenly glory;

through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Choirs of angels, stars and planets:

all God’s people sing and dance.

All creation, Church of God:

all God’s people sing and dance.

We praise you Lord of life and death:

we glorify your name:
all God’s people sing and dance.

This is the night you set us free,
bringing us home in love;
holy night, when you led your people
through the fearsome sea:
all God’s people sing and dance.

This is the night you brought your Son

through the doors of death;

O holy night, when death takes flight

and hope is born again:

all God’s people sing and dance.

This is the night our tears of sadness

turn to shouts of joy;

holy night, when the choirs of earth

sing the songs of heaven:

all God’s people sing and dance.

This is the night when Christ our Light

makes the darkness bright:

all God’s people sing and dance.

Christ is the life that knows no end.

Christ is the love that burns within.

Christ is the peace that floods the world.

Christ is the Lord who reigns on high.

All God’s people sing and dance.

Songs of hope are sung around the lit fire/candle, for example: Soon and very soon, we are going to see the King/There is a redeemer/The Lord is my light

Give me joy in my heart/Amazing Grace or this new hymn to the tune “Abide with me”

May the light of Christ, rising in glory,

banish all darkness from our hearts and minds.

Psalm 31:1-4 New Revised Standard Version, Anglicised (NRSVA)

In you, O Lord, I seek refuge;
    do not let me ever be put to shame;
    in your righteousness deliver me.
Incline your ear to me;
    rescue me speedily.
Be a rock of refuge for me,
    a strong fortress to save me.

You are indeed my rock and my fortress;
    for your name’s sake lead me and guide me,
take me out of the net that is hidden for me,
    for you are my refuge.

John 19:38-42 New Revised Standard Version, Anglicised (NRSVA)

38 After these things, Joseph of Arimathea, who was a disciple of Jesus, though a secret one because of his fear of the Jews, asked Pilate to let him take away the body of Jesus. Pilate gave him permission; so he came and removed his body. 39 Nicodemus, who had at first come to Jesus by night, also came, bringing a mixture of myrrh and aloes, weighing about a hundred pounds. 40 They took the body of Jesus and wrapped it with the spices in linen cloths, according to the burial custom of the Jews. 41 Now there was a garden in the place where he was crucified, and in the garden there was a new tomb in which no one had ever been laid. 42 And so, because it was the Jewish day of Preparation, and the tomb was nearby, they laid Jesus there.

Silence is kept

Renewal of Baptismal Vows

In baptism, God calls us out of darkness into his marvellous light.
To follow Christ means dying to sin and rising to new life with him. Therefore I ask:

Do you turn to Christ?
I turn to Christ.

Do you repent of your sins?
I repent of my sins.

Do you renounce evil?
I renounce evil.

Renewal of our commitment to Christ
Everyone renews their commitment to Christ by going to the water and making the sign of the cross with it on their forehead

Almighty God,
we thank you for our fellowship in the household of faith
with all who have been baptized in your name.
Keep us faithful to our baptism,
and so make us ready for that day
when the whole creation shall be made perfect in your Son,
our Saviour Jesus Christ.


Those who are baptized are called to worship and serve God.

Will you continue in the apostles’ teaching and fellowship,

in the breaking of bread, and in the prayers?

With the help of God, I will.

Will you persevere in resisting evil,

and, whenever you fall into sin, repent and return to the Lord?

With the help of God, I will.

Will you proclaim by word and example

the good news of God in Christ?

With the help of God, I will.

Will you seek and serve Christ in all people,

loving your neighbour as yourself?

With the help of God, I will.

Will you acknowledge Christ’s authority over human society,

by prayer for the world and its leaders,

by defending the weak, and by seeking peace and justice?

With the help of God, I will.

May Christ dwell in your hearts through faith,

that you may be rooted and grounded in love

and bring forth the fruit of the Spirit. 


ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS Copyright material is included from Common Worship: Services and Prayers for the Church of England copyright © The Archbishops’ Council 2000 and Common Worship: Times and Seasons copyright © The Archbishops’ Council 2006 

Poems by Malcolm Guite

XIII Jesus’ body is taken down from the cross

His spirit and his life he breathes in all
Now on this cross his body breathes no more
Here at the centre everything is still
Spent, and emptied, opened to the core.
A quiet taking down, a prising loose
A cross-beam lowered like a weighing scale
Unmaking of each thing that had its use
A long withdrawing of each bloodied nail,
This is ground zero, emptiness and space
With nothing left to say or think or do
But look unflinching on the sacred face
That cannot move or change or look at you.
Yet in that prising loose and letting be
He has unfastened you and set you free.

XIV Jesus is laid in the tomb

Here at the centre everything is still
Before the stir and movement of our grief
Which bears it’s pain with rhythm, ritual,
Beautiful useless gestures of relief.
So they anoint the skin that cannot feel
Soothing his ruined flesh with tender care,
Kissing the wounds they know they cannot heal,
With incense scenting only empty air.
He blesses every love that weeps and grieves
And makes our grief the pangs of a new birth.
The love that’s poured in silence at old graves
Renewing flowers, tending the bare earth,
Is never lost. In him all love is found
And sown with him, a seed in the rich ground.

Holy Saturday

She used to say she loved
those TV movies about Jesus,
but hated the crucifixion scene

even though it was toned down
in the grains of 1970s film,
palatable to the eyes of those
eating dinner in front of
a flickering screen.

This is us, now, knowing
how it all ends, knowing
in three days the lungs of God
would reinflate.

Knowing the ending, could I
ever comprehend the blackness,
ever imagine the darkest
Saturday in history?

A King’s body shrouded in spices
and linen lay withering
behind stone,

The budding bloom of salvation,
trod by
His creation.

Oh my God

today the sun scatters clouds
the sun that once turned away
at your final earthly breath
as the lion lay shorn and still.

May I never forget
the darkest day of history,
spring stopped, waiting,
pressing her face
at the tomb’s door.

Jen Rose Yokel