Easter Vigil only three OT readings?


At the Easter Vigil I went to, there were only three old testament readings. I know there are 10, but I was wondering if it was appropriate or practice among some parishes to read fewer than 10.

He is Risen! Happy Easter!


My parish usually sticks to three, although they did do four a couple years ago. I don’t know what the rules are in regard to it.


There are seven prescribed readings from the Old Testament and two New Testament readings (Epistle and Gospel) for the Easter Vigil. For different pastoral reasons, the number of readings from the Old Testament may be cut down to three, but the reading of Exodus and its respective Responsorial Psalm ought never be omitted.

My parish used to do all seven OT readings, but they cut it down to four to “conserve time.”


There are, if memory serves, seven readings from the Old Testament. It’s possible to cut that down to three readings (or even two, for a grave reason), but the reading of Moses leading the Israelites across the Red Sea must be read.


Ahh, yes there are 7 OT, sorry. Makes sense to read the one relating to Passover. Thanks :slight_smile:


I’ve been in several parishes where only three were read.

We did all 7 this year and different choir members took turns chanting the psalms as we don’t have an official cantor who could do it. The tune to the responses varied but all the psalms but one were chanted to the same tone. But then I heard a version of Psalm 42; 43 (As a deer longs for running streams…) that I’d never heard before. It was sung by a man and his wife who are new to this parish, new to the country in fact, and while not certain, I think it’s one they would have sung back home. It was beautiful.


We had 7 OT readings but only 3 Psalms. Unfortunately, since there were no baptisms, my favorite Psalm – “As a deer longs for water”-- was omitted, as was the Litany of the Saints.

I did not know these were to be omitted, as we always have had baptisms, but when I checked the missalette, sure enough, those were to be omitted. But it was beautiful anyway.


The same in my parish, although thank goodness because the Mass went on over 3 hours as it was!!! Had there been 7 readings and 7 psalms it would have been longer, I don’t mind a long Mass but we are not used to that!


There are always only three read at my parish. I did hear that once, some of the parishioners “bullied” our priest into doing all seven. They said it was great. Like a marathon! I would love it.


Our church always has 4 Old Testament readings. None of the Psalms are usually sung, though: only spoken. The only thing sung is the Alleluia. But the whole beginning of the service (The Procession) is sung by a soloist, and there is nothing spoken until the readings start. Everyone’s candles are lit and we listen only by candlelight. It is absolutely beautiful!

What a wondrous night!



We do four and four, with the person reading singing the Psalm. It takes about 45 minutes from start of Mass to the Gloria.


I’m one who almost always prefers the longer options (e.g., Confiteor, Roman Canon) for solemn occasions, of which Easter is the highest. And it was the Easter vigil during which I heard the Roman Canon, which I haven’t heard at an OF Mass, maybe ever. But I would rather not have a 3.5 hour Mass with 7 OT readings. 3 is good enough.


“At least three readings should be read from the Old Testament, both from the Law and from the Prophets, and their respective Responsorial Psalms should be sung. Never, moreover, should the reading of chapter 14 of Exodus with its canticle be omitted.” (Roman Missal, Easter Vigil, n. 21).

“In place of the Responsorial Psalm a period of sacred silence may be observed in which case the pause after Let us pray is omitted.” (Roman Missal, Easter Vigil, n. 23).

The canticle for the “reading of chapter 14 of Exodus” is from chapter 15 of Exodus. So in a sense it is another reading, even though it is a Responsorial Psalm.

The Alleluia before the Gospel is a Responsorial Psalm, using Psalm 117. I regard it as also required.

So if Responsorial Psalms are counted as “readings” then a minimum of five Old Testament “readings” are required for the Easter Vigil.


The abbey did 5, with the shorter reading for the first reading from Genesis. They did chant all the responses though, minus their best voice who was laid low with the flu. The community is getting elderly and frail. They used to start the Vigil at 10 pm but now it starts at 9 pm. Please pray for them, they desperately need new vocations. Fortunately a young monk who had left will soon be a “prodigal monk” and is scheduled to return this fall. He was at the Triduum in choir. Thanks be to God!

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