Lights on


I know it is too early to ask this, but when should be the lights be turned on during the Easter Vigil. During the Gloria or after the third proclamation of Lumen Christi. Some parishes do it during the Gloria, others after the third" “Lumen Christi”


The rubrics say after the third “Lumen Christi”. Choosing to ignore that rubric is a desire for theatrics. It makes no sense to proclaim the Light of Christ and then sit in the dark for 9 readings.


This is from

The Preparation And Celebration Of The Easter Feasts
Congregation for Divine Worship

  1. The first part …

The paschal candle should be prepared, which for effective symbolism must be made of wax, never be artificial, be renewed each year, be only one in number, and be of sufficiently large size so that it may evoke the truth that Christ is the light of the world. It is blessed with the signs and words prescribed in the Missal or by the Conference of Bishops.

  1. The procession, by which the people enter the church, should be led by the light of the paschal candle alone. Just as the children of Israel were guided at night by a pillar of fire, so similarly, Christians follow the risen Christ. There is no reason why to each response “Thanks be to God” there should not be added some acclamation in honor of Christ.

The light from the paschal candle should be gradually passed to the candles which it is fitting that all present should hold in their hands, the electric lighting being switched off.

  1. The deacon makes the Easter Proclamation…

That was issued in 1988

In the 3rd edition of the Roman Missal:

There is a rubric in the Missal (#17) that says that all the lights in the church (except for the altar candles) are to be lit BEFORE the Exsultet. The altar candles are lit during the Gloria (rubric #31).

The same rubric is found in the 2nd edition of the Roman Missal (1985 printing) rubric #15. That rubric pre-dates P.S. but also contradicts it.

Why mention conflicting sources???
Because invariably, someone will quote Paschalis Sollemnitatis and insist that the lights should be out during the Exsultet (someone like, perhaps a user here called FrDavid96 in a thread last Easter season).

So which rubric do we follow? The one in the current edition of the Roman Missal, or the one in Paschalis Sollemnitatis?

Personally, I think that the electric lights should be off during the Exsultet; even though the candles (esp. the Pascal) should be burning.

Looking forward to seeing where this thread goes…



3rd Edition Roman Missal #22.

The congregation’s individual candles are “set aside” after the Exsultet, and before the readings. Of course, if they’re set aside, they must necessarily be extinguished.


At the Pope’s Easter Vigil Mass in 2012 (I picked that because the pamphlet is available online) the lights of the Basilica were turned on at the end of the Lumen Christi and before the Exsultet.


I’ve never understood the idea that because our candles are burning the lights should be out. We don’t turn the lights out later when we relight our candles for the Renewal of Baptismal Promises.


The thing to note is that Paschale Solemnitatis doesn’t say anything about when the lights come back on. All it says is that at the start of the procession with the paschal candle the lights are off and that we share the light during the singing of Lumen Christi. It doesn’t really contradict the Roman Missal. I guess the writers just expected we’d follow the rubrics. Silly writers. :rolleyes:


I guess I’m reading them differently. If one says “off” and the other says “on” it seems like they contract, at least in my humble opinion.

I cannot help but wonder if there’s a typo in the English translation of P.S.

I’m serious here. I’ll have to look into that later (busy at the moment). Maybe you or someone else can.

What does it say in French?


I doubt it’s a typo. P.S. says is that the electric lights are off when we start sharing the light from the paschal candle. That they are, they’ve been out since we left the church to go out for the blessing of the new fire. They are out when we enter the church after the blessing of the new fire. They are out when the procession with the paschal candle starts; they still are when we start sharing the light by lighting our candles from the paschal candle and passing it around to others.

What it doesn’t say is when they are turned back on.

As for the French translation, I can’t find that document in French anywhere.


The only one I could find online was in Portuguese. I don’t read it (not by a long shot) but I could find the sentence and do an online translation. Same thing. The lights are off for the Lumen Christi. So much for the “typo” theory.

So when are they supposed to be turned on? Or perhaps I should ask: when may they be turned on? There’s no liturgical law requiring electric lights. In fact, a rubric requiring them would be pretty absurd. However, given that we do have a rubric telling us when they must be off, it would be nice to have something to tell us when they may be on.



From my 1985 Gregorian Missal from the indefatigable monks of Solesmes:

"Lorsque le diacre arrive à l’autel, il chante une troisième fois Lumen Christi! On allume alors toutes les lumières de l’Église".

After which:


On place le cierge pascal sur un chandelier. Tous prennent place et restent debout avec leurs cierges allumés pour écouter l’annonce solennelle de la Pâque que chante le diacre, ou, à défaut, un chantre ou même le prêtre


When the deacon arrives at the altar, he chants Lumen Christi! for the third time. Then all the lights in the church are turned on.


The paschal candle is placed on a chandelier. All take their places, remaining standing with their candles lit in order to hear the Easter proclamation, chanted by the deacon, or if necessary, by a cantor or the priest himself.

Hope this helps… or maybe it muddies things further.


I guess they figure we’ll read the Missal and turn them on when the rubrics tell us to do so.


And that’s what I find confusing.

P. S. tells us that they are off at the same time that the missal tells us that they are on.

My inclination is to say that the Missal takes precedence over P.S. (that would be the correct method of interpreting the rubrics, since the Missal has more authority). But I find it odd that a document intended to clarify the rubrics (and indeed to insist that the missal be followed) would have a contradiction like that.

One thought was that maybe the 3rd typical edition revised the rubrics, but a quick look at the old Sacramentary showed the same thing.


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