“Tis the Spring of Souls Today”
In those first sights, sounds, and scents of Spring – the buds, the birds, and even the mud, I take great delight. Glad to “spring ahead” for a few more hours of sunlight each day, I look forward to cleaning up the yard, turning over the garden and this year’s planting. “All nature sings and round me rings the music of the spheres”.
I also so delight in those first sights, sounds and scents of Easter.
There can be no more wonderful sight at The Great Vigil than that sea of faces, diverse in age and culture, radiant with the light of resurrection glory. Everyone has drawn fire from the Paschal Candle, its holy flame a beautiful sign of the word of The Risen Lord, “Behold, I was dead but now I am alive for evermore” (Revelation 1:18). The tapers they hold are a sign of the Lord’s promise, “Because I live you shall live also” (John 14:19).
There can be no greater sound than those first strains of alleluia and the great invitation
“Rejoice O Mother Church!
Exult in glory!
The Risen Saviour shines upon you.
Let this place resound with joy,
echoing the mighty song of all God’s people!”
There can be no more lovely scent than the oil of chrism associated with baptism. Buried with Christ in baptism and raised to new life, the candidates are signed with the cross and marked as his own for ever. The oil used is charged with the scent of balsam. The saying of the Fathers of the early Church is as relevant as ever – “The sweet fragrance of Christ lingers wherever the newly baptized go.”
These sights and sounds and scents of The Great Vigil give way then to those of Easter Day. Thanks to so many who lovingly decorate our churches, they have about them a lovely garden like look and feel. Spring flowers abound. The cross is unveiled and the altar is vested in white. Songs of “Alleluia” fill the air.
“’Tis the spring of souls today;
Christ hath burst his prison,
and from three days sleep in death
as a sun hath risen.” (Hymn #215, Common Praise)
Throughout the seven weeks of The Easter Festival we greet one another in the very manner of the early Church.
“Alleluia! Christ is risen.
The Lord is risen indeed. Alleluia!”
This is how we gather for the liturgy. It’s also I think how we should go out from the liturgy, out into the world as an Easter People, a people whose souls are experiencing a springtime, a budding and blossoming into new life. Might the sights and sounds of our way of living charge the world with new hope. Might the scent of our witness, however small or broad its sphere, be as a sweet fragrance in the garden where God has placed us.
May we never forget that the one whose holy and life giving resurrection we celebrate is not only Lord of our personal lives, but the Lord of the Church, and indeed the Lord of the Cosmos. He is as St. Paul writes, “the image of the invisible God, the first born of all creation… He himself is before all things and in him all things hold together” (Colossians 1:15-16). In Him, our every hope springs eternal. Alleluia!
~ by Fred Hiltz, Archbishop and Primate
posted on April 4, 2015 to the Anglican Church of Canada’s website