Friday, October 18, 2013

The All Night Vigil

I just ran across an amazing description of a Russian Orthodox All Night Vigil that was undertaken, in its entirety, in 1911. Apparently, the All Night Vigil is usually truncated to some extent, but this particular celebration was organized specifically as an attempt to undertake the complete liturgy.

Much of the musical detail described is opaque to me, but what I was really struck by was the passion that the organizers had for the celebration, and the effect the liturgy had on its participants. A few examples:

On the following day, the majority of those who participated in the service described themselves as almost intoxicated all throughout the all-night vigil. No one mentioned having been tired.

One student, a lover of sleep, left the church several times, undressed and lay down on his bed, but, unable to fall asleep because he knew that a few steps away such an original, unheard of service was taking place, he returned to the church.

And my favorite:

The two leaders of the service, who can recite by memory the entire second chapter of the Typicon, after the vigil service lost their minds

There's even a short discourse on the nature of Psalm-singing that touches on themes mentioned in my recent essay on the mediant pause.

Read the full description of a "real" All Night Vigil.