Today is Easter Sunday and Christians around the world will be celebrating the resurrection of Jesus Christ.
In Tudor times, an Easter sepulchre had been prepared on Good Friday. This sepulchre represented the sealed tomb Christ had been laid to rest in following his crucifixion. It consisted of a stone or wooden niche filled with the consecrated host and an image of Christ. It was “sealed” by covering it with a cloth and then candles were lit around it and it was guarded by members of the church, who represented the Roman soldiers who had guarded Christ’s tomb. On Easter Sunday, the sepulchre’s candles, and those of the church, would be extinguished and then re-lit by the parish priest from the fire. The sepulchre would be opened and then a special mass would celebrate Christ’s resurrection.
It was a day to celebrate. Christ was risen and the fasting of Lent was over.
Queen Anne Boleyn owned a copy of William Tyndale’s New Testament, which she kept open in her apartments for her household to read, so here is the extract from Matthew’s Gospel about Christ’s resurrection, words that Anne would have known:
“The Sabboth daye at even which dauneth the morowe after the Sabboth Mary Magdalene and the other Mary came to se the sepulcre. And beholde ther was a greate erth quake. For the angell of ye lorde descended from heven: and came and rowlled backe the stone from the dore and sate apon it. His countenaunce was lyke lyghtnynge and his raymet whyte as snowe. And for feare of him the kepers were astunnyed and became as deed men. The angell answered and sayde to the wemen feare ye not. I knowe yt ye seke Iesus which was crucified: he is not here: he is rysen as he sayde. Come and se the place where the lorde was put: and goo quickly and tell his disciples yt he is rysen from deeth. And beholde he will go before you into Galile there ye shall se him. Lo I have tolde you.
And they departed quickly from the sepulcre with feare and greate Ioye: and did runne to bringe his disciples worde. And as they went to tell his disciples: beholde Iesus met them sayinge: All hayle. And they came and held him by the fete and worshipped him. The sayde Iesus vnto them: be not afrayde. Go and tell my brethren that they goo in to Galile and there shall they se me. When they were gone: beholde some of the kepers came into the cyte and shewed vnto the hie prestes all the thinges that were hapened. And they gaddered them to gedder with the elders and toke counsell and gave large money vnto the soudiers sayinge: Saye that his disciples came by nyght and stole him awaye whill ye slept. And if this come to the rulers cares we wyll pease him and save you harmeles. And they toke the money and dyd as they were taught. And this sayinge is noysed amoge the Iewes into this daye. Then the .xi. disciples went awaye into Galile in to a mountayne where Iesus had appoynted them. And when they sawe hym they worshipped him. But some of them douted. And Iesus came and spake vnto them sayinge: All power ys geve vnto me in heve and in erth. Go therfore and teache all nacions baptysinge them in the name of the father and the sonne and the holy goost: Teachinge them to observe all thynges what soever I comcommaunded you. And lo I am with you all waye even vntyll the ende of the worlde.”
Christ is risen!
Notes and Sources
Picture: Taken at Semana Santa Viviente de Cuevas del Campo, Good Friday 2017. Copyright Claire Ridgway.
- Matthew 28, Tyndale New Testament, http://www.biblestudytools.com/tyn/matthew/28.html