He is risen! Happy Easter!
On Easter Sunday in medieval and Tudor times, the candles in the church and around the Easter sepulchre were extinguished, and then the church lights were re-lit by the priest, from a fire. The sepulchre was opened, and Christ’s resurrection was celebrated with a special mass.
The Easter Sunday mass marked the end of Lent, a period where people’s diets were restricted, so it was only natural to celebrate it with good food. Dairy products and meat were back on the menu, and people enjoyed roasted meats like chicken, lamb and veal.
I love reformer William Tyndale’s translation of the New Testament and thought I’d share with you John 20, which, as she owned a copy of Tyndale’s New Testament, I’m sure Anne Boleyn would have read on Easter Sunday. The spelling is the original.
“The morow after the saboth daye came Mary Magdalene erly when it was yet darcke vnto ye sepulcre and sawe the stone taken awaye from ye toumbe. Then she ranne and came to Simon Peter and to the other disciple whome Iesus loved and sayde vnto them. They have taken awaye the Lorde out of the toumbe and we cannot tell where they have layde him. Peter went forth and that other disciple and came vnto the sepulcre. They ranne bothe to gether and that other disciple dyd out runne Peter and came fyrst to the sepulcre. And he stouped doune and sawe the lynnen clothes lyinge yet went he not in.
Then came Simon Peter folowynge him and went into ye sepulcre and sawe the lynnen clothes lye and the napkyn that was aboute his heed not lyinge with the lynnen clothe but wrapped togeder in a place by it selfe. Then went in also that other disciple which came fyrst to the sepulcre and he sawe and beleved. For as yet they knew not the scriptures that he shuld ryse agayne from deeth.
And the disciples went awaye agayne vnto their awne home. Mary stode with out at the sepulcre wepynge. And as she wept she bowed her selfe into the sepulcre and sawe two angels in whyte sittyng the one at the heed and the other at the fete where they had layde the body of Iesus. And they sayde vnto her: woman why wepest thou? She sayde vnto the: For they have taken awaye my lorde and I wote not where they have layde him. When she had thus sayde she turned her selfe backe and sawe Iesus stondynge and knewe not that it was Iesus. Iesus sayde vnto her: woman why wepest thou? Whom sekest thou? She supposynge that he had bene the gardener sayde vnto him. Syr yf thou have borne him hece tell me where thou hast layde him that I maye fet him. Iesus sayde vnto her: Mary. She turned her selfe and sayde vnto him: Rabboni which is to saye master. Iesus sayde vnto her touche me not for I am not yet ascended to my father. But goo to my brethren and saye vnto them I ascende vnto my father and youre father to: my god and youre god. Mary Magdalene came and tolde the disciples yt she had sene the lorde and yt he had spoken soche thinges vnto her.
The same daye at nyght which was the morowe after ye saboth daye when the dores were shut where the disciples were assembled to geder for feare of the Iewes came Iesus and stode in the myddes and sayd to the: peace be with you. And when he had so sayde he shewed vnto them his hondes and his syde. Then were the disciples glad when they sawe the Lorde. Then sayde Iesus to them agayne: peace be with you. As my father sent me even so sende I you. And when he had sayde that he brethed on them and sayde vnto the: Receave ye holy goost. Whosoevers synnes ye remyt they are remitted vnto the. And whosoevers synnes ye retayne they are retayned.” John 20: 1-23
Picture: Resurrection of Jesus Christ, Raphael, 1502.