He is Risen – Easter Sunday and the Tudors

Happy Easter!

Today, Christians around the world celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ. This was a day that was also important in the Tudor church calendar.

On Easter Sunday, people would go to church and the church candles and those around the Easter sepulchre were extinguished and then the church candles were re-lit by the priest from a fire. The Easter sepulchre that had been prepared on Good Friday, and which represented Christ’s tomb, was opened and the consecrated host and the image of Christ taken out. Christ’s resurrection, his triumph over death and his sacrifice for our sins, was then celebrated with a special mass.

Of course, Easter Sunday also brought the fasting of Lent to a close, so people also celebrated the day with feasting.

On Good Friday, I shared the apostle John’s account of Christ’s crucifixion, taken from William Tyndale’s New Testament, a book that Anne Boleyn owned and encouraged others to read. Here is Tyndale’s translation of John’s account of the first Easter Sunday (I have modernised the spelling):

“The morrow after the sabbath day came Mary Magdalene early when it was yet dark, unto the sepulchre and saw the stone taken away from the tomb. Then she ran, and came to Simon Peter and to the other disciple whom Jesus loved, and said unto them. They have taken away the Lord out of the tomb and we cannot tell where they have laid him. Peter went forth and that other disciple, and came unto the sepulchre. They ran both together, and that other disciple did outrun Peter and came first to the sepulchre. And he stooped down and saw the linen cloths, yet went he not in. Then came Simon Peter following him, and went into the sepulchre, and saw the linen cloths lie, and the napkin that was about his head not lying with the linen cloths, but wrapped together in a place by itself. Then went in also that other disciple which came first to the sepulchre and he saw and believed. For as yet they knew not the scriptures, that he should rise again from death. And the disciples went away again unto their own home.

Mary stood with out at the sepulchre weeping. And as she wept, she bowed herself into the sepulchre and saw two angels in white sitting the one at the head, and the other at the feet, where they had laid the body of Jesus. They said unto her: woman why weepest thou? She said unto them: For they have taken away my lord, and I wot not where they have laid him. When she had thus said, she turned herself back and saw Jesus standing, and knew not that it was Jesus. Jesus said unto her: woman why weepest thou? Whom seekest thou? She supposing that he had been the gardener, said unto him. Sir if thou have borne him hence tell me where thou hast laid him, and I will take him away. Jesus said unto her: Mary. She turned herself and said unto him: Rabboni which is to say master. Jesus said unto her: touch me not, for I am not yet ascended to my father. But go to my brethren and say unto them, I ascend unto my father, and your father: my God, and your God. Mary Magdalene came and told the disciples that she had seen the lord, and that he had spoken such things unto her.

The same day at night, which was the morrow after the sabbath day, when the doors were shut (where the disciples were assembled together for fear of the Jews) came Jesus and stood in the midst, and said to them: peace be with you. And when he had so said, he showed unto them his hands and his feet, and his side. Then were the disciples glad when they saw the lord. He said unto them again: peace be with you. As my father sent me, even so send I you. When he had said that, he blew on them, and said unto them: Receive the holy ghost: whosoever’s sins ye remit, they are remitted unto them: And whosoever’s sins ye retain they are retained.”

On this day in history, 1st April 1536, the imperial ambassador, Eustace Chapuys, wrote a very long and detailed letter to his master, Emperor Charles V, in which he mentioned an incident concerning King Henry VIII and his alleged new flame, Jane Seymour. Click here to read more.

Notes and Sources

Picture: The Resurrection, studio of Sandro Botticelli.

  • Tyndale, William (d. 1536) The New Testament of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ by William Tyndale The Martyr, The Original Edition, 1526Gould & Newman, 1837, John 20.

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7 thoughts on “He is Risen – Easter Sunday and the Tudors”
  1. Happy Easter Claire, BQ, Christine and everyone who visits this site. What a Glorious Day. A celebration of the Lord’s promise of everlasting life made manifest. Hope you all have a wonderful day.
    Quick question: who did the painting that accompanies this article? Very beautiful.

  2. Thank you Michael you too, in Tudor England they did have more ceremony ‘s for religious events, and I bet the atmosphere was quite sombre in the churches up and down the country as they celebrated the resurrection, I bet the old hymns they sung were beautiful and of course afterwards they enjoyed the feasting, in the rich households they would have eaten meat and fresh baked bread, wines and desserts and the Royal court would have had a sumptuous array of delicacy’s, however in the poorer households there would have been the usual broth made of vegetables and ale to drink but rich or poor they would have all celebrated the resurrection, today it is also April Fools Day which means that in England a wild story emerges on the news, many years ago some family was said to have had a pet dinosaur in their garden, a very small one though which the scientists had thought was extinct, the next day on the news it was revealed to be a hoax, they do it every year and make it sound so convincing, I’m not having a very good Easter as yesterday I caught a muscle in my back whilst I was putting my duvet in the cover so am hobbling around, was going out Saturday and out for a meal tonight but have had to cancel both events, but at least I have my choc bunnys and the tv, nothing like a bit of chocolate when you feel fed up.

  3. Happy Easter. He is Risen Indeed! Hallelujah!! Sorry to hear you have had an accident, Christine, but hope you heal soon and at least you can curl up with Easter bunnies. I have had a quiet day, watching television as well.

    With today also being All Fools Day, imagine the chaos that would cause at the big houses, having a feast with their guests and tenants and the King of Fools arrives and takes over as you had to let everyone in and they had the run of the place for one day. Easter of course is on a cycle which is why it varies from year to year. I do wish the plan to set a fixed date now being looked at comes to pass, say the second weekend in April as the weather may be a bit warmer. We have had a Feast of Fire all week and we are going to another tomorrow, the final evening. It is sculpted fires and themed fire music and dance and wild audience participation. The Celtic Fire was wonderful and the African one last night looked good and tomorrow it is an Indian theme. It reminds us that Easter was also the New Spring in old times and the theme is rebirth which fits well with the new life that Jesus offered on the Cross. Of course, the original feast at this time would have been Passover, because the events took place in Roman occupied Palestine, in the Kingdom of Israel, and was a time when Jewish people remembered and still do remember the delivery from slavery in Egypt when the Angle of Death passed over their homes and they were delivered from that bondage. This is a very appropriate time because it is believed by all Christian believers that Jesus passed from death to life and freed everyone from the bonds of sin and fear. It is a time of new life and the Spring gives us hope as we come out of the dark of winter back into the sunlight. The Spring fires of Beltane will be lit in a few weeks, when animals were blessed and cleansed as they passed a gate of fire. May brings the new blossom and we rejoice as we see the new lambs and baby animals and the colour is back in our gardens. It is wonderful on Twitter to see so many people sharing beautiful messages of faith and hope these last few days with many colourful and beautiful pictures to convey that message.

    Mary of Magdala when she found the cave tomb empty must have felt very much alone until Jesus revealed himself in what was a very profound and personal appearance on the day after the Sabbath, Sunday morning. It is a very moving story and all of the Resurrection appearances are so very intimate and answer a need in each person. That I find very much a consultation. However you keep Easter or Passover or the Spring festival, I hope you are all blessed with peace and joy.

    Happy Easter to everyone. Amen.

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