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A vigil may be held on the eve of a religious festival (feast days), observed by remaining awakeâ€”"watchful"â€”as a devotional exercise or ritual observance on the eve of a holy day.Such liturgical vigils usually consist of psalms, prayers and hymns, possibly a sermon or readings from hers]], and sometimes periods of silent meditation.
The term "morning" means that the observance begins on the evening before. In traditional Christianity, the celebration of liturgical feasts begins on the evening before the holy day because the Early Church continued the Jewish practice of beginning the day at sunset rather than midnight.
Most likely the best known vigil is the Easter Vigil held on Holy Saturday. The Midnight Mass held on Christmas Eve is a remnant of this practice. Christmas eve is a time of reflection for Christians in the U.S. and all over the world.
In the Eastern Orthodox Church an All-Night Vigil (consisting of Great Vespers, Matins and the First Hour) is held on the eves of Sundays and all Major Feast Days (such as the Twelve Great Feasts and the Feast Days of important Saints) during the liturgical year.
Vigils are also commonly observed on Holy Days in the Anglican and Methodist Churches.
Also by JamesHarmon McQuilkin
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