Sunday, April 12, 2009

Happy Easter!

Greetings from "the Easter City", as Winston-Salem is known the world over.

Our Easter Sunrise Service in Historic Old Salem is a memorable event. Parishioners gather with thousands of others to celebrate the resurrection of Christ in our quaint graveyard. This morning, people from all walks of life will begin gathering about 4:30am (some start earlier) in anticipation of the event.

The graveyard service here began in 1732 with a small gathering of brethren. The brethren chose to celebrate the resurrection of Christ by meditating and singing in this graveyard, known as God's Acre. The service has changed very little since 1772. Many other American Christian sects take their Easter service traditions from this early beginning, here in Winston-Salem, NC.

Traditional Moravian churches in America feature a brass band. The Salem Congregation of the Moravian Church, Southern Province, witnessed their first brass band well over 200 years ago. This first band had 6 members. Today, there are an estimated 400 members from the 12 churches that make up this congregation.

Salem Brass Band, circa 1862, courtesy of the Moravian Archives

The Salem Congregation churches are centrally situated in the heart of Winston-Salem, radiating from the downtown area. For hundreds of years, the brass bands from these churches have braved the chilly and, occasionally, icy air to announce the resurrection of our Lord and Savior. Beginning around 2am on Easter morn, the bands would begin a walk around their respective neighborhoods to herald the coming sunrise and awaken parishioners for the Easter service. Traditionally, the first chorale is "Sleepers, Wake!"

Trinity Moravian's 1st Brass Band, 1922, courtesy of the Trinity Moravian Archives

Upon awakening, the parishioners could follow the band from their neighborhood directly to Salem for the large ceremony. Sort of a Pied Piper scenario, for families! Once arrived in Salem, the gates of the cemetery would open at a designated time, currently 6:30am. The crowds would make their way to the highest point in the cementer (which now overlooks Downtown Winston-Salem) to await the rising sun. The brass band would continue to play periodically during this liturgical service.

Over the years, the neighborhoods surrounding these Salem Congregation churches has changed. The band participants have aged and noise ordinances have been established, therefore the neighborhood serenades have diminished significantly. Fortunately, I live in one of the few remaining neighborhoods that do participate. There is nothing comparable with being lulled gently awake by the sounds of a brass band on Easter morning! Your heart awakens with a song and first thoughts of the Lord...

He is risen!

He is risen, indeed!

What are your Easter plans?


Thomas said...

Well, if I weren't diabetic, I sure would have eaten one of those huge foot long chocolate easter bunnies, starting at his ears. But instead I had 3 jelly beans.

Oh, and said a "what's ahp" to the J-man.

mazinged - extremely tastey corn that you recall eating in the past.

Thumperdd said...

Yummy! I didn't have a bunny this year but a handful of Easter M&M's did the trick...

Be careful with those jelly beans. My Gran was diabetic and ate a whole bagful one year. (She got them on sale after Easter.) Ended up in coma w/ congestive heart failure, then had major stroke. Definitely not worth the jelly beans!

Hope the not smoking is going well!


Thomas said...

I'm still not smoking.
and I only ate 3 jelly beans.
If things weren't going well, I dare say, I'd have run out and bought the bunny.

sness - Striving to meet the need of more -ness in one's life.

Thomas said...

It's gonna be Labor Day soon...
Post something

wello - Well Hello!