Hymn suggestions - Easter Saturday - the Easter Vigil, Years A, B and C

A selection of hymns and songs, based on themes from the Roman Catholic lectionary for Easter Saturday - the Easter Vigil, Years A,B and C.

Most are free-to-use (ie public domain or copyright-free), so the words can be copied and sung to at least one tune with no concerns about copyright or performance licensing. Many of these hymns are old/traditional - but where possible a variety of styles / genres are included.

Seasonal Note

The Easter Vigil is the liturgical highlight of the Church year.  It is the third ceremony in the Triduum, following from the Holy Thursday commemoration of the Lord's Supper, and the Good Friday Celebration of the Lord's Passion.

It has four parts:
  • Liturgy of Light
  • Liturgy of the Word - which includes up to seven Old Testament readings, as well as an Epistle and Gosepel
  • Liturgy of Baptism
  • Liturgy of the Eucharist.

The Easter Vigil planning template is a worksheet for planning and organising this service.

Suggestions about other free-to-use hymns that could be included are welcome: leave a message in the Comments box near the bottom of the page.


Old testament readings 

  1. Genesis 1:1 -2:2 -   The creation story
  2. Genesis 22:1-18 -    God tested Abraham's willingness to offer his son
  3. Exodus 14:15 - 15:1 -     Moses parting the Red Sea so the people can escape from Egypt
  4. Isaiah 54: 5-14 -   With great love, the Lord has taken pity on you, and will never leave you.
  5. Isaiah 55:1-11 -   Come to the water, you who are thirsty / I will make an everlasting covenant
  6. Baruch 3:9-15, 32 - 4:4:  The One who knows all sends the light ... in her radiance, make your way to light
  7. Ezekiel 36:16-28 -   The nations will learn that I am the Lord ... I shall pour clean water over you ... I shall remove the heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh
Note:   The 3rd reading is compulsory.   Up to six others are chosen, depending on the liturgical guidelines and local / pastoral circumstances.

Mass Readings

First: Romans 6:3-11  - We were baptised in Christ's death - and resurrection.   When he died, he died once for all.

Psalm: 117 - Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia / Give thanks to the Lord / The Lord's right hand has triumphed.

Second: Hebrews  -In Jesus we have the supreme High Priest, who learnt to obey through suffering.


Year A Matthew 28:1-10 - The angel rolled away the stone, and said to the women "Do not be afraid, he is risen as he said.  Come and see the tomb, then go and tell the disciples that he is going to Galilee".  The women ran filled with awe and joy, and they met Jesus.

Year B Mark 16:1-7 - The women went to the tomb, and found the stone rolled away.  They entered the tomb, and found Jesus was gone.  A young man in a white robe told them that Jesus had risen, and that they should tell the disciples to go to Galilee to see Jesus.

Year C Luke 24:1-12 - The women went to the tomb, and found the stone rolled away.  Two dazzing men appeared and said "Why look among the dead for one who is alive?".  They reported this to the disciples, and Peter went to the tomb.


Resurrection, triumph over death, rejoicing, alleluia.

Free-use hymns

All Creatures of our God and King

Alleluia, Sing to Jesus

At the Lamb's High Feast we Sing

Breath on me O Breath of God

Come and Drink of that New River

Come Christians Join to Sing

Come Ye Faithful Raise the Strain

Glorious Things of You are Spoken

Hail the Day that Sees Him Rise

Hail Thee Festive Day

He is Lord

How Great is our God  (for the Exodus reading)

Let us with a Gladsome Mind

Jesus Christ is Risen Today

Joyful Joyful we Adore Thee

Rejoice in the Lord Always

Rejoice the Lord is King

Sing of Christ, Proclaim his Glory

The Day of Resurrection

Thine be the Glory

This Joyful Eastertide

Thou Whose Almighty Word

We Know that Christ is Raised and Dies No More - Geyer

Ye Choirs of New Jerusalem

Hymns which may still be copyright

Christ is Alive with Joy we Sing - Stotter

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  1. As The Deer
    Christ Be Our Light

  2. Light of the world you stepped down into darkness

  3. O worship the king
    We see Christ
    Salvation belongs to our God

  4. Nine readings are assigned to the Easter Vigil: seven from the Old Testament and the Epistle and Gospel from the New Testament. If special circumstances demand, in individual cases, the number of prescribed readings may be reduced to three readings from the Old Testament. However, in cases of extreme necessity, two readings from the Old Testament may be read before the Epistle and Gospel In all cases, the third reading from Exodus must always be read.

    The rubric is very different from your comment "All but the third reading are optional". To be a useful Liturgy tool we need accuracy to guide those who use the resource in the celebration of the liturgy. Thanks.

    1. Hi Peter

      Thanks for your comment. To be honest, I'm not attempting to be a full guide to the rubrics: that is what the translated version of the GIRM and other documents are for, and I would not at all like to try to replace them. But I will change my comment to be clearer.

  5. Most surprising that the much loved hymn; 'When I Survey the Wonderous Cross' is not listed for Holy Thursday or Good Friday. One of the greatest hymns ever written, by Isaac Watts, to the tune, 'Rockingham' by English composer Edward Miller, it must be classified as an all-time favourite.


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