Sunday morning concert Trombone choir will hit the streets before sunrise

By on March 27, 2013

Photo by Carl ShumanThe Trombone Choir leads a procession to the shrouded cross in God's Acre at the 2012 Sunrise Service.

Between 2 and 3 a.m. on Easter morning the members of the Moravian Trombone Choir gather at Church Square in Lititz to keep a tradition that is as old as the town itself. After sharing breakfast at the Church, the musicians divide into three groups, moving to various sections of the town, stopping on street corners, under lampposts, to musically announce the Day of Resurrection with chorales such as "Sleepers, Wake!"

It is a tradition as old as Lititz, a town formed by the Moravians in 1756. Like the Christmas Vigils, it is one of those traditions that give character to the community.

About 5:30 a.m. the musicians return to the Church for an interval of rest before the 6:15 a.m. Sunrise Service. This service begins with a brief liturgy in the Church, but soon the doors from the sanctuary are opened, and the congregants stream outside where they hear the Trombone Choir playing the joyful "Jesus Christ is Risen Today."

The Trombone Choir then separates into two parts with half leading the way to "God’s Acre," and the other half at the end of the procession. The two groups play antiphonally the chorale "Lord of Life" as the worshipers walk to the cemetery.

Gathering around the graves of Moravian brothers and sisters as the sun rises, the liturgy continues with the reading of the names of recently deceased members who have joined the Church Triumphant. The worshipers rejoice that Christ lives and that death has no power. The service concludes with the stirring Moravian hymn, "Sing Hallelujah, Praise the Lord."

Moravian sunrise services were initiated in 1732 when the young men of Herrnhut, Germany gathered in the cemetery on the hill overlooking their community. The next year the service was held for the entire congregation.

After the Sunrise Service in Lititz, the youth of the congregation serve breakfast in the social hall. All are welcome to attend.

Lititz Moravian is located at 8 Church Square, along the 200 block of East Main Street. Off-street parking is available behind the church and at the Pierson playground off of South Cedar Street. The sanctuary and adjoining facilities are handicap-accessible.

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