Rita’s Reward, “Virgil and the Vigil”

We at PrayTell are happy to share Rita Ferrone with the Commonweal blog. And we’re very happy to congratulate her for the Award of Merit (second place) in the category “seasonal article” from the Associated Church Press. It’s for her article, “Virgil & the Vigil: The Bees Are Back in the Exsultet,” published in Commonweal  April 10, 2009. The judge wrote, “Readers will more intelligently and more fully worship for reading the article. The research is good. The transitions are good. The tone is right.” We agree! Check it out.

Very soon, we hope, we’ll have the proper texts of the new English missal from Rome, including the newly translated Exsultet. Reports are that the Exsultet is a real gem. We’ll look forward to Rita’s comments on it.


  1. My first encounter with the bees came with the publication of Roc O’Connor’s fantastic setting of the Exsultet “Let the Powers of Heaven Exult” from OCP in the early 1990s. Since then, I’ve discovered that Nashota House Episcopal Seminary had reinserted the bees into their plainsong setting of the BCP Exultet in the early 1980s. While I find them a bit annoying up-close-and-personal, I find the presence of bees in the Paschal Praises to be delightful.

    Congratulations to Rita on her award-winning article: very well deserved indeed! And I note at the bottom of the post reference to a forthcoming book on the Vigil — truly something for which to look forward!

  2. Congrats Rita for the well written work!

    I’m glad you’ve brought the bees back into the spotlight. The reintroduction of “obscurities” in the Missal offers solid homiletic material. Maybe some preachers will cite your article and integrate the apiary imagery into their homilies.

  3. Thank you, Cody, Chase, and Jordan. (Chase, you have my admiration!)

    Jordan, shortly after the piece came out someone did preach an Easter Vigil homily using it (I saw it on the internet, but didn’t keep the link). Deacons have given it a good reception too. But I’m content just to know that it adds in some way to our delight in the Vigil, and to our appreciation of holy things.

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