This missive came from the diocesan liturgy office a few days ago:
The Easter Vigil will be celebrated on Saturday evening, April 3. The Roman Missal states that the Easter Vigil is to take place in darkness, after nightfall. The Bishops’ Committee on the Liturgy in 2003, interpreted that time as 45 minutes to an hour after sunset. According to the Naval Observatory, sunset occurs on April 3, 2010, at 7:30 p.m. Daylight Time. Therefore, the earliest starting time for the vigil in the Archdiocese of Dubuque this year is 8:15 p.m.
Twenty, thirty years ago, I’d say there were a number of parishes that scheduled the Easter Vigil pretty much as they saw fit. In one parish in my hometown, the pastor celebrated two: one in Spanish and another in English for his two sets of parishioners. The former always started at 4:30; the latter at 7:30.
Sitting the purple chair, which camp do you favor?
1. Follow liturgical law, but still go as early as astronomically possible.
2. Follow liturgical law, but set the same time at or a bit past nightfall every year, so as to develop continuity.
3. Interpret nightfall as sunset, because people don’t like to stay up late, especially if the RCIA director insists on that party.
4. Who cares? Start at 5PM, use three readings and lock down the church before sunset.