The History of the Easter Sunrise Service

This year, Bok Tower Gardens will host its 97th Annual Easter Sunrise Service. Despite two years of virtual services, the service remains tje Gardens’ first and oldest tradition. The picture below is from the 1951 service.

From the archives, here is a photo from the service held in 1939.

We do not have a photo from the 1929 service; however, we have a copy of the program.

It is interesting to note the final message on the back of the program, “The public is urged not to crowd around the Tower for recitals. The Carillon is heard best in the further parts of the Sanctuary.” How timely a lesson for 2020. The picture below was taken in 1940 and shows how different the moat looked in the early days of Bok Tower Gardens.

We did a quick internet search to find more information on the Prayer of St. Chrysostom that was listed in the 1929 program.
Almighty God, you have given us grace at this time with one accord to make our common supplication to you; and you have promised through your well-beloved Son that when two or three are gathered together in his Name you will be in the midst of them: Fulfill now, O Lord, our desires and petitions as may be best for us; granting us in this world knowledge of your truth, and in the age to come life everlasting. Amen.

Over the years, the attendance has grown from 150 people in 1927 to more than 2000 – and thankfully now, attendees sit on real chairs rather than on orange crates. The picture below was taken in 1940.

But the purpose of the service remains the same – a community celebration of Easter that combines both the spirit of the holiday and Bok Tower Gardens – with peace, joy, and music.

May these words from “Jesus Christ Is Risen Today” printed in the 1929 program, inspire your Holy Week.
Hymns of praise then let us sing
Unto Christ, our heavenly King,
Who endured the Cross and grave,
Sinners to redeem and save.

This blog post was researched and compiled by the former Library & Archival Collections Manager, Jaime Fogel. A wealth of history, art and culture is available online in the Bok Tower Gardens Digital Collections. To learn more, Bok Tower Gardens Digital Collections.

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