Easter Day worship in Prague and Brno

My pottery paten and chalice that I use for celebrating the Eucharist in Brno © Ricky Yates

When I was Rector of the Shelswell Group of Parishes in North Oxfordshire, quite frequently on Sundays, I would officiate at three services during the day – and occasionally at four. Certainly on Easter Day, I would always celebrate the Eucharist three times during the morning, in three different Churches, at 08.00, 09.15 and 10.45.

One of the joys of being the Anglican Chaplain in Prague, is normally only having one service to take each Sunday. And because our Ceskobratrské Církve Evangelické host congregation meets for worship at 09.30 each Sunday, our Sung Eucharist cannot begin until 11.00.

However, having held the first ever English-language service of Lessons and Carols in Brno last December, since the New Year, I am now travelling there to officiate at 18.00 in the evening on the second Sunday of each month.  My aim is to establish a satellite congregation in Brno, thus providing a second place of English-speaking Anglican worship in the Czech Republic.

On most Sundays, our Czech hosts in Prague, finish their service at about 10.30 which gives us a full thirty minutes to set up to begin our worship at 11.00. Being partly Presbyterian, they do not have Communion that often. But when they do have Communion, their service is nearly always fifteen minutes longer. And on Easter Day they do, of course, have Communion. Thus last Sunday, we had to wait outside until nearly 10.45, until we could gain access to the Church building.

This was my fourth Easter in Prague so I knew to expect many visitors in the congregation. And whilst a small number of the regular congregation are away from Prague at Easter, we lose far fewer than we do at Christmas or during July and August. However Easter Day 2012, not only saw a very good turnout of the regular congregation including several ‘lost sheep’ who we hadn’t seen for some time, but also a very large number of visitors. According to Honza, who went up to the balcony and counted, we were 90 adults and 22 children. The congregation was therefore bigger than any in the whole of 2011.

As on most Sundays, there were double figure nationalities present. We had a large number of American visitors and a smaller numbers of Brits. But we also had two visitors from Denmark, another from Malta and a young Ghanaian couple who told me they had travelled in from Hradec Kralové, 120 km outside Prague, in order to attend Easter Day worship.

We celebrated Christ’s triumph over sin and death in liturgy and song, making an extremely ‘joyful noise’ as our worship culminated in singing ‘Thine be the glory’ to the wonderful Handel tune ‘Maccabaeus’. As in previous years, this was the second time on Easter morning that the Church walls had resounded to the tune as our host congregation ended their worship with the self-same hymn sung in Czech.

After the service, as I and Gordon the Church Treasurer, together with David, another member of the Church Council, exited the vestry and locked up the Church, we once more experienced the peculiarities of the weather of recent months when we were greeted by a snow shower. So none of the three of us could resist starting to sing, “I’m dreaming of a white Easter” as we made our way across the road for Coffee Hour.

Then for me, it was back to my Oxfordshire days as I set off for my second service of Easter Day. But instead of hopping in the car for a ten minute drive to the next village, it was a three-stop journey on the tram, followed by a two hours and forty minute journey on the 14.42 Prague-Brno train, followed by a short walk to the little Czechoslovak Hussite Church which we are currently using for worship in Brno.

There was a great contrast to our worship in Prague in the morning. But as twelve of us gathered to celebrate the Eucharist on Easter Sunday evening, the worship was just as meaningful. Only one person present was a visitor, a British lady who comes to Brno at least three times a year to visit a close relative. The rest were English-speakers currently resident in Brno who I trust and pray will help form a new worshipping community in the second city of the Czech Republic.

Whilst it is feasible to return to Prague on the last train of the evening, as on my previous visit, I decided to stay overnight and travel back the next day. It makes the trip less tiring and gives more opportunity to talk with people after the service. And in this amazing small world, through the publicity put out by the Brno Expat Centre about our monthly services, I’ve reconnected with a young lady called Lynsey who I first met fourteen years ago with her parents on a French camp-site. Lynsey and her partner Johnny have recently moved to Brno to work for Monster, an online recruitment agency who have established their main European base in Brno. So I had the privilege of being the first guest to sleep on their newly purchased sofa bed on Easter Sunday night.

The Prague-Brno-Vienna train awaits departure © Ricky Yates

15 comments to Easter Day worship in Prague and Brno

  • Karin Shepherd

    A belated Happy Easter, Ricky! What an interesting and busy life you lead, and well worth the effort!

    I attended St. Joseph’s Catholic Church with my daughter and family. They are a big church with about 4 Easter services and a vigil the night before.

    I heard it was very cold over Easter…for you in Prague. Here, in Portland Oregon, it was a nice warmish spring day. It is raining at the moment, but doors open.

    All the best,

    • Ricky

      Hi Karin – Thank you for your Easter greetings. Yes, it was cold over Easter. As well as the snow shower I mentioned in the blogpost, there was another much heavier snow shower in Ceska Trebova as I passed through on the train to Brno.

  • Glad to be the Maltese visitor (even though I actually live in Denmark now).

    Thanks for the service. It was great to be able to participate in an Easter service I could follow and feel part of!

    • Ricky

      Hi Ann – Thank you for being our Maltese visitor 🙂 It was lovely to have you & Michael with us on Easter Day. As I said in reply earlier, the form of service would be familiar to you and of course, in English! So glad to know you felt part of our worship. Come again when you’re next in Prague!

  • So glad my dear friends made it to your service. Congratulations on the terrific numbers. Happy belated Easter!

    • Ricky

      Thank you Karen -Yes both Ann & Michael made it to St. Clement’s on Easter Day. Thank you for encouraging them to do so!

  • I’m so glad you had such a satisfying Easter Day, Ricky. I’m not at all surprised about the snow shower as I’ve read recently that we are more likely to have a white Easter than a white Christmas in the UK nowadays. 🙂 After Sunday worship in the Church of Scotland, I travelled 50 miles each way with 3 friends to attend an Easter Eucharist at Kinlochbervie on the west coast, followed by an ample tea. Great fun!

    • Ricky

      Hello Perpetua – I’d heard many years ago, that a white Easter was statically more likely in the UK than a white Christmas. After all, my first degree is in geography 🙂 But on Good Friday, our organist Michal Novenko told me a simple Czech weather saying – ‘Cold Christmas – mild Easter. Mild Christmas – cold Easter’. We had a mild Christmas – need I say more.

  • Katka

    “The rest were English-speakers currently resident in Prague who I trust and pray will help form a new worshipping community in the second city of the Czech Republic.”

    … are you sure these people who you hope will form this community are indeed PRAGUE residents? 😉

    • Ricky

      Oh dear Katka – Mea culpa, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa! My geographical mistake has been duly corrected.

  • A Belated Happy Easter to you!

    I’m glad all went well with your Easter services and you got a good turn out, “lost sheep” included!

    Hit it, Bing! “And may all your Easter day’s be white….” LOL!

    I’ll be posting my own Easter experiences on my blog soon, but unfortunately I’ll be like a week and several days behind! Oh, well 🙂

  • phil and lenka

    Hi Ricky, I was very interested to read your plans for services in Brno, I only wish I had read your blog before visiting at Easter or you would have had two more at the service! Anyway I am sure there will be another opportunity as we migrate in a slow but steady way to that part of the world. Best wishes, Phil & Lenka.

    • Ricky

      Hi Phil & Lenka – how lovely to hear from you again. What a pity you didn’t know about our Easter Day worship in Brno. I would have loved to have you both in the congregation. For future reference, I’m officiating at an evening service in Brno on the second Sunday of each month so the next ones are 13th May, 10th June and 8th July. You can always check here which is regularly updated.

      For anyone reading this reply, the couple making the comment feature earlier on this blog http://rickyyates.com/an-english-%E2%80%93-czech-wedding-in-moravia/

  • […] Despite all of this, I do still make mistakes, spelling, grammatical and factual. So I am always grateful when someone picks this up and points out the error of my ways. Thank you Tim, for the correction of my spelling. Thank you Sean, for pointing out that I had Jan Hus born in the incorrect part of Bohemia. And thank you Katka, for spotting my more recent mistake, in writing ‘Prague’ when I clearly meant to write ‘Brno’. […]