for a schedule of worship services in Holy Week, click here
The days between Palm Sunday and Easter Sunday are laden with emotion—the catch-breath of joy as we celebrate the triumphant entry to Jerusalem; the sorrow and heaviness of the crucifixion; and ending with the bliss of Easter Day. As a church musician, conveying these emotions through music can often prove to be challenging. The task is governed by the balance of musical language and text with listener approachability. At Saint James’, each service will be filled with some of the most poignant pieces of choral literature.
Saint James’ you to attend as many of our Holy Week services as you are able. They dramatically walk us through Jesus’ last days and allow us to more fully enter the story and receive the love poured out for us. The experience of Holy Week also adds to the richness, joy, and bounding hope of Easter.
This service begins our journey toward the cross with Jesus’ triumphant entry into Jerusalem. His entry is celebrated with the waving of palms in procession (at 8am from the back of the church, at 10:15 from in front of the church).
This Sunday is also called Passion Sunday because of the church’s tendency to read the passion and prepare those who will not be able to attend the weekday Holy Week services between this day and Easter Sunday.
However, this year we will again invite you to stay in the moment of Jesus’ triumphant entry and the zealous ministry that challenged the religious leadership then and challenges us today.
Below you will find photos and video of each service in Holy Week, and Scripture readings for each day of the week. We know that Holy Week can be an overwhelming time, with so many services and so many stories packed into such a short time. We hope that you will reflect on each day, and the power of each moment, at your own pace.
Almighty God, who through your only-begotten Son Jesus Christ overcame death and opened to us the gate of everlasting life: Grant that we, who celebrate with joy the day of the Lord’s resurrection, may be raised from the death of sin by your life-giving Spirit; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.
The church invites all Christians to worship soon and often during Holy Week and through Easter Day. This is when we remember and embrace in a dramatic way the journey, death, and resurrection of Jesus.
Palm Sunday: Jesus enters Jerusalem and confronts the domination powers of the Roman Empire and the temple authorities.
Maundy Thursday: Jesus shares the his last meal with the Twelve and washes their feet.
We encourage you to commit to attending as many of our Holy Week worship services as you are able. They dramatically walk us through Jesus’ last days and allow us to more fully enter the story and receive the love poured out for us. The experience of Holy Week also adds to the richness, joy, and bounding hope of Easter.
On Palm Sunday, the service starts outside as the crowd waves palms and processes into the nave
The triumphant procession on Palm Sunday
Maundy Thursday celebrates the "Last Supper," when Jesus ate with his disciples and instituted the Eucharist, the central part of Christian worship. (it's also known as Communion, Mass and The Lord's Supper)
The solemn procession of the bare cross on Good Friday, the day when the liturgy commemorates Jesus' death.
The Great Vigil of Easter, on Holy Saturday, begins in the courtyard, as we contemplate the sorrow and despair Jesus' followers endured after his death.
In the middle of this service, the lights go on and the trumpet's sound out as we celebrate Jesus' triumph over darkness and death. This is probably the most moving few moments of the entire liturgical year.
The Easter Vigil is one of the most powerful times for baptism, as that night is when we pass ritually from death into life through Jesus' resurrection.
The altar is decorated with white vestments and flowers for Easter Sunday, as we celebrate the empty tomb and the hope of new life.
Easter Sunday is the most joyful day of the year, and also the most musical.
Lilies, a sign of new life, on Easter Sunday
The joyful recession at the end of the Easter Sunday service
After the 10:15am service, your kids are invited to the Easter Egg hunt!
Easter Vigil is one of the most beautiful services of the church year as we segue from the reflective and somber atmosphere of Lent into the joy of Easter. The choral anthem for this service, Alleluia, composed by Randall Thompson conveys all the emotions of this holy day.
Thompson, born in 1899 and died in 1984, was an American composer who taught at many prestigious schools, including the University of Virginia (1941-1945), whose compositional style is regarded as “distinctly American”. Alleluia was composed in five days with the text being two words: “Alleluia, Amen”-with the latter being sung once at the final chord which spreads the choir into seven parts. This composition was a reaction to the war, especially the fall of France.
In the past seven weeks we have been building toward the Easter story and all that led to Jesus’ arrest, death, and resurrection. So this week, we will pick up where we left off. It was a very sad time for Jesus’ disciples after he died on the cross. It seemed like all their work and effort had come to an end. The man they believed in and had expected to restore God’s Kingdom again in Israel was now dead and buried. What were they going to do? Then the excitement of the news of the resurrection came! Continue reading “What Your Children Learned: April 3”
Come celebrate Easter Day with us! Having completed our journey and walked through the sorrow of Holy Week, we now come ready to experience Easter joy.
Our 10:15 service begins with the children flowering the cross and following behind it in procession. The joyful music fills the space as we tell the story of the empty tomb and the reverberations of that moment throughout history and in our lives. Following the service our children will continue the celebration as they search for Easter eggs.
Possibly the most beautiful service of the church year, the Easter Vigil begins outside in our courtyard with the kindling of a fire from which the paschal candle is lit. From that candle each person lights their candle as the service begins in darkness. While still in the tomb we read of God’s saving work throughout history.
We then enter the sacrament of baptism and as we are pulled from that watery grave, we reign in Easter with the setting and adornment of the altar, lighting the altar candles, organ fanfare, and illuminating the worship area before we celebrate that first Easter Eucharist. The service actually takes us from death to new life and we really experience that Easter moment.
Good Friday | Stations of the Cross, 12pm | Good Friday Liturgy, 7pm
At noon we gather in the nave and tell the story of Christ’s crucifixion as an acolyte moves from station to station as we read and respond to each event. The readings for each station are distributed to members of the congregation prior to the beginning of the service.
Eucharist with foot washing and the stripping of the altar.
There is heaviness in the air as Jesus gathers his closest friends with the knowledge this will be the last meal they will share together on this side of the grave. We also remember that on this night Jesus washed his friends feet and to illustrate his new commandment that we love one another the way that he had loved them. Then after we break bread together for the last time before Easter, we acknowledge Christ’s impending death by stripping the altar and departing in silence. Continue reading “Holy Week | Worship Services”
Last week, we introduced Mildred Grace Street (1880-1956), chorister at Saint James’ Church for 28 years, and her husband, T. “Willie” Street, organist. As a team, Mr. and Mrs. Street were very much a part of the Saint James’ family, dedicating their lives by glorifying God through musical talent.
Mildred was also a gifted poet; her love of nature, the good earth, and her faith are reflected in her verse.