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.
Below are the collect and scripture readings for Holy Saturday. You can also read the lectionary for the Great Vigil of Easter, which spans the creation of the universe to the resurrection, here.
O God, Creator of heaven and earth: Grant that, as the crucified body of your dear Son was laid in the tomb and rested on this holy Sabbath, so we may await with him the coming of the third day, and rise with him to newness of life; who now lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
“Almighty God, we pray you graciously to behold this your family, for whom our Lord Jesus Christ was willing to be betrayed, and given into the hands of sinners, and to suffer death upon the cross; who now lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.” – The Book of Common Prayer
Almighty Father, whose dear Son, on the night before he suffered, instituted the Sacrament of his Body and Blood: Mercifully grant that we may receive it thankfully in remembrance of Jesus Christ our Lord, who in these holy mysteries gives us a pledge of eternal life; and who now lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen. – Book of Common Prayer, page 221
Lord God, whose blessed Son our Savior gave his body to be whipped and his face to be spit upon: Give us grace to accept joyfully the sufferings of the present time, confident of the glory that shall be revealed; through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen. – Book of Common Prayer, page 220
O God, by the passion of your blessed Son you made an instrument of shameful death to be for us the means of life: Grant us so to glory in the cross of Christ, that we may gladly suffer shame and loss for the sake of your Son our Savior Jesus Christ; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen. –Book of Common Prayer, page 220
Almighty God, whose most dear Son went not up to joy but first he suffered pain, and entered not into glory before he was crucified: Mercifully grant that we, walking in the way of the cross, may find it none other than the way of life and peace; through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen. –Book of Common Prayer, page 220
It is right to praise you, Almighty God, for the acts of love by which you have redeemed us through your Son Jesus Christ our Lord. On this day he entered the holy city of Jerusalem in triumph, and was proclaimed as King of kings by those who spread their garments and branches of palm along his way. Let these branches be for us signs of his victory, and grant that we who bear them in his name may ever hail him as our King, and follow him in the way that leads to eternal life; who lives and reigns in glory with you and the Holy Spirit, now and for ever. Amen. – Book of Common Prayer, Page 271
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!
This week, we will be learning more about Holy Saturday, the day the body of the crucified Jesus lay in the tomb. On Saturday night, Easter Eve, the beginning of the next day for the Jews, Christians celebrate The Great Vigil of Easter, which includes The Lighting of the Paschal Candle, Holy Baptism, and the first Eucharist of Easter. The journey from Crucifixion to Resurrection is made.
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.
The course book, The Last Week, is fascinating; it explores the last week of Jesus using the Gospel according to Mark and other historical sources.
One possibility for you is to buy the book and study it, but a better option is to join a learning group for meaningful and facilitated conversation about Jesus’ last week and the ways we revisit that week through our Holy Week liturgies.
Using the Gospel according to Mark, the authors examine every day from Palm Sunday through Easter Day. Thestudy book is available from Amazon in both paperback and Kindle formats for less than $10. The parish is also placing a bulk order. Register for the course at the main bulletin board OR firstname.lastname@example.org indicate if you need a book.
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”