A Palm Sunday Near You

Videos and service leaflets are beginning to appear across the Internet from last Sunday’s Palm Sunday Services.

At Notre Dame de Paris, the entrance rite begins with the bishop knocking at the Cathedral’s front doors with his crosier as the choir responds with acclamations from Psalm 23. After the third set of knocking, the great doors are opened, accompanied by a stunning improvisation played by Olivier Latry. The first Gospel reading is proclaimed as the deacon stands over the baptismal font – a very powerful use of symbol. A full service bulletin (in .pdf format) is available here.

At Trinity Wall Street (Episcopal) in New York City, the liturgy began at nearby St. Paul’s Chapel with the blessing of palms and processed down Broadway to Trinity Church. The reading of the Passion was chanted in a stunning improvisational style by members of The Choir of Trinity Wall Street.  A full service bulletin (in .pdf format) is available here.

Do you know of any other good examples of Palm Sunday liturgies out there? Did you do anything unique in your parish? We’d love to hear about it in the comments!

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12 comments

  1. The video from Notre Dame reminds me of how well the French do liturgy, when they do it well. What always impresses me is how they can convey mystery and grandeur without simply repristinating pre-conciliar practices.

  2. After the Procession and opening prayer, the service went straight to the Passion, skipping the other readings!

    Is this a Pope Francis looking at his watch effect?

    I thought it was possible to abbreviate the Passion? However if there is that option I don’t think it was taken. The parish does not provide texts of the readings.

    Personally I would rather not had the other readings skipped, but I am willing to go along with pastoral discretion on this one.

    Maybe rubrics are out and pastoral adaption is in

    1. @Jack Rakosky – comment #2:
      Jack – watch it again. All the readings, responsorial psalm were there.

      Beautiful – thanks for posting. It has been quite a few years since I had the opportunity to process down the cathedral – it is a very long walk. Like the palms – not the cheap, flat, plastic US version.

      If only our parish experience had been 10% of this.

      1. @Bill deHaas – comment #4:

        Sorry Bill that I did not make it clear that this is what happened at a local parish. I was responding to the question “Did you do anything unique in your parish?”

  3. Starting in the 1940s, Msgr. Martin Hellriegel had a flair for the dramatic including riding on a donkey in the Palm Sunday procession that stretched a whole city block.

  4. How I would love to get on the next flight to Paris! Notre Dame’s Palm Sunday solemn entrance was magnificent! What a great setting of Psalm 24 (23). And what joy there was in Latry’s improvisation.

    I thought it interesting that Luke 24:42 was used as an invariable antiphon throughout the Lucan Passion. But I wondered why they did not use the Taizé chant, only to discover that there is no (singing) French translation for that one! For the Johannine passion on Good Friday, it appears from the program that the text will be recited, and that the first line will change each time, reflecting the portion of the passion that was just proclaimed.

    The Liturgy of the Hours has a prominent place in Notre Dame’s liturgies of Holy Week and the Triduum. I wonder how many Parisian parishes follow the cathedral’s lead?

  5. The Gradual sung at the entrance incensation at Notre Dame? A striking choice. It reminds me of our ordinary’s wonderful sermon about the juxtaposition of acclamations through this liturgy, and the etymology of Hosanna.

    I’m thinking that it might be nice to do this fantastic Gradual in place of the Gospel Acclamation for Palm Sunday 2014.

  6. In our parish, we cancelled worship. We were in the midst of a nasty storm — 9 inches of snow being blown around by 25mph winds. The state highway department urged everyone to stay off the roads unless it was an absolute emergency. Even for them it was pretty nasty, as a couple of snowplows ended up stuck in ditches.

    As a result, preparing for Maundy Thursday feels a bit odd. Some of our parish worship committee members are going to take the unused palms and decorate the narthex with them, as a way of bringing a little Palm Sunday into the thinking of people as they arrive on Thursday evening.

    [In my 23 years of ordained ministry, the only other time I’ve had to cancel worship because of weather was Christmas Eve 2009, when an ice storm came through KC at about 4pm. Truly nasty weather that day, too.]

  7. @Peter Rehwaldt – comment #8:

    Why not begin the Holy Thursday service with the Palm Sunday procession? It might be interesting to experience Holy Thursday more in the light of Palm Sunday since Holy Thursday is usually experienced more in light of the Passion.

    I happen to like all the Palm Sunday Processional Music and often play my extensive collection on the mornings of Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday of Holy Week as a form of Lauds.

    1. @Jack Rakosky – comment #9:
      I thought about that, and we Lutherans have much more freedom for local adaptation than Roman Catholics, but it would send some very odd mixed messages.

      In the Lutheran rite, Maundy Thursday begins with a rite of corporate confession. This includes silence for reflection and self-examination, and ends with individuals coming forward for laying on of hands and absolution — thus tying in with the Imposition of Ashes from Ash Wednesday. The entrance procession that precedes this is therefore quite simple and austere, with the liturgical leaders entering in silence and taking their places.

      To begin with loud “Hosannas” and singing “All Glory, Laud, and Honor”, and then try to switch immediately into a contemplative mode for confession and absolution seems like a recipe for liturgical whiplash.

      Instead, I think I’ll introduce things by saying something like “On most Maundy Thursdays, we come with echoes of Palm Sunday still ringing in our ears. This year, however, we were not there in Jerusalem with our palm branches and songs — we simply heard about the celebration from others.”

      Or something like that.

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