Palms and Passion

Sunday, March 25, 2018
The Sunday of the Passion: Palm Sunday

Today marks the beginning of Holy Week. In this morning's liturgy, we literally step into the story of Jesus' triumphal entry into Jerusalem. We wave palm branches and sing "Hosanna to the Son of David." Trumpet fanfares sound, and the mighty organ soars.

The mood then quickly shifts as we join in a dramatic reading of the Passion Gospel. We remember Jesus' final days on earth and his betrayal by his friends. We walk with Jesus to Golgotha and watch him die on the cross.

Episcopalians sing what we believe. Today's Holy Week hymns have lasted for centuries because of their ability to communicate the greatest story ever told in ways that move us beyond words. For many of us, these texts and tunes are deeply embedded in our memory:

All glory, laud, and honor to thee, Redeemer, King! to whom the lips of children their sweet hosannas ring.

Ah, holy foes derided, by thine own rejected, O most afflicted.

Thou didst give thyself for me, now I give myself to thee.

O sacred head sore wounded, defiled and put to scorn...

Alone thou goest forth, O Lord, in sacrifice to die...

The organ postlude is a stirring improvisation on a 13th century plainsong melody, Vexilla Regis prodeunt.

This Holy Week hymn (found in The Hymnal 1982 #162) may be less familiar, but its powerful imagery sets the stage for all that is to follow:

The royal banners forward go,
the cross shines forth in mystic glow
where he through whom our flesh was made,
in that same flesh our ransom paid. 

May that image of the shining cross stay with you as you leave the cathedral today. Continue the journey by joining us for the Triduum - Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, and the Great Vigil of Easter. These liturgies date from the early Church and are central to our Christian faith - the faith through which "a hundred men and women turned the known world upside down."¹

Walk the Way of the Cross. Like those earliest Christians, you will never be the same.

Music for March 25, 2018
Trumpet Fanfare: All glory, laud, and honor
Introit: Hosanna to the Son of David     -Arthur Hutchings
Hymns: 154, 158, 313 (stanza 1), 168, 164
Psalm: Plainsong 
Service Music: S-106, S-130, S-164
God so loved the world     -Bob Chilcott
Anima Christi     -Robert Powell
Voluntary: The Royal Banners Forward Go (Vexilla Regis)  
-setting by Wilbur Held

¹From The Hymnal 1982, Hymn 506, "Praise the Spirit in creation," Words: Michael Hewlett (b. 1916), alt.


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