Sunday, April 1, 2012

Palm Sunday

In England before the Reformation, Palm Sunday was celebrated with a procession from the parish church. As Eamon Duffy notes in The Stripping of the Altars, these processions were one of the most elaborate rituals of the Sarum Use, focused on the Blessed Sacrament and the incarnational celebration of Jesus' entry into Jerusalem. The Christians celebrating that day believed/knew that Jesus was present in the Holy Eucharist, Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity--that He was really there with them as they walked in procession with palms (willow branches) and kissed the ground before Him.

The choirs sang "Gloria, Laus et Honor" (All Glory, Laud and Honor) and after the procession entered the church, the dramatic reading of the St. Matthew's Passion captured the congregation's attention. Duffy notes it was sometimes read from the Rood Loft next to the Crucifixion scene in front and above the Altar, with alternating voices of the Narrator, Jesus, and the other Speakers. The holiest week of the year had begun and the parishioners were prepared to celebrate Tenebrae, the Holy Triduum, and receive Holy Communion on Easter Sunday.

All Glory, Laud, and Honor (translation by John Mason Neale)

Refrain:All glory, laud, and honor,
to thee, Redeemer, King,
to whom the lips of children
made sweet hosannas ring.

1. Thou art the King of Israel,
thou David's royal Son,
who in the Lord's name comest,
the King and Blessed One.

2. The company of angels
are praising thee on high,
and we with all creation
in chorus make reply.

3. The people of the Hebrews
with psalms before thee went;
our prayer and praise and anthems
before thee we present.

4. To thee, before thy passion,
they sang their hymns of praise;
to thee, now high exalted,
our melody we raise.

5. Thou didst accept their praises;
accept the prayers we bring,
who in all good delightest,
thou good and gracious King.

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