Holy Week and Easter at the Cathedral

An invitation to expereince Holy Week and Easter at Chelmsford Cathedral from the interim Dean of Chelmsford. 

This is the most important Christian week of the year when we tell the greatest story ever told.

If you take part in the whole week you will enter a centuries’ old mix of readings, prayer, ritual, meditation, music and silence.

Palm Sunday begins as a joyful celebration at 10.30am, but turns rapidly into the story of the Cross. This year a group of actors will give a dramatic reading of St Mark’s version of the Passion story.

‘And all the children in the neighbourhood, even those who are too young to walk, are carried by their parents on their shoulders, all of them bearing branches, some of palms and some of olives, and thus the bishop is escorted in the same manner as the Lord was of old.’

Egeria 4th Century Jerusalem.

Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday prepare those who come for the Great Three Days of Maundy Thursday, Good Friday and Holy Saturday. The atmospheric plainsong of Compline and the dramatic liturgy of Tenebrae, together with guided meditations, focus minds and bodies on what is to come.

‘The priest receives the Gospel, and reads the passage where Judas Iscariot went to the Jews and stated what they should give him that he should betray the Lord. And when the passage has been read, there is such a moaning and groaning of all the people that no one can help being moved to tears at that hour.’

Egeria 4th Century Jerusalem.

Maundy Thursday takes us through the Last Supper, Gethsemane, arrest, imprisonment and on Good Friday we enter the 3 hour crucifixion. It is the time when Christians accompany Jesus in his darkest hours, - the outward expression of personal friendship, devotion and companionship.

‘The emotion shown and the mourning by all the people at every reading and prayer is wonderful; for there is none, either great or small, who, on that day during those three hours, does not lament more than can be conceived, that the Lord had suffered those things for us.’

Egeria 4th Century Jerusalem.

The Great Easter Vigil on Holy Saturday evening is for many Christians around the world the greatest act of worship of the entire year – we gather in darkness to celebrate Christ’s descent into Hell and then cry our first ‘alleluia’ at Christ’s victory over death and the grave. In the words of the 6th Century hymn of praise:

This is the night when Christ broke the prison-bars of death and rose victorious from the grave.

On Sunday morning we gather with Mary Magdalen and the disciples at the empty tomb. In one way it is all over before daybreak – Christ is risen – but in another way, a whole new life has just begun. There is no looking back!

The Very Rev’d Paul Kennington, interim Dean

Find out more about our Holy Week and Easter services on our dedicated web page.

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