Holy Week is the most important time of the Christian year.
The way in which we keep these days has long been a strength
within our parish. The liturgical provision expresses not
only the most fundamental Christian memories and the
climactic events of our Saviour’s passion, death and
resurrection, but also lays out the treasures and rich
insights of a catholic Anglican understanding and
expression. This is a time not to be missed when we recall
who and what we are as the baptised people of God. This is
our opportunity to do all we can to ensure that our Easter
joy is genuine. For posters showing details of all Holy Week
and Easter Services, please go to our Special Services
Coming Up page.
Palm Sunday - 14th
Palm Sunday has a double focus – the Triumphal Entry of
Christ into Jerusalem, and the celebration of his passion
and death. The Liturgy of the Palms and procession
contains the first commemorative actions of Holy Week which
remind us of the main events in the last week of Jesus’
ministry. Palm branches are carried, although they are
secondary to the procession itself. The procession is also
an act of praise to Christ the King who reigns and triumphs
on the cross, and it expresses our own readiness to take up
our cross and follow our crucified and risen Lord, as we go
with him to the place of suffering and death.
The practice of blessing and giving palm crosses is a well
established one with devotional value. However, in the
procession it is not as telling a symbol as the carrying of
branches whether of palm or of other trees, perhaps brought
by members of the congregation.
Central to the Liturgy of the Passion is the reading
of the Passion Gospel. On this day, the narrative comes from
either Matthew, Mark or Luke, and takes us into the heart of
Holy Week. Although the services of this week are shaped by
the historical commemoration of the events of the last week
in Jesus’ earthly life, taken together they form an extended
celebration of the victory he won over death.
The solemn reading of the narrative of the passion and death
of Jesus Christ is an essential part of the liturgy of Palm
Sunday. For this reason the full form of the Passion is
used. Coming after the procession, it reminds us that the
kingly power of Christ is the power of self-giving love
Please note that Mass begins in the Parish Centre at
9.30am from where we process to church around the
perimeter of the church grounds.
Pre Easter Confession
As is our custom at St Matthew’s, especially before the
major festivals, parishioners are given the opportunity to
avail themselves of the sacrament of reconciliation,
otherwise known as confession. The Church of England has in
fact long offered this particular ministry, a basis for
which may be found in the Book of Common Prayer. Essentially
it is our opportunity to address those matters which lie
between us and God, to unburden ourselves, receive God’s
liberating forgiveness, and priestly guidance. A leaflet
will be made available to all worshippers to help us grow in
our understanding, and prepare. Confession times this Holy
Week are as follows:
Monday 15 April at 6.00pm
Wednesday 17 April at 3.00pm
Confessions will be heard in the Lady Chapel, and penitents
are asked to come and go quietly via the north door facing
Collingwood Road, and sit in the body of the church well
away from the Chapel until the coast is clear.
Tenebrae - Wednesday 17
April at 7.30pm
Tenebrae, from the Latin word for ‘darkness’ or ‘shadows’,
is a form of the monastic Office of Vigils, originally
recited at night, combined with that of Lauds, originally
celebrated at dawn. Tenebrae took on a specific and dramatic
form when celebrated on Maundy Thursday, Good Friday and
Holy Saturday. From the medieval period the whole service
was ‘anticipated’ or held on the evenings before the days in
question, beginning on the evening of the Wednesday of Holy
Week. It would be difficult nowadays to celebrate the whole
service on three successive nights. What follows, therefore,
is an adaptation that draws on material from the office of
Tenebrae to build a meditative service around three themes:
the Prayer and Agony of Jesus in Gethsemane, the Trial of
Jesus, and the Death of Jesus.
Tenebrae begins by candlelight and ends in darkness. It is
thus the inverse of the Easter Vigil, which begins in
darkness and blazes into light as a symbol of Christ’s
resurrection. As a service that traditionally accompanies
the last days of Holy Week, Tenebrae is a dark prelude to
the light of Easter, a celebration of Christ’s Passion in
anticipation of his rising from the dead.
The passage from light to darkness is brought about through
the gradual extinguishing of candles at regular points
throughout the service. Fourteen candles positioned along
the central axis of the church building are extinguished one
by one. At the end of the final reading, the fourteenth
candle is put out at the words, ‘And it was night’, and,
simultaneously, the congregation blow out their candles. A
solitary fifteenth candle is left burning, representing the
Light of Christ. This candle is symbolically ‘buried’ by
being hidden behind the High Altar, typifying the apparent
victory of the forces of evil.
The other dramatic feature of Tenebrae is the chanting of
passages from the Book of Lamentations, in which a letter of
the Hebrew alphabet introduces each verse. In the
development of the medieval services, these readings were
‘applied’ as a dramatic commentary on the betrayal, trial
and crucifixion of Jesus. Scripture readings and psalmody
alternate with responsories, which take and juxtapose short
texts to amplify similar themes.
At the very end, a loud noise is made, symbolizing the
earthquake at the time of the resurrection – ‘And suddenly
there was a great earthquake; for an angel of the Lord,
descending from heaven, came and rolled back the stone and
sat on it’ (Matthew 28:2). The hidden candle is then
restored to its place, and by its light, all depart in
This most distinctive act of worship is a wonderful
preparation for the Easter Triduum, the Great Three Days.
Please do come.
Foot Washing - Thursday
18 April at 7.30pm
The Liturgy of the Last Supper on Maundy Thursday evening is
a rollercoaster of emotions and intentions. One of the key
elements is the re-enactment of Christ’s example of humble
service, in washing his disciples’ feet. I invite you to
participate in this part of the liturgy by printing your
name on the sheet provided in the display area. You are
asked to sit on the end of a row adjacent to the centre
aisle; these are indicated by the provision of towels.
Please remember that feet must be bare, so ladies in
particular please come prepared!
All-night Watch at the
Garden of Gethsemane - 18-19 April from c9.00pm
I invite you to help us keep watch with Our Lord in his
sacramental presence on Maundy Thursday night and Good
Friday morning. The Watch takes place in the Lady Chapel and
begins directly after the evening liturgy and continues till
Morning Prayer on Good Friday. Mirroring Jesus’ example, we
ask that you keep watch for one hour by signing your name
against the time slots indicated on the corresponding sheet
in the display area. We also ask that, if possible, at least
TWO people are present at all times, especially during the
‘small’ hours. You are asked to come and go via the north
door facing Collingwood Road. (Please note that, for
security reasons, this door will be locked for some part of
the night, and you will therefore need to knock).
Good Friday – All Age
Stations of the Cross
At 10.30am on 19 April there will be Stations of the Cross
for all ages. This service is a moving and accessible
telling of the events of this most important and difficult
of days. Please do come, and encourage accompanied children
to do likewise.
On Holy Saturday (Easter Eve) we will be cleaning and
preparing our spiritual home for the coming festival.
Morning Prayer is at 9.00am in Quire (ALL are
welcome) and we begin our labours from c.9.20am until
lunchtime. Refreshments will kindly be provided by our
Monday Brownies and Guides. Many hands make light work!
The Easter Vigil and
The Easter (or Paschal) Vigil heralds the resurrection of
our Lord Jesus Christ and the celebration of Easter, the
so-called feast of feasts. Through readings and psalms it
retraces the story of salvation, beginning with Creation,
God’s covenant with Abraham, the escape of the Israelites
through the Red Sea, the centuries of longing for the
promised Messiah foretold by the prophets, and the Easter
Gospel itself. The Easter Vigil is the greatest act of
Christian worship, it tells the story of the greatest event
of the world has ever known.
Sadly, the Vigil is not as well supported as it ought to be.
A vigil is about keeping watch, about expectant waiting and
anticipation. A vigil is supposed to take time. Those who
grumble about its duration (approximately two hours or so)
have rather missed the point. Such an attitude has little to
do with the tenets of the approaching festival. The first
disciples were bleary-eyed on the Resurrection Morning!
There are, of course, legitimate pastoral considerations,
especially for those of riper years, and with this in mind
we have five readings, the minimum required to cover the
great sweep of salvation history. The classical Vigil has
seven readings, and Common Worship has provided a sequence
of readings and psalms to last until dawn! I’m tempted to
say, ‘think yourself lucky’, though that too would be a
spiritual own goal. Seriously, please do come if you
Download the Holy Saturday poster here. Please note that
the Easter Ceremonies begin at 8.00pm.
Bells for use in the
Worshippers are asked to bring any bells they may have for
use in church to herald the resurrection at the Easter Vigil
and during the refrain of the Lourdes Gloria.
Those who make their communion at the Easter Vigil may do so
again at one of the Masses on Easter morning. You will not
be struck by lightning!
Easter bonnets and
On Easter morning while the ladies show off their Easter
bonnets, the gentlemen are encouraged to participate too
with their own splash of yellow… It would be good if we can
express our resurrection joy in this colourful way. Go on,
Download the Easter Day poster here.
Easter Bank Holiday
Please note that, as is our custom, Mass on Monday 22 April
will be at 9.30am.