Celebrating Palm Sunday with the Book of Common Prayer

palm-sunday-bocpThe Book of Common Prayer is an excellent resource for anyone looking for family devotions for this Passion Week 2015. The Book of Common Prayer dates from 16th century England at the time of King Edward VI, and is the official liturgical book of The Episcopal Church and used throughout the Anglican Communion. It is an ubiquitous publication, that is easily found for a few dollars at any used book store and is available online for free.  It is a resource useful to any pastor, and every pastor should own one. It contains the Church's Calendar, liturgical readings and example prayers and ordinances to conduct ministry in the most common situations. For instance, what should one say when visiting a sick person, or how should a wedding be conducted? The Book of Common Prayer says explicitly. The great value of using such an ancient and widely used book, is to know that when you celebrate this Passion Week, that others around the world will be worshiping in the same way. Other denominations have similar liturgical works, for instance, I have a Book of Common Worship, that is a Presbyterian version of The Book of Common Prayer.

The Book of Common Prayer

The Book of Common Prayer

To inspire you you, I've provided a quotation from The Book of Common Prayer on Palm Sunday. The entry is designed to be a Church Service, with the Eucharist being the Lord's Supper. Read through the responsive readings, or at a minimum one of the scripture readings alone or with your family over a meal. There are similar entries to the following quotation on Palm Sunday for Maunday Thursday, Good Friday, Holy Saturday and the Great Vigil of Easter. Additionally there are various Collects for each of the days of the Passion week besides the official liturgy.

The Sunday of the Passion: Palm Sunday

The Liturgy of the Palms

When circumstances permit, the congregation may gather at a place apart from the church, so that all may go into the church in procession.

The branches of palm or of other trees or shrubs to be carried in the procession may be distributed to the people before the service, or after the prayer of blessing.

The following or some other suitable anthem is sung or said, the people standing

Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord.
Peace in heaven and glory in the highest.

Celebrant: Let us pray.

Assist us mercifully with your help, O Lord God of our salvation, that we may enter with joy upon the contemplation of those mighty acts, whereby you have given us life and immortality; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Here a Deacon or other person appointed reads one of the following

Year A: Matthew 21:1-11
Year B: Mark 11:1-11a
Year C: Luke 19:29-40

The Celebrant then says the following blessing

Celebrant: The Lord be with you.
People: And also with you.
Celebrant: Let us give thanks to the Lord our God.
People: It is right to give him thanks and praise.

It is right to praise you, Almighty God, for the acts of love by which you have redeemed us through your Son Jesus Christ our Lord. On this day he entered the holy city of Jerusalem in triumph, and was proclaimed as King of kings by those who spread their garments and branches of palm along his way. Let these branches be for us signs of his victory, and grant that we who bear them in his name may ever hail him as our King, and follow him in the way that leads to eternal life; who lives and reigns in glory with you and the Holy Spirit, now and for ever. Amen.

The following or some other suitable anthem may then be sung or said

Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord. Hosanna in the highest.

The Procession

Deacon: Let us go forth in peace.
People: In the name of Christ. Amen.

During the procession, all hold branches in their hands, and appropriate hymns, psalms, or anthems are sung, such as the hymn "All glory, laid, and honor" and Psalm 118:19-29.

At a suitable place, the procession may halt while the following or some other appropriate Collect is said

Almighty God, whose most dear Son went not up to joy but first he suffered pain, and entered not into glory before he was crucified: Mercifully grant that we, walking in the way of the cross, may find it none other than the way of life and peace; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

In the absence of a bishop or priest, the preceding service may be led by a deacon or lay reader.

At services on this day other than the principal celebration, suitable portions of the preceding may be used.

At the Eucharist

When the Liturgy of the Palms immediately precedes the Eucharist, the celebration begins with the Salutation and Collect of the Day.

Let us pray.

Almighty and everliving God, in your tender love for the human race you sent your Son our Savior Jesus Christ to take upon him our nature, and to suffer death upon the cross, giving us the example of his great humility: Mercifully grant that we may walk in the way of his suffering, and also share in his resurrection; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Old Testament: Isaiah 45:21-25, or Isaiah 52:13--53:12
Psalm: Psalm 22:1-21, or Psalm 22:1-11
Epistle: Philippians 2:5-11

The Passion Gospel is announced in the following manner

The Passion of our Lord Jesus Christ according to_________

The customary responses before and after the Gospel are omitted.

Year A: Matthew 26:36-27:54,55-66 or Matthew 27:1-54,55-66
Year B: Mark 14:32-15:39,40-47 or Mark 15:1-39,40-47
Year C: Luke 22:39-23:49,50-56 or Luke 23:1-49,50-56

The Passion Gospel may be read or chanted by different persons.Specific roles may be assigned to different persons, the congregation taking the part of the crowd.

The congregation may be seated for the first part of the Passion. At the verse which mentions the arrival at Golgotha (Matthew 27:33, Mark 15:22, Luke 23:33) all stand.

When the Liturgy of the Palms has preceded, the Nicene Creed and the Confession of Sin may be omitted at this service.

Preface of Holy Week

Book of Common Prayer. New York: Church Hymnal Corporation, n.d.
BCPOnline.org. Web. 30 Mar. 2015.

Header Image Source: "Assisi-frescoes-entry-into-jerusalem-pietro lorenzetti" by Pietro lorenzetti - http://www.aiwaz.net/panopticon/lorenzetti-pietro/gc58p0. Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons.

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