Home A SERVICE OF WORSHIP FOR PASSION/PALM SUNDAY

A SERVICE OF WORSHIP FOR PASSION/PALM SUNDAY

This service embodies the sharp contrasts of Holy Week. In the Entrance with the Palms we experience the joyous demonstration of loyalty to Jesus as he enters Jerusalem, including festive Palm Sunday music.

In the Proclamation and Response we confront and respond to the story of Jesus' passion, including somber Passion Sunday music.

It is important not to let the celebration of Palm Sunday crowd out the observance of Passion Sunday. The passion narratives in Scripture are highly unified and dramatic, and we need to experience the story in its wholeness before we reflect at greater length on its various parts during the following weekdays.

We need also to remember that many persons who attend on Passion/Palm Sunday will not be in church again until Easter Day. Going directly from the lesser joy of the entry into Jerusalem to the joy of Easter, without being addressed by the passion and the cross of our Lord, misrepresents the gospel. There is no triumph without suffering, no crown without a cross.

Because so much of significance is in this service, and because this day and all of Holy Week are preliminary to the supreme joy of Easter, this day is unsuitable for celebrating baptism, confirmation, or the reception of new members. Baptisms and confirmations at this time of year are most appropriately held during the Easter Season—the Great Fifty Days from the Easter Vigil through the Day of Pentecost.

ENTRANCE WITH THE PALMS

GATHERING

When circumstances permit, the congregation may gather at a designated place outside the church building or in a room other than the place of worship. The branches of palm, olive, or other trees or shrubs to be carried in the procession may be distributed to the people, and a brief introduction to the whole service may be given. Palm leaves may be saved until the following year and burned to provide ashes for Ash Wednesday.

PROCLAMATION OF THE ENTRANCE INTO JERUSALEM *

Hear from the Gospel according to ——
how our Lord Jesus entered Jerusalem.

One of the following is read:

Matthew 21:1 –11 (Year A)
Mark 11:1 –11 (Year B)
Luke 19:28 –40 (Year C)

THE PEOPLE'S RESPONSE *

Psalm 118:1–2, 19–29 (UMH 839) may be sung or spoken by the leader and the congregation, or by the leader and the choir if the congregation does not have access to hymnals; or the following acclamation may be used:

Hosanna to the Son of David!
Hosanna in the highest!

Blessed is the One who comes in the name of the Lord.

Hosanna in the highest!

PROCESSIONAL HYMN *

The congregation, choir(s), and leaders then process into the place of worship. The participation of children is especially effective and encouraged even if the whole congregation does not process. Suggested from UMH:

280

All Glory, Laud, and Honor

213 List Up Your Heads, Ye Mighty Gates

278

Hosanna, Loud Hosanna

279 Mantos y Palmas (Filled with Excitement)

161 Rejoice, Ye Pure in Heart

[OPENING PRAYER]

Almighty God,
on this day your Son Jesus Christ entered the holy city of Jerusalem
and was proclaimed King
by those who spread their garments and palm branches along his way.
Let those branches be for us signs of his victory,
and grant that we who bear them in his name
may ever hail him as our Lord,
and follow him in the way that leads to eternal life.
In his name we pray. Amen.

PROCLAMATION AND RESPONSE

PRAYER FOR ILLUMINATION* See Passion/Palm Sunday (UMH 281).

SCRIPTURE LESSON Isaiah 50:4 –9a

PSALM 31:1–16 (UMH 764)

SCRIPTURE LESSON Philippians 2:5 –11

This scripture may be sung as a canticle (UMH 167) or as a hymn, All Praise to Thee, for Thou, O King Divine (UMH 166), omitting the alleluia refrain. If it is sung, both the preceding psalm and the following hymn may be omitted.

HYMN * The people may sing one of the following in UMH:

168

At the Name of Jesus

193 Jesus! the Name High over All

692

Creator of the Stars of Night

536 Precious Name

177

He Is Lord

PROCLAMATION OF THE PASSION STORY

Matthew 26:14–27:66 or Matthew 27:11–54 (Year A)
Mark 14:1–15:47 or Mark 15:1 –39 [40–47] (Year B)
Luke 22:14–23:56 or Luke 23:1–49 (Year C)

Several possibilities will allow the congregation to experience the whole passion story in this service:

1) One of the above versions of the passion story may be read dramatically, with members of the congregation taking the various roles: the narrator, Jesus, Pilate, the apostles, other characters, and the crowd. As few as three persons can do this if all the voices except the narrator and Jesus are spoken by one person. If members of the congregation are provided a text or proper cues, they may take the role of the crowd, or the choir may take this role. The passion narratives are printed in a format suited for dramatic reading in various publications.

2) The passion narrative may also be sung by the choir. Although settings such as Bach's would be far too long, many shorter choral settings are available. Selections from the larger works may be woven together with dramatized readings as well. Advance planning, rehearsal, and wise choice in the level of difficulty of the music are essential. Something simple, done well, is better than something beyond the capacity of the choir.

3) A lessons–and–hymns pattern similar to the lessons–and–carols pattern for an Advent or a Christmas service may be used. Segments of Scripture are read, most effectively by several readers, interspersed with passion hymns and possibly accompanied by mime. This pattern begins with the scripture lessons from Isaiah and Philippians above and continues with the passion narrative, divided into shorter readings as indicated below and interspersed with hymns. Readings from the Gospel of John, which are suitable any year, provide an alternative to the passion narrative suggested by the lectionary for the current year. If you use John’s gospel, whether today or on Good Friday, it is recommended that you use the version contained in the Service of Tenebrae (United Methodist Book of Worship 354 ff.) or the Contemporary English Bible, as both more accurately translate the references to Jewish people.

A Service of Lessons and Hymns

Matthew 26:14 –29; Mark 14:1 –25; or Luke 22:14 –23

Suggested hymns from UMH:

628

Eat This Bread

584

Lord, You Give the Great Commission

(stanza 3)

84

Thank You, Lord

614–15

For the Bread Which You Have Broken (stanzas 1, 2)

See also:

Tino Tenda Jesu (Thank You, Jesus) (Hymn 203)

Matthew 26:30 –56; Mark 14:26 –50; Luke 22:31 –53; or Readings 1–2 (355–56)

Suggested hymns from UMH:

290

Go to Dark Gethsemane (stanza 1)

371

I Stand Amazed in the Presence (stanzas 1, 2; add stanza 3 with Luke)

Matthew 26:57 –75; Mark 14:53 –72; Luke 22:54 –62; or Readings 3–4 (356)

Suggested hymns from UMH:

289 Ah, Holy Jesus (stanzas 1, 2) 292 What Wondrous Love Is This

Matthew 27:1 –23, 26–30; Mark 15:1 –19; Luke 22:63 –23:25; or Readings 5–8 (357–58)

Suggested hymns from UMH:

290

Go to Dark Gethsemane (stanza 2)

285

To Mock Your Reign, O Dearest Lord (except with Luke

286

O Scared Head, Now Wounded (except with Luke)

292

What Wondrous Love Is This (stanzas 1, 2)

Matthew 27:31 –50; Mark 15:20 –37; Luke 23:26 –46; or Readings 9–11 (358–59)

Suggested hymns from UMH:

294

Alas! and Did My Savior Bleed" (stanzas 1, 3)

584

Lord, You Give the Great Commission (stanza 4 with Luke)

530

Are Ye Able (with Luke)

424

Must Jesus Bear the Cross Alone (stanzas 1, 3)

527

Do, Lord, Remember Me (with Luke)

425

O Crucified Redeemer

291

He never Said a Mubalin' Word (stanzas 1, 2, 5)

287

O Love Divine, What Hast Thou Done

488

Jesus, Remember Me (with Luke)

491

Remember Me (with Luke)

282

'Tis Finished! The Messiah Dies

288

Were You There (stanzas 1, 4)

Matthew 27:51 –66; Mark 15:38 –47; Luke 23:47 –56; or Readings 12–16 (359–61)

Suggested hymns from UMH:

359

Alas! and Did My Savior

Bleed (stanzas 1, 2)

282

'Tis Finished! The Messiah Dies (stanzas 2, 4)

297

Beneath the Cross of Jesus

288

Were You There (stanza 5)

301

Jesus, Keep Me Near the Cross

292

What Wondrous Love Is This

504

The Old Rugged Cross

298-99

When I Survey the Wondrous Cross

[SERMON]

The Proclamation of the Passion Story may take the place of a sermon, but situations may arise that call for preaching a sermon and shortening the reading of the passion story to the selected portion on which the sermon is based. If this is done, it is strongly urged that the other portions of the story be read at some later time(s) in Holy Week.

RESPONSE TO THE PROCLAMATION

CONCERNS AND PRAYERS

[CONFESSION AND PARDON]

If expression of confession and pardon has not been adequately included in the hymns previously sung, it may be included here.

THE PEACE *

OFFERING

THANKSGIVING AND COMMUNION

If Holy Communion is not celebrated, the service continues with a Prayer of Thanksgiving and the Lord's Prayer.

If Holy Communion is to be celebrated, the congregation may be invited immediately after the Concerns and Prayers to turn for the rest of the service to A Service of Word and Table IV (UMH ). Or the service may continue as given above through the Offering, during which the bread and wine are brought by representatives of the people to the Lord's table with the other gifts or uncovered if already in place. After the offering, the congregation may be invited to turn to A Service of Word and Table III (UMH) or one of the musical settings in UMH, the pastor praying The Great Thanksgiving.

In any event, the service concludes as follows:

SENDING FORTH


HYMN * See suggestions above.

DISMISSAL WITH BLESSING *

GOING FORTH *

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Copyright: “A Service of Worship for Passion/Palm Sunday” Copyright © 1979, 1986 by Abingdon Press; Copyright © 1992 UMPH. Opening Prayer from The Book of Common Prayer (The Episcopal Church, 1979), p. 271. Public Domain.

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