Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Palm Sunday

Welcome to my blog post.  What you are reading is an online adaptation of what I write in the weekly bulletin at church.  (For more about me and the church I serve, see the widget on the side of the page or go to the St. Mary's homepage.)

My goal in writing this weekly column is twofold: 

1. To highlight the connection between the readings of the day and the music that will be sung at St. Mary's.

2. To enhance your "take-away" from liturgy by encouraging you to to preview and ponder the week’s readings before attending liturgy.

“I tell you, if they keep silent
the very stones will cry out.
                                               Luke 19:40

Today, Christians around the world observe Palm Sunday, the day commemorating Jesus’ passion and death. 

One of the unique parts of the Palm Sunday liturgy is the proclamation of Luke's account of Jesus' entry into Jerusalem.  (Luke 19:28-40)   This additional proclamation of the gospel provides the historic basis for why we receive and raise our palm branches at the beginning of the liturgy. Click on the following link to see all of today's scripture. 

Our prelude, (He Is Exalted) entrance hymn (The Children of Jerusalem) and singing of the Gloria underscore Jesus' triumphant entry into Jerusalem.

The tenor of the music quickly changes in Psalm 22 which foretell the words of Our Savior on the cross: "My God, My God, Oh why have you abandoned me?"

We then we hear the remainder of the story of Jesus’ passion, beginning with the agony in the garden and ending with His burial in the tomb.  During this second gospel passage we will intersperse the spiritual "Were You There When They Crucified My Lord?"

Our participation in this yearly ritual affirms our “yes” to the question of the song.  

We are the crowd that greets Jesus with shouts of "Hosanna" and "Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord." 

We also the ones who say "Crucify Him" as we affirm that Christ died for our sinfulness.

The offertory and communion song will vary depending on which liturgy you attend. You may hear Twila Paris' "How Beautiful." (You are hearing the composer as you open this blog.) 

You might also hear Gilbert M. Martin’s arrangement of Lowell Mason’s hymn "When I Survey the Wondrous Cross" or even Andrew Lloyd Webber's Pie Jesu. 

My goal in picking this music is to capture the pathos of Our Lord’s crucifixion and to follow His command to we His disciples not be silent. 


It is wonderful that many Christians feel moved to return to church on Palm Sunday.

My prayer is that:
  • those who return will be made to feel welcome 
  • those who attend will be moved 
  • all will be inspired to return on the Triduum 
Liturgy times at St. Mary's Nutley

Blessed to be serving at St. Mary's, 


Palm Sunday Music at St. Mary's 

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