Holy Week is one of the busiest times of year for the cathedral and choir. Below is a guide to the services taking place during this important time. A list of these services can also be downloaded by CLICKING HERE and a list of the music being sung at each service is available HERE.
Palm Sunday 14 April: Cathedral Eucharist and Procession, 9.45am
The Cathedral Eucharist recalls the triumphal entry of Jesus into Jerusalem with the blessing of palms and a procession into and around the Cathedral. The Cathedral Choir will sing an introit from outside the Great West Doors and a cantor will continue the tradition here at Wells of responding through the ancient singing holes behind the West Front (at 9.45am). As the service unfolds, the Cathedral Choir sings the story of Christ’s Passion and Death as it will be told throughout Holy Week. The beginning of Christ’s journey is the beginning of our journey too as we seek to make sense of the momentous events of Holy Week which have shaped the world.
Palm Sunday 14 April: An English Passion by Philip Wilby (first performance), 3.00pm
A devotional and dramatic performance of Philip Wilby’s passion according to Saint Matthew, sung by the Great Choir. All are invited. There will be a retiring collection following this event.
Maundy Thursday 18 April: The Eucharist of the Last Supper and the Watch, 7.30pm
As evening gathers in the Cathedral, the Last Supper and Jesus’ gift of himself are remembered in the Eucharist. Like many of the Holy Week liturgies, the feel of the Eucharist changes throughout the service. The Gloria in excelsis is sung for the first time since the beginning of Lent, but after the foot-washing (all are welcome to take part) and the eucharist the altars are stripped as the choir sings psalms of lament and the sacrament is moved to a simply but beautifully adorned place, where, with the disciples, we are invited to watch with Christ ‘for one brief hour’. The Cathedral, in semi-darkness now, remains open until 10pm for prayer and reflection, when the final gospel of the day is read and Christ is left alone.
Good Friday 19 April: Three Hours, 12 noon
The first two hours of this service contains hymns, readings and addresses on the theme of the Passion, given this year by the Right Reverend Alastair Redfern, former Bishop of Derby. During the final hour the Cathedral Choir sings and there is an opportunity to walk to the cross and to pray before it, as the Choir sings. As the death of Christ is commemorated at 3pm, the service finishes suddenly and the congregation leaves, as so many fled the crucifixion. All are welcome to come and go during any part of the service. Hymns are sung on each quarter to allow for unobtrusive movement.
Holy Saturday 20 April: The Easter Vigil with Fireworks, 9.00pm
The congregation gathers in the darkened Cathedral before this service and the Light of Christ is kindled outside and carried ceremonially into the Cathedral. The Easter hymn of praise, Exultet is sung as the Paschal candle is set in the midst of the Cathedral and then dramatic hymns and readings precede the Proclamation of Easter. A candlelit procession moves around the Cathedral to the font where baptismal vows are renewed, before the procession moves to Cathedral Green for fireworks. There will be a party in the North transept, following the service to which all are invited to bring a bottle!
Easter Sunday 21 April: Eucharist, 9.30am; Matins, 11.30am; Evensong, 3.00pm
The three services of Easter Day will be full of the sense of joy in the resurrection, with music to match!