Sunday, March 28, 2010

Sarum Palm Sunday

From Pearson’s The Sarum Missal in English, I’ve been reading the liturgy for Palm Sunday. Between the pre-procession rites, the procession, and the Mass, the service for Palm Sunday must have been quite long in late medieval England.

Two parts of the rite stand out to me. First before the procession, all the palms and other greenery were blessed and exorcised.

I wonder if I should try that on my lawn. I have a few devilish weeds.

Second, at the second station of the procession, at the south of the church, “seven Choristers sing in a conspicuous place” –

Glory, laud, and honor
To Thee, Redeemer King!
To Whom the lips of children
Made sweet Hosannas ring.

Yes, the familiar hymn that opens many Palm Sunday services, including the one at my parish this morning. The choristers and the choir alternate singing the rest of the hymn.

How wonderful Palm Sunday must have been at the west front of Wells Cathedral. For the hundreds of life-sized statues that adorn the Cathedral's west front would appear to be singing, thanks to secret galleries behind the fa├žade that housed the choir.

On Palm Sunday, the choir would take their place in the galleries, and as the procession of clergy approached, the statues of saints would appear to sing a response to the clergy's chants.

I enjoyed viewing both the statues and the secret galleries back in 2007. I can only imagine how amazing it was out on the west front lawn on Palm Sunday 1507.

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