Worship Service for Palm Sunday

April 5, 2020

Welcome to this online Sunday service! Simply scroll down at your own pace, saying the service alone or with others (appropriately distanced, in a virtual meeting, or on the phone). When you click on the music links, you will hear pieces offered by this Cathedral’s musicians, or others from around the world. Grace and peace to you as you share in the worship of the Church today.

The Order of Service is available as a PDF for download at the bottom of this page.



Prelude                                                                  Pange lingua en taille à 4 - Nicolas de Grigny


Introit                                                                                                   Pange lingua - Mode iii

Pange, lingua, gloriosi prœlium certaminis, et super Crucis trophæo dic triumphum nobilem, qualiter Redemptor orbis immolatus vicerit. / Sing, my tongue, the glorious battle, Sing the ending of the fray, O'er the cross, the victor's trophy, Sound the loud triumphant lay: Tell how Christ, the world's Redeemer, As a Victim won the day.


As we prepare to worship almighty God, let us with penitent and obedient hearts confess our sins, that we may obtain forgiveness by God’s infinite goodness and mercy:

Most merciful God, we confess that we have sinned against you in thought, word, and deed, by what we have done, and by what we have left undone. We have not loved you with our whole heart; we have not loved our neighbours as ourselves. We are truly sorry and we humbly repent. For the sake of your Son Jesus Christ, have mercy on us and forgive us, that we may delight in your will, and walk in your ways, to the glory of your name. Amen.

Almighty God have mercy upon us, pardon and deliver us from all our sins, confirm and strengthen us in all goodness, and keep us in eternal life; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.


During Lent we have been preparing for the celebration of our Lord’s paschal mystery. On this day our Lord Jesus Christ entered the holy city of Jerusalem in triumph. The people welcomed him with palms and shouts of praise, but the path before him led to self-giving, suffering, and death.

Today we greet him as our King, although we know his crown is thorns and his throne a cross. We follow him this week from the glory of the palms to the glory of the resurrection by way of the dark road of suffering and death. United with him in his suffering on the cross, may we share his resurrection and new life.

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

The Holy Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ according to Matthew (21:1–11). 
        Glory to you, Lord Jesus Christ.

When they had come near Jerusalem and had reached Bethphage, at the Mount of Olives, Jesus sent two disciples, saying to them, ‘Go into the village ahead of you, and immediately you will find a donkey tied, and a colt with her; untie them and bring them to me. If anyone says anything to you, just say this, “The Lord needs them.” And he will send them immediately.’ This took place to fulfil what had been spoken through the prophet, saying, ‘Tell the daughter of Zion, Look, your king is coming to you, humble, and mounted on a donkey, and on a colt, the foal of a donkey.’ The disciples went and did as Jesus had directed them; they brought the donkey and the colt, and put their cloaks on them, and he sat on them. A very large crowd spread their cloaks on the road, and others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road. The crowds that went ahead of him and that followed were shouting, ‘Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest heaven!’When he entered Jerusalem, the whole city was in turmoil, asking, ‘Who is this?’ The crowds were saying, ‘This is the prophet Jesus from Nazareth in Galilee.’

The Gospel of Christ.
        Praise to you, Lord Jesus Christ.

Let us give thanks to the Lord our God.
        It is right to give our 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. The Hebrews acclaimed Jesus as Messiah and King, with palm branches in their hands, crying, Hosanna in the highest. May we also go forth to meet Christ 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.

Christ became obedient unto death:
        O come, let us worship.

 Hymn                                                                                                All glory laud and honour

All glory, laud, and honour
to thee, Redeemer, King!
to whom the lips of children
made sweet hosannas ring.  

Thou art the King of Israel,
thou David's royal Son,
who in the Lord's Name comest,
the King and blessèd one. [Refrain]

The people of the Hebrews            
with palms before thee went;            
our praise and prayer and anthems            
before thee we present. [Refrain]              

To thee before thy Passion
they sang their hymns of praise;
to thee, now high exalted,
our melody we raise. [Refrain]

Christ became obedient unto death:
        O come, let us worship.


A reading from the Book of Isaiah (50:4-9):

     The Lord God has given me the tongue of a teacher, that I may know how to sustain the weary with a word. Morning by morning he wakens - wakens my ear to listen as those who are taught. The Lord God has opened my ear, and I was not rebellious, I did not turn backward. I gave my back to those who struck me, and my cheeks to those who pulled out the beard; I did not hide my face from insult and spitting.     
     The Lord God helps me; therefore I have not been disgraced; therefore I have set my face like flint, and I know that I shall not be put to shame; he who vindicates me is near. Who will contend with me? Let us stand up together. Who are my adversaries? Let them confront me. It is the Lord God who helps me; who will declare me guilty?

Hear what the Spirit is saying to the Church.
        Thanks be to God.

Psalm 118:1-2, 19-29                                                                                            Tone VIII.1

Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; * his mercy endures for ever. Let Israel now proclaim, * ”His mercy endures for ever.” Open for me the gates of righteousness; * I will enter them; I will offer thanks to the Lord. ”This is the gate of the Lord; * he who is righteous may enter.” I will give thanks to you, for you answered me * and have become my salvation. The same stone which the builders rejected * has become the chief cornerstone. This is the Lord’s doing, * and it is marvellous in our eyes. On this day the Lord has acted; * we will rejoice and be glad in it. Hosannah, Lord, hosannah! * Lord, send us now success. Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord; * we bless you from the house of the Lord. God is the Lord; he has shined upon us; * form a procession with branches up to the horns of the altar. ”You are my God, and I will thank you; * you are my God, and I will exalt you.” Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; * his mercy endures for ever.

A Reading from the Letter of Paul to the Philippians (2:5-11):

     Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not regard equality with God as something to be exploited, but emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, being born in human likeness. And being found in human form, he humbled himself and became obedient to the point of death even death on a cross.
     Therefore God also highly exalted him and gave him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bend, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

Hear what the Spirit is saying to the Church.
        Thanks be to God.

Gradual (from a 2009 CCC Sacred Concert)                                              Messiah - G.F. Handel

Surely He hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows! He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement of our peace was upon Him. And with His stripes we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way. And the Lord hath laid on Him the iniquity of us all.

The Passion of our Lord Jesus Christ according  to Matthew:

     Then one of the twelve, who was called Judas Iscariot, went to the chief priests and said, ‘What will you give me if I betray him to you?’ They paid him thirty pieces of silver. And from that moment he began to look for an opportunity to betray him.
     On the first day of Unleavened Bread the disciples came to Jesus, saying, ‘Where do you want us to make the preparations for you to eat the Passover?’ He said, ‘Go into the city to a certain man, and say to him, “The Teacher says, My time is near; I will keep the Passover at your house with my disciples.” ’ So the disciples did as Jesus had directed them, and they prepared the Passover meal.
     When it was evening, he took his place with the twelve; and while they were eating, he said, ‘Truly I tell you, one of you will betray me.’ And they became greatly distressed and began to say to him one after another, ‘Surely not I, Lord?’ He answered, ‘The one who has dipped his hand into the bowl with me will betray me. The Son of Man goes as it is written of him, but woe to that one by whom the Son of Man is betrayed! It would have been better for that one not to have been born.’ Judas, who betrayed him, said, ‘Surely not I, Rabbi?’ He replied, ‘You have said so.’
     While they were eating, Jesus took a loaf of bread, and after blessing it he broke it, gave it to the disciples, and said, ‘Take, eat; this is my body.’ Then he took a cup, and after giving thanks he gave it to them, saying, ‘Drink from it, all of you; for this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins. I tell you, I will never again drink of this fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father’s kingdom.’
      When they had sung the hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives. Then Jesus said to them, ‘You will all become deserters because of me this night; for it is written, “I will strike the shepherd, and the sheep of the flock will be scattered.”
     But after I am raised up, I will go ahead of you to Galilee.’ Peter said to him, ‘Though all become deserters because of you, I will never desert you.’ Jesus said to him, ‘Truly I tell you, this very night, before the cock crows, you will deny me three times.’ Peter said to him, ‘Even though I must die with you, I will not deny you.’ And so said all the disciples.
     Then Jesus went with them to a place called Gethsemane; and he said to his disciples, ‘Sit here while I go over there and pray.’ He took with him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, and began to be grieved and agitated. Then he said to them, ‘I am deeply grieved, even to death; remain here, and stay awake with me.’ And going a little farther, he threw himself on the ground and prayed, ‘My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from me; yet not what I want but what you want.’
     Then he came to the disciples and found them sleeping; and he said to Peter, ‘So, could you not stay awake with me one hour? Stay awake and pray that you may not come into the time of trial; the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.’ Again he went away for the second time and prayed, ‘My Father, if this cannot pass unless I drink it, your will be done.’ Again he came and found them sleeping, for their eyes were heavy. So leaving them again, he went away and prayed for the third time, saying the same words. Then he came to the disciples and said to them, ‘Are you still sleeping and taking your rest? See, the hour is at hand, and the Son of Man is betrayed into the hands of sinners. Get up, let us be going. See, my betrayer is at hand.’
     While he was still speaking, Judas, one of the twelve, arrived; with him was a large crowd with swords and clubs, from the chief priests and the elders of the people. Now the betrayer had given them a sign, saying, ‘The one I will kiss is the man; arrest him.’ At once he came up to Jesus and said, ‘Greetings, Rabbi!’ and kissed him. Jesus said to him, ‘Friend, do what you are here to do.’ Then they came and laid hands on Jesus and arrested him. Suddenly, one of those with Jesus put his hand on his sword, drew it, and struck the slave of the high priest, cutting off his ear. Then Jesus said to him, ‘Put your sword back into its place; for all who take the sword will perish by the sword. Do you think that I cannot appeal to my Father, and he will at once send me more than twelve legions of angels? But how then would the scriptures be fulfilled, which say it must happen in this way?’ At that hour Jesus said to the crowds, ‘Have you come out with swords and clubs to arrest me as though I were a bandit? Day after day I sat in the temple teaching, and you did not arrest me. But all this has taken place, so that the scriptures of the prophets may be fulfilled.’ Then all the disciples deserted him and fled.
     Those who had arrested Jesus took him to Caiaphas the high priest, in whose house the scribes and the elders had gathered. But Peter was following him at a distance, as far as the courtyard of the high priest; and going inside, he sat with the guards in order to see how this would end. Now the chief priests and the whole council were looking for false testimony against Jesus so that they might put him to death, but they found none, though many false witnesses came forward. At last two came forward and said, ‘This fellow said, “I am able to destroy the temple of God and to build it in three days.” ’ The high priest stood up and said, ‘Have you no answer? What is it that they testify against you?’ But Jesus was silent. Then the high priest said to him, ‘I put you under oath before the living God, tell us if you are the Messiah, the Son of God.’ Jesus said to him, ‘You have said so. But I tell you, from now on you will see the Son of Man seated at the right hand of Power and coming on the clouds of heaven.’
     Then the high priest tore his clothes and said, ‘He has blasphemed! Why do we still need witnesses? You have now heard his blasphemy. What is your verdict?’ They answered, ‘He deserves death.’ Then they spat in his face and struck him; and some slapped him, saying, ‘Prophesy to us, you Messiah! Who is it that struck you?’
     Now Peter was sitting outside in the courtyard. A servant-girl came to him and said, ‘You also were with Jesus the Galilean.’ But he denied it before all of them, saying, ‘I do not know what you are talking about.’ When he went out to the porch, another servant-girl saw him, and she said to the bystanders, ‘This man was with Jesus of Nazareth.’ Again he denied it with an oath, ‘I do not know the man.’ After a little while the bystanders came up and said to Peter, ‘Certainly you are also one of them, for your accent betrays you.’ Then he began to curse, and he swore an oath, ‘I do not know the man!’ At that moment the cock crowed. Then Peter remembered what Jesus had said: ‘Before the cock crows, you will deny me three times.’ And he went out and wept bitterly.
     When morning came, all the chief priests and the elders of the people conferred together against Jesus in order to bring about his death. They bound him, led him away, and handed him over to Pilate the governor.
     When Judas, his betrayer, saw that Jesus was condemned, he repented and brought back the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and the elders. He said, ‘I have sinned by betraying innocent blood.’ But they said, ‘What is that to us? See to it yourself.’ Throwing down the pieces of silver in the temple, he departed; and he went and hanged himself. But the chief priests, taking the pieces of silver, said, ‘It is not lawful to put them into the treasury, since they are blood money.’ After conferring together, they used them to buy the potter’s field as a place to bury foreigners. For this reason that field has been called the Field of Blood to this day. Then was fulfilled what had been spoken through the prophet Jeremiah, ‘And they took the thirty pieces of silver, the price of the one on whom a price had been set, on whom some of the people of Israel had set a price, and they gave them for the potter’s field, as the Lord commanded me.’
     Now Jesus stood before the governor; and the governor asked him, ‘Are you the King of the Jews?’ Jesus said, ‘You say so.’ But when he was accused by the chief priests and elders, he did not answer. Then Pilate said to him, ‘Do you not hear how many accusations they make against you?’ But he gave him no answer, not even to a single charge, so that the governor was greatly amazed.
      Now at the festival the governor was accustomed to release a prisoner for the crowd, anyone whom they wanted. At that time they had a notorious prisoner, called Jesus Barabbas. So after they had gathered, Pilate said to them, ‘Whom do you want me to release for you, Jesus Barabbas or Jesus who is called the Messiah?’ For he realized that it was out of jealousy that they had handed him over. While he was sitting on the judgement seat, his wife sent word to him, ‘Have nothing to do with that innocent man, for today I have suffered a great deal because of a dream about him.’ Now the chief priests and the elders persuaded the crowds to ask for Barabbas and to have Jesus killed. The governor again said to them, ‘Which of the two do you want me to release for you?’ And they said, ‘Barabbas.’ Pilate said to them, ‘Then what should I do with Jesus who is called the Messiah?’ All of them said, ‘Let him be crucified!’ Then he asked, ‘Why, what evil has he done?’ But they shouted all the more, ‘Let him be crucified!’
     So when Pilate saw that he could do nothing, but rather that a riot was beginning, he took some water and washed his hands before the crowd, saying, ‘I am innocent of this man’s blood; see to it yourselves.’ Then the people as a whole answered, ‘His blood be on us and on our children!’ So he released Barabbas for them; and after flogging Jesus, he handed him over to be crucified.
     Then the soldiers of the governor took Jesus into the governor’s headquarters, and they gathered the whole cohort around him. They stripped him and put a scarlet robe on him, and after twisting some thorns into a crown, they put it on his head. They put a reed in his right hand and knelt before him and mocked him, saying, ‘Hail, King of the Jews!’ They spat on him, and took the reed and struck him on the head. After mocking him, they stripped him of the robe and put his own clothes on him. Then they led him away to crucify him.

A Reflection by the Reverend Canon Linda Hill
Incumbent of the Parish of St. Aidan, Ottawa and Cathedral Canon of St. Hilda of Whitby.

Recently I learned how wrong I have been about Palm Sunday, but it took this COVID-19 crisis to show me.

We are all learning new things during these strange days of physical distancing, especially about what is important and what is not. Or at least we are learning about the relative importance of things we once thought were essential.

I suspect we have all become more reflective than usual. So as I thought back to previous Palm Sundays I realize I had always stressed the importance of gathering together. Of being physically together in church to honour what happened to Jesus in the week before he died.

I valued us holding grassy-smelling palm crosses in our hands and taking extra ones for those we love. I valued waving palm branches or watching them being waved as people processed down the church aisle. Those of you who have attended a Palm Sunday liturgy before know what I am talking about. It can be a profoundly moving experience. As is the experience of shifting focus from the glory of the palms to the long Passion reading, being taken deep into the story.

I even preached sermons that stressed the importance of being physically together to honour what happened to Jesus. To move together from the joy-filled procession at the start of the week, through the solemnity of Maundy Thursday and the tension and violence of Good Friday, culminating with his death on the cross. A congregation that moves through these liturgies together cannot help but be drawn closer together by the time Easter Sunday comes.

But what I learned these past weeks is that – although it continues to be very important to gather as Christians – our faith in God can support us even when we cannot be together in the flesh. Those in our congregations who have been homebound for years already know this! People who become hospitalized for any length of time learn it too. And I knew it intellectually, however these past weeks of physical distancing have allowed me to learn what so many Christians already know from experience. That our faith binds us to each with warm and supple ties that don’t rely on us being physically present to each other. There is a spiritual connection that is very real, although invisible.

That being said, the other thing home-bound and hospitalized and physically isolated believers know is how immensely valuable in-the-flesh, face-to-face visits and worship services are. They are of incalculable significance. May our new experience teach us to never again take for granted the privilege of gathering in person. When this crisis is over Canadians of all faiths and none at all will know this in a new way. We can only be enriched by realizing this.

Meanwhile, we are here together. Not physically, but spiritually. We honour Jesus by reading the story of his passion. Yes, it forces us to confront the reality of evil in the world. But it also reminds us that there is something stronger than evil. The love of God which caused Jesus to walk the way of the cross, right through death to through to the glory of the resurrection.

No, we have not walked in a palm procession this morning. But Jesus has called each of us to follow him in the way of the cross. (And if that isn’t a procession, I don’t know what is!) He says, ‘If any want to become my followers, let then deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.’

We do that as we pray and love and serve – together. For whatever else it is, the way of the cross is always walked ‘in procession’. We cannot be alone in our faith. There are no solitary Christians. We are each part of the church even if we are alone in our home. Jesus has promised to be with always, until the end of time.

And some people in this procession are invisible to us, because they walked on this earth a long time ago! In my parish I speak often of ancient Celtic saints like Aidan of Lindisfarne and Hilda of Whitby. We could think of saints from every country represented in this diverse congregation worshipping online together this morning. They are all part of the procession that is walking together in the way of the cross.

We can be powerfully united in spirit, and we need to be. The whole world is going through something we have never seen before and we are all frightened at times. There is and will continue to be increased suffering – loneliness, illness, death and grief. There is and will continue to be financial struggles and deprivation. There will be crushed dreams.

We and our families and circle of friends will each have our own struggles as we move through these COVID-19 days. But we are not alone. The God who walked the way of the cross, who didn’t avoid suffering or even death itself, is with us every step of the way. Next Sunday we will celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ – not in the way Christians usually do – but with the same trust and joy in the liberating power of Christ to bring new life out of darkness.

Meanwhile, let us walk together, with angels and archangels and all the company of heaven, following Christ no matter what comes.


Motet                                                                                  God so loved the world - John Stainer                                                              [Woven from our disbursed individual choristers' voices] 

God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whoso believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.

The Apostles’ Creed:

I believe in God, the Father almighty, creator of heaven and earth.

I believe in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord. He was conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit and born of the Virgin Mary. He suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died, and was buried. He descended to the dead. On the third day he rose again. He ascended into heaven, and is seated at the right hand of the Father. He will come again to judge the living and the dead.

I believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy catholic Church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting.


The Offertory:

Members of the Cathedral Community who wish to make an offering at this time may do so here: www.canadahelps.org/en/charities/christ-church-cathedral-ottawa/

Hymn                                                                                When I survey the wondrous cross

When I survey the wondrous cross
on which the Prince of glory died,
my richest gain I count but loss,
and pour contempt on all my pride.  

Forbid it, Lord, that I should boast,
save in the cross of Christ, my God;
all the vain things that charm me most,
I sacrifice them to his blood.  

See, from his head, his hands, his feet,
sorrow and love flow mingled down;
did e’er such love and sorrow meet,
or thorns compose so rich a crown?

Were the whole realm of nature mine,
that were an offering far too small;
love so amazing, so divine,
demands my soul, my life, my all.


A Prayer of Intercession:
This prayer was composed by our primate, Archbishop Linda Nicholls, who asks that it be offered daily at this time.

God of compassion and mercy,
We lift our hearts to you in thanksgiving:

for your never-failing presence with us at all times, in all circumstances;

for the gifts of this world that lift our hearts to see beauty and hope—the sun, moon and stars; the promise of spring; the beauty of creation; the bonds of community in friends and family and church;

for the promise of Holy Week and Easter that nothing is stronger than your love for us.

May our gratitude strengthen us in hope as we lift to you these for whom we pray:

All who are ill at this time with the COVID-19 virus.

All health care workers sacrificially serving our communities.

All in quarantine and self-isolation, especially those who are lonely and disconnected from any to offer comfort.

All who are homeless and vulnerable.

All who continue to serve to provide food and shelter to those in need.

All who are now unemployed due to closures and cancellations; those who are underemployed or job insecure.

All leaders who must make critical decisions at the right moment for the good of the whole community that they may be strong, courageous and thoughtful.

All families coping with quarantine or isolation and the fears children absorb.

All refugees around the world, stranded with few supports and capacity to be socially distant.

All areas of the world where the emergence of this virus will be an unbearable strain on inadequate or inaccessible medical care.

We pray for your healing grace to be at work in and through us; in and through the gifts of medical science and in and through our parish communities.

May your light and grace continue to be known in the darkest of times through us. We pray with confidence and hope in the name of Jesus Christ our Saviour.


A Prayer of Thanksgiving:

Blessed are you, O Lord our God, ruler of the universe! Your word brings forth the dawn of morning, your wisdom creates both day and night.

You determine the cycles of time, arrange the succession of seasons, and establish the stars and planets in their heavenly courses. Through Christ you are the creator and preserver of the whole world. Living and eternal God, rule over us always.

Blessed be the Lord, whose word makes morning rise and evening fall. Amen.

The Collect for the Sunday of the Passion:

Almighty and everliving God, in tender love for all our human race you sent your Son our Saviour Jesus Christ to take our flesh and suffer death upon a cruel cross. May we follow the example of his great humility, and share in the glory of his resurrection; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who is alive and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

The Lord’s Prayer:

Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name, thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For thine is the kingdom, the power, and the glory, for ever and ever. Amen.


Let us bless the Lord.
        Thanks be to God.

The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit, be with us all evermore. Amen.


 Postlude                                                 Mattheus Final - J.S. Bach (arr. Charles-Marie Widor)


James Calkin, Director of Music and Organist
Andrew McAnerney, Associate Director of Music
Christian Damus, cantor
The Cathedral Choir of Men and Boys



Book of Alternative Services copyright © 1985 and Common Praise copyright © 1998 by the General Synod of the Anglican Church of Canada. All rights reserved. Reproduced under license from ABC Publishing, Anglican Book Centre, a ministry of the General Synod of the Anglican Church of Canada, from Anglican Liturgical Library. Further copying is prohibited. Readings from New Revised Standard Version Bible: Anglicized Edition, © copyright 1989, 1995, Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.