Christ Church Cathedral is pleased to announce its lineup of services and exhibits for Holy Week, the week directly leading up to Easter. Events identified with an asterisk will be available via video livestream at https://www.christchurchcathedral.bc.ca/live. All other events are in-person only.
Of all the elements in the Christian year, Holy Week is central—most directly representing the catalyzing events at the heart of our faith. We are members of a community living throughout time that formed in response to the witness of the resurrection. All the actions and outcomes comprising the span from Palm Sunday through to Easter, and their order, are so important we observe them in ‘real time.’
Christians are called to engage wholeheartedly in this full sequence, which will take them all the way through the events of Christ’s passion. This means not only dropping in for the parts you like—the ‘happier’ parts that everyone likes—it means committing to the full range from elation, through conflict, betrayal, humiliation and death, all enacted liturgically. This week is meant to teach us how to suffer, how to die, and how to navigate the injustice and brutality of our world—all in light of the hope within us, that guides and sustains us. Come and join us!
Crucifixion Pillars: An Art installation by Richard Motchman
An interactive and innovative art installation will have its premiere in the Chapel of the New Jerusalem. Crucifixion Pillars is a large-scale, oil-on-wood triptych by Victoria artist Richard Motchman.
It is made up of three large panels, with Jesus on the cross as the central piece, flanked by smaller panels depicting His mother Mary and John the Apostle. Inspired by altar triptychs, each panel is made up of several sections which may be rotated by the viewer to create more than 240 permutations—traditional, contemporary, and abstract.
Saturday, April 1 (6.00 p.m. to 8.00 p.m.) Opening Reception and Talk
Monday, April 3 and Tuesday, April 4 (10.00 a.m. to 7.00 p.m.)
Wednesday, April 5 to Saturday, April 8 (10.00 a.m. to 4.00 p.m.)
Palm Sunday is the commemoration of Jesus’ defiant entrance into Jerusalem and the wild enthusiasm of the crowds. The morning services mark our entrance into Holy Week’s daily observances. Music for the services this week place a special emphasis on the compositions of Thomas Weelkes and William Byrd, who both died 400 years ago in 1623.
8.00 a.m. Holy Communion (said)
9.15 a.m. The 9.15 Eucharist with Procession of Palms from Pioneer Square
11.00 a.m. Choral Eucharist with Procession of Palms*
Introit: Weelkes, Hosanna to the son of David
Musical Setting: William Walton, Missa Brevis
4.00 p.m. Music and Readings for Passiontide*
By now a tradition at the cathedral, this service turns the corner from the adulation of the palms to the dreadful chain of events that follow, from the shouts of “Hosanna” to the cries to “Crucify.” It is an opportunity to hear some of the most beautiful music in the liturgical repertoire, and to allow it to colour our reading of Christ’s passion.
5.00 p.m. Choral Evensong
The daily office sung by our choir as it might be “in quires and places where they sing.” The recitation of the daily offices of matins and vespers mark time, and thereby sanctify it. So too, does this daily offering of Evensong in Holy Week mark Jesus’ inexorable progress toward the Cross. A simple service centred around the psalms sung to ancient melodies.
2023 marks the 400th anniversary of English Renaissance composer William Byrd’s death. On Monday and Tuesday, we hear his sorrowful meditations on poetry from Isaiah prophesying the destruction and desolation of Jerusalem.
On Wednesday, Choral Evensong will be sung by the Young Choristers.
7.00 p.m. Tenebrae
From the Latin for “shadows,” this rarely offered service has become a mainstay of our Holy Week observances. Almost entirely sung or chanted, readings from the Lamentations of Jeremiah are punctuated by polyphonic responsories, this year to musical settings by 16th and 17th century Italian composers, including the infamous Carlo Gesualdo. In person only.
7.00 p.m. Solemn High Mass and Stripping of the Altar*
Maundy Thursday, of course, is the night of Jesus’ betrayal by Judas, his agony in the Garden of Gethsemane, his arrest and trial, the denial by Peter, and his conviction of a capital offence. But before all that, Jesus gathered the twelve in an upper room to keep Passover, and to give them the means to fortify themselves forever: Take, eat. Drink this, all of you. And know that I am with you. One of the most dramatic liturgies of the year, soaring choral music and favourite hymnody transport us to the heights of heaven in this Eucharistic feast, before plunging us into the depths as we ceremonially strip the church of its decorations in preparation for the depths of Good Friday.
This service is followed by the Garden Watch and Compline, a simple vigil, said around the altar of repose in the Lady Chapel. In monastic traditions, this is the last service before bedtime. (In person only)
Incense will be used.
12.00 p.m. The Liturgy of Good Friday*
Join us for the traditional liturgy of Good Friday, with sung dramatization of the passion narrative by T.L. Victoria.
Please note there is no 8.45 a.m. Morning Prayer today.
8.00 p.m. The Great Vigil of Easter*
If Maundy Thursday hosts “one of” the most dramatic liturgies of the year, then surely the Great Vigil is “the” most dramatic liturgy. First we gather around a fire, telling the stories of our ancestors – the great flood, the crossing of the Red Sea, and the valley of the dry bones – all are meant to prime us for the greatest triumph yet: Jesus’ resurrection. The choir sings 20th century Hungarian composer Zoltan Kodàly’s lush Missa Brevis. The Bishop presides over this service which will also include reaffirmations of our faith. Don’t forget to bring your bell or other noisemaker, which we ring throughout the singing of the Gloria!
Incense will be used.
8.00 a.m. Holy Communion (said, with hymn)
9.15 a.m. The 9.15 Eucharist
Bring your joy and be prepared to sing your joy! We come together as a parish family to break bread around the table and celebrate the joy of the season with words and music.
11.00 a.m. Choral Eucharist*
"Jesus Christ is risen today” -- this service has all the bells and whistles. Your favourite Easter hymns, the sparkling Missa Brevis by living British composer Jonathan Dove, and the skill of the cathedral’s organists sending you forth to carry the Easter message in your hearts. In person and online.
4.00 p.m. Solemn Evensong*
We tend to think of Easter Day as a “morning event.” The gospel of John says, “Early on the first day of the week while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene came to the tomb...” However, the bible provides us a rich tradition of evening happenings as well. Since we are a cathedral that offers Choral Evensong every Sunday, Easter Day Evensong is our final “shout”.
Incense will be used.