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Holy Week and Easter at Salisbury Cathedral

by Michael Ford last modified 23 Mar, 2022 05:27 PM

The Holy Week and Easter period is one of the busiest and most important periods in the Church year, with over thirty services and events taking place over the seven days from Palm Sunday on 10 April to Easter Day, 17 April.

The liturgy follows the age-old story of Christ as he makes his journey to the Cross and ultimately to his Resurrection and the Cathedral is ‘dressed’ in accordance with the narrative and mood of the story for the day. For the Church the narrative of the dying and rising of Jesus represents ‘new creation’ and hope for the year to come.

The Holy Week Concert on Wednesday 13 April features Allegri's Miserere and Gerald Finzi's magnificent anthem, Lo, the full, final sacrifice. The programme also includes choral music by Byrd, Sanders and Poulenc and organ works by Bach, Demessieux and Howells.

For further details see below:

Palm Sunday 10 April THE EUCHARIST WITH PROCESSION OF PALMS from Choristers Green at 10.30 Holy Week begins with the Palm Sunday Eucharist, which retells Jesus’ triumphant entry into Jerusalem. The service begins on Choristers Green, where the congregation’s palm crosses are blessed, then moves to the West Front, where the Choir sings Psalm 24 ‘The earth is the Lord’s and all that fills it, the compass of the world and all who dwell therein….’

Once inside the Cathedral the mood becomes more sombre and reflective as the choir sings a setting of the St Luke Passion created by Director of Music, David Halls.

CHORAL EVENSONG at 16.30 Canon Nigel Davies, Vicar of the Close preaches.

Monday 11 April CONFESSIONS from 16.30 to 17.00 Confessions in the Audley Chapel


Monday 11 April continued…

SERVICE OF RECONCILIATION at 19.30 On Monday evening, during the Service of Reconciliation, the congregation reflects in preparation for confession. Music is provided by the Cathedral Chamber Choir.

Tuesday 12 April SARUM TENEBRAE: A SERVICE OF SHADOWS at 19.30 On Tuesday the Cathedral Choir sings the ancient and dramatic Office of Tenebrae in an imaginative processional service drawing on the Sarum tradition.

Wednesday 13 April CONCERT including LO, THE FULL, FINAL SACRIFICE by Gerald Finzi and MISERERE by Allegri at 19.30 Sacred music for the season of Lent is some of the most beautiful and moving music ever written and this concert contains some notable examples. Allegri's famous Miserere, with its soaring top Cs from the trebles contrasted with passages of plainsong, will set the scene. Choral music by Byrd, Sanders and Poulenc will continue the Lenten journey, interspersed with organ solos by Bach, Demessieux and Howells, and the concert will finish with Gerald Finzi's magnificent anthem, Lo, the full, final sacrifice. This work, written in 1946, is a setting of words by the 17th century poet Richard Crashaw, exploring themes of Christ's sacrifice for the sins of the world in the context of the Eucharist. This concert will capture the subdued atmosphere of Holy Week while looking forward to the triumph of Easter Day and Christ's resurrection.

Tickets are £15 (£7.50 for children) and can be purchased via the Cathedral website. Accessible admission with free carer ticket is £15.


Thursday 14 April MAUNDY THURSDAY Jesus’ commitment to love, service and forgiveness, even in the face of cruel opposition is the theme of the Maundy Thursday services.

EUCHARIST OF THE CHRISM and RE-AFFIRMATION OF VOWS at 11.00 On Thursday morning clergy from across the Diocese gather for a special service at which the Acting Bishop of Salisbury blesses oil that will be used over the year by the clergy of the diocese. The clergy and lay ministers come to the Chrism Eucharist to renew their commitment as Christ’s ministers.

Thursday 14 April continued…

CONFESSIONS from 16.30 to 17.00 Confessions in the Audley Chapel


EUCHARIST OF THE LAST SUPPER at 19.30 On the evening of Maundy Thursday the Gloria is sung to celebrate Jesus’ last supper with his disciples. The service ends with the stripping of the altar whilst Bairstow’s setting of the Lamentation is sung by the Cathedral Choir and then a procession to Spire crossing, where the Garden of Repose set stands, representing the Garden of Gethsemane. The Cathedral Precentor, Canon Anna Macham preaches.

WATCH OF THE PASSION at 21.00 until midnight

Friday 15 April FAMILY SERVICE

At 10:00 at St Thomas’ Church

GOOD FRIDAY DEVOTION at 12 Noon The Devotion will be led by the Very Revd Nicholas Papadopulos, Dean. The Devotion, conducted in the Nave, comprises a sequence of readings, prayers, reflections, and silence. LITURGY OF GOOD FRIDAY at 13.30 pm This service takes place in the Cathedral Quire and includes St John’s account of the Passion sung to Plainsong, John Sanders’ Reproaches, and the ritual Veneration of the Cross, recalling Christ’s suffering.

Saturday, 16 April HOLY SATURDAY and EASTER EVE

Holy Saturday is a day of watching and waiting in prayer. The Cathedral is stripped bare, and the nave seating is removed to provide a space for silent reflection and prayer. Visitors who come the Cathedral on the day are invited to pause and spend a few moments quietly reflecting

Saturday, 16 April continued…


At 10:00 (until 16:30)

The Cathedral is open for prayer, as above.

EVENING PRAYER at 16.30 The day culminates with Evening Prayer, which is said in the nave 

Sunday 17 April EASTER DAY

Easter Day is a day of great celebration, marking the resurrection of Christ. Worship starts early with a vigil in the small hours and an Easter fire on the West Front. A single candle lights the darkened Cathedral as the congregation moves indoors. This is the time when baptisms and confirmations take place at the William Pye font.


The Easter Vigil readings are read in the Chapter House interspersed with the singing of psalms.


at 05.00 The Vigil concludes as the sun rises and those taking part move outside to the West Front where the Easter fire and the Paschal (or Easter) candle, is lit as a sign of Jesus’s resurrection. Led by the candle the congregation enters the still-dark Cathedral to complete the service, which includes baptisms and confirmations. The Acting Bishop of Salisbury, Rt Revd Karen Gorham will preach at this service.

EUCHARIST WITH THE BLESSING OF THE EASTER GARDEN at 10.30 The Cathedral Chancellor and Sub-Dean, Canon Edward Probert will preach at this service, during which the Easter Garden, created by the Cathedral florists around the Symbolic Tomb of Christ, is blessed. There are also magnificent floral displays on the nave plinths and around the William Pye font. 

FESTAL EVENSONG at 15.00 – note the earlier start

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