Church History

Well it's Habout time and I know that some of you will say that giving hup my Lenten vows before 'Oly Week is a bit of a rum thing to do but to be honest there is no way I can get through the next seven days without doing a lot of shouting and telling my young team hexactly where to go in this mother church of hours to start it's the first Triduum for some of them and they don't know their Stations from their sternum hif you pardon the hexpression so I 'ave to cajole them hevery hinch of the way there's something to change or wash hevery day depending on the celebrant mentioning no names but it keeps us hall very busy Mrs Grindle 'as rallied with gusto hin the Cathedral refectory this year what with 'er regular Welsh tarts and Yorkshire turnovers there's something new this time called prune and almind flapjacks which I've yet to try but she tells me they're halso stuffed with chili peppers and anchovies and I'm to talk to the Clerk of Works to make sure the plumbing is ready for hall heventualities.  Right.  Palm Sunday!  Where's that shovel?


And lo!  Came He unto Jerusalem, and passeth He near Bethphage and Bethany whence He had supped; And behold, at the Mount of Olives sent He two disciples and sayeth unto them, "Go to yonder village and bring me an ass that no man has ridden."  And, perplexed, they departed from Him.  And brought they the ass, who also was perplexed, having told its owner that the Master needeth it.  And verily it pleased Him.  And climbing on the beast He said, "Giddy-up!"  And it was so.  And rode he into Jerusalem as the crowds shouted diligently, "Hosanna!"  And the disciples looked about themselves for they knew not the meaning of the word.  And the people had wrought for themselves crosses of palms that they held aloft as He passed. (*) And lo!  The Pharisees looked down on the procession and did frown, stroking their beards.  And it was not good.  And having guided his ass around returned he unto Bethany.


Cease my tongue the endless prattle,
All the gossip that I hear.
All the dirt on all the servers,
And the rumours 'bout the choir.
For it's time to be so holy,
Now that Holy Week is here.  

Take that man who swings the incense,
He who censes with such flair.
Did you know about his secret?
Whoops! I'll ask you not to stare.
Yes it's time to be so holy,
Now that Holy Week is here.  

There's the high soprano singer,
Butter wouldn't melt it's said,
Yet I hear some dark reminders
That she likes her daily bread.
But it's time to be so holy,
Now that frontals are all red. 

I'll just purse my lips with silence,
Rancour cannot pass this day.
I'll just stand behind the altar,
Holding penitential sway.
Just because it is that season,
Holy Week is under way.

Pange Lingua, plainsong

PALM SUNDAY, the first day of Holy Week, should be specially observed. The procession of 'palms' is as old as the fourth century, but the introduction of the Blessed Sacrament into the Procession was of course much later; possibly it was due in this country to Lanfranc. Anciently every village had at least its procession of palms.

The dried date-palms often used are an innovation, and the appropriateness of using bleached and dead leaves of this kind may well be questioned. If they are used at all, the ancient 'flowers and branches' should be used as well. Willow and yew, for instance, look much better on the altar than the long palms which one often sees propped in awkward curves against the reredos.

The procession takes place before the Eucharist only, and not at Evensong.

The village of Ropery Slack is to stage Good Friday blood-lettings, the first time this has been performed in the County since 1567.  Beginning at Noon, thirteen members of the Prayer Book Society are going to be nailed to crosses in a ceremony to re-enact the crucifixion of Jesus. This will be preceded by a procession of young men flagellating themselves as they walk a "Way of the Cross" to the parish church of St. James the Throttler where the crucifixion ceremony is to take place. The participants in this ritual have offered themselves because of a pact that they have made with God to keep the Book of Common Prayer as the central core book of the Church of England. 

This will be a deeply religious ceremony, and members of the OHHSV, seated on folding chairs, will be solemnly chanting the Passion narrative throughout.  At the foot of each cross four villagers will play games of poker dice to emulate the soldiers gambling at the foot of Christ's cross.  

This event will shatter any romantic notions about the Passion faster than money will change hands with the nearby gamblers. The atmosphere will be more festive than sombre, and large numbers of visitors are expected.  The General Store will be open for 12 hours from 7.00 a.m., and the village pub will be serving food throughout the day, with "Bloody Mary's" on special, as well as their own unique cocktail, "Flagellation" made with ewe's milk and strawberry jelly.  

The event was stopped after 1567 because the flagellants were being elevated to cult status, and villagers would crowd around them during the procession in order to be spattered with their blood.  This year, in order to make a path through the throngs of onlookers for those about to be crucified, men on horseback and dressed in Roman Centurion costumes will ride their horses recklessly through the crowd and make the people to flee for their safety.

When all of the participants in the crucifixion ceremony are at the churchyard the crucifixion process will begin.  After prayers and a sprinkling with holy water by the Rector, each participant will lie down on one of the three crosses available. Next, the arms and waist will be bound tightly with rope and nails doused in alcohol. The proper placement of the nails in the palms and the feet will then be agreed by to-be-crucified and the nailer.  After agreement is reached, the palms will be doused in alcohol, and two swift, compact and precise swings of the hammer will be all that is required to pass a nail through the palm of each hand and penetrate into the cross.  Another nail will de driven with the same precision through the feet, and then the crosses will be hoisted upright by a specially-trained group of villagers.  The amount of time one remains crucified will be determined by that person's pain threshold.  It is expected that most will stay on the cross for only a few minutes before being taken down.  

Once the nails have been removed and the wounds sprayed clean with alcohol, the crucified will be taken to the St. John's Ambulance tent whilst the next three participants take up their positions on the crosses.   

The congregation, many probably in blood splattered clothes, will then gather in the parish church for Sung Evensong.  Refreshments and hot cross buns will be served afterwards at the Rectory.