This annual worship service tells the story, in scripture and song, of the journey from Jesus’ triumphant entry into Jerusalem to his betrayal, trial and crucifixion. Following the joyful, palm-strewn opening, the service becomes ever more somber, incorporating the symbolic stripping of the sanctuary. In silence, liturgical and decorative objects including the Bible, the paraments, candles, and the pastors’ stoles, are removed. As we hear the drama of the desolation, abandonment, and darkness of the passion and death of our Lord in the hymns and Scripture readings, we also see that drama unfold in our sacred space of worship. The sanctuary will remain bare until the beginnings of the Easter celebration.
As First Presbyterian Church is still closed due to Covid, the service was again recorded to be aired on YouTube. Pastors Curtis Fussell and Emily Wilmarth offered the biblical readings and prayers in the empty sanctuary, while the Prelude, anthems and hymns were taken from the March 25, 2018 worship service. The anthems were sung by the Chancel Choir, directed by Dr. Michael Lancaster, and accompanied on organ or piano by Angie Jenkins. Our choir intern, Christine Reeder, submitted a beautiful solo via video of “Were You There.”
The Prelude was “The Palms” by Gabriel Faure, played by Angie on piano. The anthems were Donald McCullough’s “Ah, Holy Jesus,” Thomas Keesecker’s “O Sacred Head Now Wounded,” and Emily Lund’s “Alas, and Did My Savior Bleed.” Angie brought the service to a close with the powerful “March to the Cross” by Pyotr Tchaikovsky, as Postlude.