Canadian Holy Week Book


Our hope is that this resource, which is searchable and printable, will be of assistance to you in your liturgical planning for Holy Week.

The Canadian Holy Week Book was compiled from The Canadian Prayer Book (1959), The Canadian Hymn Book (1938), The Canadian Book of Occasional Offices, and other sources by Fr John G. McCausland, S.S.J.E.

Introduction from The Canadian Holy Week Book

FOR some time, a number of clergy, organists and choirs, as well as some very devout members of the Church, have urged me to produce a HOLY WEEK BOOK. Those who have written to me come from all types of Anglican parishes and Missions, and from the usual varieties of tradition. I have tried to produce a book that can be used by the majority in the Anglican Church of Canada.

Being the most dramatic week of the whole Christian Year, each service has a special character. For content, I have used the Prayer Book 1959, the Canadian Book of Occasional Offices, and the 1938 Anglican Hymn Book. I am most grateful to the General Secretary, Archdeacon Light, whose office is to grant permission to use Prayer Book and 1938 Hymn Book material. The late Archbishop Sexton, who compiled the ‘Occasional Offices’ Book’ was pleased to give the Canadian S.S.J.E. full permission to use the material in that book. The ‘Exultet’ and Preface for the blessing of the Paschal Candle are a private translation and adaptation of the original Latin of the Sarum Rite.

The Services, printed in full, are (1) Palm Sunday Liturgy; (2) Tenebrae or Morning Offices of Maundy Thursday; (3) Evening Eucharist, Maundy Thursday; (4) The Good Friday Liturgy; (5) the Vigil of Easter Liturgy. I have listed items for the other services which can be followed easily in the Prayer Book.

When I was ordained, the Anglican Church was not ready for the revival of the traditional services of Holy Week. The few parishes which did something with them were considered very extreme. It is common now to have Palms, an evening Eucharist on Maundy Thursday, and indeed the Anglican Book Centre sells Paschal Candles. The fact is that most of the material for these very evangelical services is found in the Prayer Book. When intelligently carried out, they simply proclaim the redemption of the world through our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.

Some may think that each service is too long, but each day has such a special character that it needs each item. In a mission district or multi-point parish, the priest can divide the service, e.g. Good Friday Liturgy, into two or three parts. But surely there are devout people, however few in number, who would be glad of this opportunity for concentrated worship in Holy Week. Religious Communities and Divinity Students should be glad to be the Voice of prayer and thanksgiving for the redemption wrought through Jesus Christ.

In the past, small parishes, or congregations with few singers, have been discouraged, when looking at the traditional music of Holy Week. In these places, I have suggested a shout, or a hymn tune that is known, or simply saying the item. The liturgical movement has taught us the value of participation. I believe that the services in this book are arranged for full congregational participation.

It will be noted that I have used the Prayer Book Eucharist, and the Prayer Book version of the Epistles and Gospels. I am fully aware of the demand, in certain quarters, for other translations of the Bible and for contemporary language and experimental Rite in the Eucharist. I feel that, aside from copyright problems, it would have been impossible to present all the variations now allowed or suggested. If the parish priest wishes to use an experimental Rite or another version of the Bible, he can simply substitute the contemporary text.

I would suggest that explanations of the Service be given before the Service begins. I have put in some notes that will help to explain the purpose of the particular Liturgy. I should like to remind those who have THE ORDER OF DIVINE SERVICE, which I produce for each liturgical year, that the listed items for Holy Week are in some cases in a different order from that described in this Book. This book presents the Holy Week liturgy in its latest amended form.

John G. McCausland, S.S.J.E., Ash Wednesday, 1973.

Canadian Holy Week Book