Holy Week and Easter 2021

Christ Church Cathedral will be taking a hybrid approach to Holy Week and Easter services. The aim is to allow people to take part in worship either from home or in person, according to the current pandemic restrictions.

Government guidelines do not as yet allow choirs to sing in the presence of a congregation. This means that choral services will be largely offered online through the Cathedral’s YouTube channel. Where a congregation is present, worshippers are asked to apply for a free ticket, to ensure that the Cathedral can safely manage numbers. The Cathedral is also open daily for private prayer, usually over lunchtime.

Holy Week began on Palm Sunday with an outdoor Procession of Palms and Eucharist in Tom Quad. The Liturgy of the Passion was then sung by the Cathedral Choir and broadcast online.

Throughout this week the Archdeacon of Oxford, the Ven. Jonathan Chaffey, will offer reflections for Holy Week during Choral Evensong. The Cathedral is also broadcasting a series of reflections by Canon Professor Sarah Foot based on paintings from the Picture Gallery on its YouTube channel.

Extra musical events for Holy Week include two online organ recitals (Monday and Wednesday evenings) and a special musical meditation sung by the Cathedral Choir which will be broadcast on Tuesday evening at 7.30pm in place of the usual offering of the St John Passion.

In usual times, Maundy Thursday offers the chance for several hundred clergy from the Diocese of Oxford to gather in the Cathedral to renew their ministerial vows during what is known as the Chrism Mass. In this case, a very limited number of diocesan representatives will be in the building, and the vast majority of clergy will participate – fully robed – from home.

During the evening of Maundy Thursday there will be the chance for worshippers to come to the Cathedral via timed tickets for the meditative Watch of the Passion.

Good Friday will include two online choral services and a short ticketed service. Holy Saturday includes an ecumenical joint service with Wesley Memorial Church (online only) and an Easter Vigil in the evening sung by three cantors. This will begin in the Cathedral Garden before moving into the Cathedral.

Finally, on Eater Day there will be a mix of online and in person services to allow worshippers to share the joy of the Resurrection.

All the details of the services are on a special web page www.chch.ox.ac.uk/HolyWeek2021. Worshippers are encouraged to check the details carefully before coming to the Cathedral, as only limited numbers can be accommodated due to social distancing.