from St Anne's

Holy Week at Belfast Cathedral

Palm Sunday

Holy Week 2024 will begin with Palm Sunday on 24th March. At our 11.00am morning service, instead of a sermon, we will be led through the Passion account of Jesus’ last week, as told by St Mark in a dramatized reading of the Passion Gospel. Those people that we sit beside each week will take on the roles of Jesus and his accusers, of the disciples and of the crowds who turned so quickly from enthusiastic support to become crying for Christ’s death. In the retelling and in the roles entered into, the gospel writer’s account will speak more powerfully to each of us.

At 7.30pm on Palm Sunday evening the full cathedral choir will sing Sir John Stainer's famous “Crucifixion”. In this devotional performance we will be taken on a musical journey in the company of the disciples and into the passion of Christ which will set the scene for the following seven days. All are invited to this Palm Sunday evening performance, for which the admission is free.

Monday - Wednesday: Daily Worship

Every morning in Holy Week, we will continue with our Lent discipline of 8.30am prayers in the spectacular setting the Chapel of the Holy Spirit. If you haven’t already, please join us if you can. And from Monday to Wednesday in Holy Week we shall also share a lunchtime communion service in the Chapel of Unity for any who are working in the city centre and can join us.

On Wednesday 27th March, this lunchtime communion will be the final in our Lent series “Faith in the City”. Having journeyed from Babel in the book of Genesis, to Jericho and Ninevah from the pages of the Old Testament, and then to Damascus and Antioch in the New Testament, we shall end our midweek travels in the Jerusalem of Jesus, packed and bustling in preparation for the Passover. Each week through Lent, a different preacher and city guide has posed us questions to make us think and share in discussion, before concluding with holy communion. Do join us for the final week if you can.

Maundy Thursday

On Maundy Thursday evening, at 7.30pm, the choir will lead us in our “Eucharist of the Last Supper” with the “Washing of Feet” and “Stripping of the Altar”. Through music, liturgy and preaching we will be taken back to that Last Supper which Jesus shared with his disciples, and out into the night of his betrayal by Judas on the Mount of Olives. By the end of this service the cathedral will be left stark and bare for our Good Friday services of devotion.

Good Friday

On Good Friday, we shall welcome Dr Heather Morris, Methodist General Secretary, and Ecumenical Canon of Armagh to Belfast Cathedral. Dr Morris is our speaker for the three hour devotional service “The Last Words of Christ from the Cross” which begins at 12 noon and carries us through the emotions of the crucifixion to conclude at 3.00pm. You are welcome to join or leave this service at any time, or to stay throughout, depending on your personal circumstances.

At 7.30pm on Good Friday evening the cathedral choir will lead a devotional service of evensong as the light fades on one of history’s most momentous days.

Holy Saturday

On Holy Saturday 30th March, at 8.00pm the spectacular Easter Vigil service begins with the lighting of the Easter Fire on the cathedral steps. We will then make our candle lit way from the telling of creation, the Exodus escape of God’s people through the Red Sea, and through scripture to the Resurrection of Jesus Christ as recounted in the gospel.  With each scripture account, and with the individual reaffirmation of our baptismal vows, we shall make our way through the cathedral building, until bathed in light we reach our human destination of resurrection hope.

Easter Day

On Easter morning we will have to cope with the clocks moving forward by one hour. Despite one hour less to sleep, all are invited to our 11.00am Easter Morning Eucharist. The cathedral choir will lead us in the wonderful “Messe Solenelle” by the French composer Louis Vierne. With its bright harmonies and soaring notes sung by our choir, this piece will take us beyond ourselves to that place where we find resurrection life once again.

And on Easter Sunday afternoon, back to our regular time of 3.30pm, we shall share a special Festive Evensong that will include “The Easter Anthems”, an evensong setting composed by Sarah MacDonald of Ely Cathedral, and Stanford’s Magnificat and Nunc Dimittis in C.


The journey of Jesus through the first Holy Week calls each of us to enter our own personal pilgrimage. So that 2000 years later, we are not distant observers but those whose emotions and lives are shaped, challenged and changed by our own Holy Week.