…usually called Palm Sunday. Although it should be pointed out that the “palm” bit is only the beginning. During the final days before Jesus is arrested and executed, he arrived in Jerusalem riding on a donkey and was welcomed by crowds who strewed his path with branches taken from palm trees. Once in Jerusalem events build to a head until the authorities feel they have no choice but to catch him and silence him. In our churches on Palm Sunday we often begin the service with a procession and carry either palm branches or palm crosses as we sing. Once inside, though, the mood turns more sombre and we recall the events of Good Friday.
Sing, my tongue, the glorious battle,
sing the ending of the fray,
o’er the cross, the victor’s trophy,
sound the loud triumphant lay:
tell how Christ, the world’s Redeemer,
as a victim won the day.
God in pity saw man fallen,
shamed and sunk in misery,
when he fell on death by tasting
fruit of the forbidden tree:
then another tree was chosen
which the world from death should free.
Therefore when the appointed fullness
of the holy time was come,
he was sent who maketh all things
forth from God’s eternal home:
thus he came to earth, incarnate,
offspring of a maiden’s womb.
Thirty years among us dwelling,
now at length his hour fulfilled,
born for this, he meets his Passion,
for that this he freely willed,
on the cross the Lamb is lifted,
where his life-blood shall be spilled.
To the Trinity be glory,
to the Father and the Son,
with the co-eternal Spirit,
ever Three and ever One,
one in love and one in splendour,
while unending ages run. Amen.
Pange lingua gloriosi by Venantius Honorius Clementianus Fortunatus (c.535–609)
translation mainly by Percy Dearmer (1867–1936)