Diocese of York

Lent, Holy Week and Easter at York Minster 2017

Everyone is invited to York Minster’s services, music and events for Lent, Holy Week and Easter 2017.

Lent and Easter are at the heart of the Christian faith and recall the final weeks and days in the life of Jesus Christ including his arrival in Jerusalem, the solemn events of the crucifixion, and the joy and triumph of the resurrection on Easter day.

The season begins on Wednesday 1 March – Ash Wednesday - and ends on the Feast of Pentecost, which this year falls on Sunday 4 June. Holy Week begins on Sunday 9 April – Palm Sunday - and ends on Sunday 16 April - Easter Day.

Come and join us at the following services and events:


Tuesday 28 February

We prepare with Shrove Tuesday

In preparation for the season, a large wooden cross, the central symbol of the Christian Faith, will be hung above the Quire Screen in the Minster. It will be removed on Sunday 4 June – the Feast of Pentecost.

Wednesday 1st March

Ash Wednesday - Imposition of Ashes (Entry to the Minster is free)

There will be several services during the day when people can come and receive the sign of the cross marked in ash on their foreheads. The Imposition of the Ashes is a reminder of our mortality and of our sharing of death in Christ. At each end of Lent, Ash Wednesday and Good Friday are the most solemn days in the Church calendar with a concentrated focus on worship, prayer and reflection. For this reason, access to the Minster is completely free on these two days.

Imposition of the Ashes will take place at 11.00am and 2.00pm, at the services of Holy Communion at 7.50am and 12.30pm, and at the Sung Eucharist at 5.15pm.

Every Friday from 3 March until 7 April

Stations of the Cross

11.30am Echoing Jesus’ journey to crucifixion and the 14 stops he made on his way, Stations of the Cross will take place in the Minster on Fridays during Lent. A stop is made at one of 14 stations beginning in the North Transept and ending in the South Transept. At each station, there will be a Bible reading and/or a reflection, silence and a short prayer. A hymn will be sung while moving from one station to the next.

Every Thursday from 9 March until 6 April

The Lent Talks - Compline

This year’s Lent Talks will be held in the Nave from 1.15pm until 2.00pm, making it possible for everyone to drop-in to the sessions. Soup and bread lunches will be available in the North Transept from 12.00pm (proceeds to Christian Aid), and there will be a service of Holy Communion from 12.30 until 1.00pm.

The theme for this year’s talks is ‘Journeys of Faith.” Five inspirational speakers will talk about their own journeys of faith arising from their own personal experience.

More information about these can be found here.

Compline – Thursday evenings from 9 March until 6 April

9.00-9.30pm - Service of night prayer for Lent and Passiontide sung by The Ebor Singers. Thursdays from 9 March until 6 April in the Quire.

Sunday 2 April

Music and Readings for Passiontide

4.00pm - A new, special service of biblical readings, poetry and prose for Passiontide interspersed with seasonal choral music. Music by Byrd, Palestrina, Pergolesi, Wesley, Ouseley, Poulenc and Lukaszewski.

Sunday 9 April - Palm Sunday

Procession with Palms and Eucharist

  • 8.00am Holy Communion
  • 9.45am Gather at the Kohima Memorial in Dean’s Park.
  • 10.00am Recalling Jesus’ entry into the City of Jerusalem on a donkey, York Minster’s Palm Sunday Procession will start from Dean’s Park with a donkey leading the procession around and into the Minster. Palm crosses will be blessed, distributed and carried into the Minster.
  • 4.00pm Choral Evensong.

Monday 10 April

Evensong for Holy Week

5.15pm - Evensong will be sung every day during Holy Week with music, readings and prayers appropriate to this poignant time of year.

Bach’s ‘Jesu Meine Freud’ and Compline

7.30 – 8.30pm - Johann Sebastian Bach’s beautiful motet sung by The Ebor Singers followed by Compline.

Tuesday 11 April

Reading of the Passion Gospel with Charpentier’s ‘Le Reniement de Saint Pierre’ and Compline

7.30-8.30pm - A reflective reading of the account in St Mark’s Gospel of the passion and death of Jesus followed by a service of Compline sung by The Ebor Singers.

Wednesday 12 April

Stainer’s Crucifixion and Compline

7.30-9.30pm - A performance of Sir John Stainer’s confessional oratorio followed by a service of Compline sung by The Ebor Singers.

Thursday 13 April

Maundy Thursday – Chrism Eucharist – Eucharist of the Last Supper – Vigil

7.30am - Morning Prayer.

11.00am - The Chrism Eucharist takes its name from Chrismation (anointing). This is the annual service at which the Archbishop of York, Dr John Sentamu, blesses oils for anointing candidates for baptism and confirmation and for healing. The Archbishop will gather members of the clergy from around the Diocese to renew the vows made at their ordinations. In addition, the Archbishop will wash the feet of 12 people, commemorating Jesus’ washing the feet of his disciples before the Last Supper.

7.00pm - At the Eucharist of the Last Supper, the Dean will wash the feet of members of the Minster community. At the end of the service, the consecrated bread will be taken to All Saints’ Chapel and be placed on the altar where it becomes the focus of the vigil which follows. A vigil will be kept until midnight to recall the time Jesus spent in the Garden of Gethsemane - the place where he was later arrested before his trial and crucifixion. This will include the singing of the ancient and moving office of Tenebrae, during which the candles on the High Altar are extinguished one by one.

Friday 14 April

Good Friday

Liturgy of Good Friday – Stations of the Cross for Families – Three Hours Devotion (Entry to the Minster is free on Good Friday)

10.00am - The Liturgy of Good Friday. This service has several parts: the reading of passages from the Bible; the singing of the Passion account from St John’s Gospel; the procession of a large wooden cross through the Nave and, prayers of intercession for the world for which Christ died.

11.30am - Stations of the Cross for Families. Families are invited to gather in the Chapter House before setting out for Dean’s Park for this special family act of worship.

12noon-3pm - Three Hours Devotion. A service of meditation, hymn and prayers with periods of silence for reflection.

Saturday 15 April

Easter Eve – Easter Liturgy with Baptism and Confirmation

8.30pm - The Easter Liturgy with the lighting of the Paschal (Easter) Candle. Conducted in darkness, the service will consist of readings telling the story of the liberation from slavery in Egypt of the ancient Israelites, followed by the lighting of the Paschal Candle. The proclamation of the Easter Gospel is followed by a procession to the Crypt for baptism, confirmation for candidates associated with the Minster, the annual reaffirmation of baptismal vows and concludes with the celebration of the First Eucharist of Easter. The President at the Easter Liturgy will be the Archbishop of York.

Sunday 16 April

Easter Day – Solemn Eucharist – Choral Matins – Solemn Evensong

8.00am - Holy Communion at the High Altar.

10.00am - The Solemn Eucharist at which the Archbishop of York, Dr John Sentamu presides and preaches. The Church’s celebration of the resurrection of Jesus from the dead.

11.45am - We continue to celebrate the joy of Easter with Choral Matins.

4.00pm - The Minster’s celebration of Easter Day concludes with Solemn Evensong and the Blessing of the Easter Garden.

York Minster’s Easter Garden:

A key part of the Minster’s Lent and Easter tradition is the Easter Garden. Around five metres long, the garden depicts key scenes from the Passion. Starting on Palm Sunday with just the tomb and three crosses, new elements will be added as the Easter story unfolds including palm branches, 30 pieces of silver (Judas Iscariot’s reward for his betrayal of Jesus), a crown of thorns and three nails and a length of material representing Jesus’ burial cloth.

During the Easter Vigil on Easter Eve, the tomb will be opened and illuminated and the garden festooned with flowers to celebrate Jesus’ resurrection. The garden will be blessed by the Archbishop of York during the vigil. The Easter Garden will be in the North Transept under the Five Sisters Window from Palm Sunday until the Feast of Pentecost on Sunday 4 June.