Palm Sunday (29 March 2015)
An assembly from the Culham St Gabriel archive
Suitable for Whole School (Pri)
To present the events of Palm Sunday, but look, too, at loyalty, given what happened only a few days later.
Preparation and materials
- Palm Sunday is the Sunday before Easter. It marks the beginning of Holy Week, which is the week leading up to Good Friday and Easter Day – also always on a Sunday. On Palm Sunday, Christians celebrate Jesus's entry into Jerusalem to complete his work on Earth. The crowd shouted 'Hosanna to the Son of David!', which means, 'We rejoice in you, Lord Jesus'. The day has a bittersweet quality because, although his triumphant progress into the city was greeted with great enthusiasm, just a few days later the crowd turned on Jesus and wanted him dead. To familiarize yourself with the story, read the Gospels: Matthew 21.1–11, Mark 11.1–10 and Luke 19.29–40.
- In classes before the assembly, have the children make either or both:
– simple card crosses decorated with symbols or pictures of some episodes from Jesus' ministry or the stories he told
– palm fronds, by rolling green sugar paper loosely and making cuts from the top to the middle, then pulling gently from the centre until extended and securing the stem with tape.
- You will also need:
– the words 'Hosanna to the Son of David!' printed on a large piece of card or an image of this phrase and the means to show it so all can see it
– images of the lyrics of the two songs you choose to sing from the list given at the end below and the means to show them so the children can read them during the assembly
– a leader, some volunteers to play Jesus, a handful of disciples and a donkey (you will need a simple donkey mask for this child to wear), plus a narrator.
- Either ahead of the assembly, help the children to compose some simple 'processional music' – using drums and bells, for example – or use the suggested recorded music given at the end below and have the means to play it in the ‘Assembly’ at the point when Jesus is riding the donkey in to Jerusalem.
Start by displaying the lyrics to your chosen Palm Sunday song and all sing it.
Leader You have just sung a song about the time when Jesus came in to Jerusalem for the last time in his life. Churches throughout the world celebrate this event by acting out the story every year on Palm Sunday.
Today we are remembering this special time. We have some children to help us, but all of you have an important part to play as you will be the crowd that gathered in Jerusalem all those years ago. They welcomed Jesus by shouting the words 'Hosanna to the Son of David!'
Invite the children to suggest the meaning of these words (see ‘Preparation and materials’ above).
The children playing Jesus and his disciples come up to the front. Hand out the crosses and/or palm fronds to the ‘crowd’, if using.
Narrator When Jesus was close to Jerusalem, he sent two of his disciples to bring a donkey to him. Jesus said:
Jesus Go to the village nearby and you will find a donkey there. Bring it to me and if anyone questions you, tell them, 'My master needs it.'
The disciples walk off and then return with the child playing the donkey, wearing the donkey mask.
Narrator The disciples went and did as they were told and brought the donkey to Jesus. He got on it and rode in to Jerusalem.
Jesus and his disciples then process round the assembly space with the donkey, accompanied by the music composed and played by the children or the recorded music.
Narrator Crowds of people spread their cloaks on the ground and some cut down branches from the palm trees to put on the road. The crowd all shouted and waved palm branches.
All Hosanna to the Son of David!
Display the card or image with these words and encourage the children to shout the phrase many times and wave the crosses and/or palm fronds.
Then, display the lyrics to your final chosen song and have all the children sing.
Time for reflection
The crowd welcomed Jesus on Palm Sunday, but just a few days later they turned against him. Are you always loyal and trustworthy with your friends? Think of how you might show your friends that you care for them all the time.
After a few minutes of quiet, invite the children to contribute their ideas.
You rode in to the city of Jerusalem in triumph on Palm Sunday and the people welcomed you as their king.
By Friday the crowd had turned against you and were shouting 'Crucify him!'
Help us always to be loyal to our friends.
Lord Jesus, may our love for you always be strong, now and for ever.
The children then process out of the assembly, waving their crosses and/or palm fronds, if using, and singing the chorus from one of the chosen songs.
Suggested recorded processional music, the Triumphant March from Aida by Verdi.
'All glory, laud and honour' (Hymns Old and New (Kevin Mayhew), 12, 2008 edition)
'Hosanna, Hosanna' (Hymns Old and New (Kevin Mayhew),314, 2008 edition)
'Trotting, trotting' (Come and Praise, 112)
'We have a king who rides a donkey' (Hymns Old and New (Kevin Mayhew),799, 2008 edition)