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Palm Sunday

An assembly from the Culham St Gabriel archive

Suitable for Key Stage 3


To look at Jesus’ entry in to Jerusalem and whether or not he was the king prophets had spoken of many years before.

Preparation and materials

  • Familiarize yourself with the story of Palm Sunday by reading the passages Matthew 21.1–11 and Luke 19.28–44. This story is told in paraphrased form in the ‘Assembly’, Step 3.
  • You will need:

    – the song 'Hosanna' from Jesus Christ Superstar and the means to play it at the beginning and end of the assembly
    – a palm cross (your local priest or vicar should be able to help you obtain one)
    – a fake gold crown
    – a cardboard cut-out of a donkey small enough to be projected as a silhouette.
    – two images – the first of a map showing Jerusalem and Bethany and the second the verse Zechariah 9.9b (see the ‘Assembly’, Step 5) – and the means to display them during the assembly.


  1. Play the song ‘Hosanna’ from Jesus Christ Superstar as the students enter.

  2. Explain that the story today connects the music the students have just heard with the following objects:

    – cardboard donkey – show its silhouette
    – golden crown – hold it up so all can see
    – palm cross – hold this up, too.

  3. It is a story from the Christian faith, found in the New Testament. According to the Gospels, it happened a week before Jesus was put to death.

    Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem 

    Show the map of Jerusalem and Bethany.

    Jesus and his disciples were walking to Jerusalem and they stopped a little distance away near a village called Bethany. Jesus said to two of his disciples, 'Go into that village and when you see a young donkey, untie it and bring it to me.' The disciples said, 'We can't do that – it's stealing! What will the owner think?' Jesus said, 'Don't worry, just say to the owner "The Lord needs him."'

    Show the donkey silhouette.

    The disciples went into the village and, as they were untying the donkey, the owner rushed out and said, 'Oi! What are you doing? That's my donkey!' The disciples said, 'The Lord needs him.' The owner smiled and replied, 'That's OK, then.' 

    They took the donkey to Jesus, who then sat on it and started to ride in to Jerusalem. When people saw him, they became very excited and grabbed palm leaves from the trees to wave. They put their coats and more palm leaves on the ground in front of the donkey, like they would if the king was coming in to the city. Everybody shouted out, 'Hosanna to the Son of David!'

  4. Point out to the students that they have seen how the music and donkey are connected to the story and they might have realized that the cross is made from palm leaf fronds, which have been dried out, but what is the connection with this? (Hold up the crown.) Ask them if anyone has any ideas? 

    If appropriate, each student could tell her or his neighbour. Otherwise, hold a short question and answer session.

  5. Show the image of the verse Zechariah 9.9b

    Say that these words were written many years before Jesus was born and they were a prophesy about his life, then read them out:

    . . .  your King comes to you; triumphant and victorious is he, humble and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey.

    The connection between the crown and the story is that Jesus is treated like a king. When the people saw Jesus riding on the donkey, they thought of Zechariah’s prophesy and believed that he was the king he said would come to save them.

  6. Ask the students to think about the answer to this question: 'Were the people right?'

Time for reflection

Pausing between each object, show the map, donkey, palm cross and, finally, the crown as you play the song ‘Hosanna’ again.

Allow one minute of quiet after the music finishes before the students leave. 

Publication date: March 2015   (Vol.17 No.3)    Published by SPCK, London, UK.
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