Askrigg’s Palm Sunday celebrations come out into the market place

Children gather at the Market Cross, Askrigg, to celebrate Palm Sunday and the start of holy week. Photo by Heather Hodgson.

A large congregation of all ages celebrated Palm Sunday yesterday at St Oswald’s Church in Askrigg.

Vicar Dave Clark, helped by his wife, Sarah, celebrated the traditional service, marking Jesus’s entry into Jerusalem on a donkey, with some modern twists. 

Everyone was encouraged to get involved, with the service and hymns projected onto a screen, enabling discussion during the service. The children came to the font to dress up as kings as the congregation made their own palm branches to wave during worship.

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With Dave on the ukelele and Sarah at the keyboard, choruses of Give me Joy in My Heart and Sing Hosanna rang out.

Worshippers then processed from the church to the market cross where  the vicar led the congregation in praise, prayers, thanks and more hymns at the service which marks the start of holy week.

People were delighted to see the worship come out into the street on a sunny spring morning. One, Val Halton, said on Facebook: “What an amazing chorus of voices from the church today! I have spoken with several people who were visiting and attended the service and they thought it was wonderful.”

Regular worshipper Heather Hodgson writes: “The children were encouraged to come to the front of the church, and in teams they created and decorated  a throne, fit for a king.  Dave had the entire congregation making palm branches from rolled paper, using  scissors and sticky tape to craft their creations. In addition, palm crosses were handed out by the children to the congregation, to be waved aloft during a rousing rendition of Sing Hosanna, accompanied by Sarah on the piano. Adults and children alike learned what it means to bring Jesus into our homes, and we discussed the fact that sometimes it’d be very easy to just leave him standing in the hallway!

“The best part of the whole service was when, led by Dave, we took church outside to Askrigg’s ancient village cross in the centre of the village. Together, as one, we sang Sing Hosanna, the sun beating down on us, neighbours and visitors coming out of their houses or stopping their cars to watch. It was quite a sight – young and old together, worshipping at an old stone cross, buoyed up by the ukulele.” 

Dave, recently appointed to the Upper Wensleydale benefice, is bringing his own style and enthusiasm to services. He and Sarah, both musicians, said they wanted to bring the service alive with music. They hope to do more of this style of worship, combined with the traditional services the church offers.

Said Sarah: “By projecting the words on to a screen the congregation is more engaged, not looking down at their hymn books.”

Benefice services this week include a service of reflection at St Oswald’s, Askrigg at 7pm on Maundy Thursday, on Good Friday a walk of witness from Gayle Chapel to St Margaret’s in Hawes, starting at 10am, and at 2.30pm an hour of reflection at the cross in Askrigg. On Easter Sunday there is a daybreak service on the foreshore of Lake Semerwater at 6am. Services of holy communion on Sunday are at St Mary and St John, Hardraw, 9am,  St Oswald’s, Askrigg, and St Margaret’s, Hawes, at 10.30am, and St Matthew’s, Stalling Busk, at 2.30pm.

Worshipping in the sunshine – Palm Sunday celebrations at St Oswald’s Church, Askrigg. Photo by Colin Anderson.