Holy Week is the week beginning with Palm/Passion Sunday and ending at the Eucharist of the Easter Vigil on Holy Saturday. While it falls within Lent, it represents an intensification of Lent and includes the Triduum, the Three Great Days.
Triduum is not a term used by the ’79 BCP. Nevertheless, attention to Triduum is perhaps one of the major differences between the ’79 BCP and all other Books of Common Prayer. Specific liturgies for Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, and Holy Saturday including an Easter Vigil particularly focus attention around this greatest festival of Christ’s self-giving, death, and resurrection.
Every day in Holy Week is an officially named holy day in the BCP. Holy Week begins with “The Sunday of the Passion: Palm Sunday,” extends from “Monday in Holy Week” through “Wednesday in Holy Week” before arriving at “Maundy Thursday,” “Good Friday,” and “Holy Saturday.”
Holy Week may start as early as March 15th or end as late as April 24th—giving a 40 day span within which these seven days may be located.
Under the early 20th century Pian rules, the first three weekdays of Holy Week are privileged ferias. Doubles of the First or Second Class were transferred until after the Easter octave; lesser feasts were commemorated at Vespers and Lauds. No commemorations were allowed during the Triduum.
Under the rules immediately before Vatican II, all the days in Holy Week were ferias of the first class. Feasts of the first class would be transferred until after the Easter octave; any lesser feasts would be omitted for the year without commemoration.
Thus the temporal days within Lent fell into the following categories; rank/order of precedence is per Ritual Notes:
|2||Feria, 1st Class||The last three days in Holy Week (Triduum)|
|6||Sunday, 1st Class||Palm Sunday|
|7||Feria, 1st Class||The first three days in Holy Week|
Within the “Rules to Order the Service” in the English 1662 BCP, rules 1 through 3 address, among other things, occurrence with the days of Holy Week. Rule 1 states that:
When some other greater Holy Day falls on…Palm Sunday or one of the fourteen days following…it shall be transferred as appropriate to the Tuesday after Easter 1…: except that if Easter Day falls on April 22nd, 24th or 25th, the festival of St. Philip and St. James shall be observed on the Tuesday of the week following Easter 1, and the festival of St. Mark shall be observed on the Thursday of that week.
Thus, Holy Days are transferred after the Octave of Easter and special rules are in force when said transference might interfere with other Holy Days.
Rule 2 prohibits a greater Holy Day from superseding Palm Sunday.
Rule 3 states, “A lesser Holy Day shall lapse if it falls…on Palm Sunday or any of the fourteen days following.”
The Table of Precedence in the American 1928 BCP follows the same principle, giving “All the days of Holy Week” precedence and transferring Holy Days to the next open day after the Octave of Easter.
The ’79 BCP agrees with both the classical Anglican and modern Roman rules. While the days of Holy Week are not ranked in the BCP’s minimalist system, a note under Holy Days clarifies their place:
Feasts appointed on fixed days in the calendar are not observed on the days of Holy Week or of Easter Week. Major Feasts falling in these weeks are transferred to the week following the Second Sunday of Easter, in the order of their occurrence. (p. 17)
Otherwise, only Good Friday is identified alongside Ash Wednesday as the other “Fast” under Class 3 Holy Days.
General Norms for the Liturgical Year (GNLY) gives all the weekdays of Holy Week “precedence over all other celebrations” (GNLY 16.1). While the ’79 BCP does not define the term Triduum, the GNLY does:
Christ redeemed humankind and gave perfect glory to God principally through his paschal mystery: dying he destroyed our death and rising he restored our life. Therefore the Easter triduum of the passion and resurrection of the Lord is the culmination of the entire liturgical year. Thus the solemnity of Easter has the same kind of preeminence in the liturgical year that Sunday has in the week.
The Easter triduum of the passion and resurrection of the Lord begins with the Evening Mass of the Lordʼs Supper, reaches its high point in the Easter Vigil, and closes with Evening Prayer on Easter Sunday, the Sunday of the Lordʼs resurrection.
On Good Friday and, if possible, also on Holy Saturday until the Easter Vigil, the Easter fast is observed everywhere.
The Easter Vigil, during the holy night when the Lord rose from the dead, ranks as the “mother of all holy vigils.” Keeping watch, the Church awaits Christʼs resurrection and celebrates it in the sacraments. Accordingly, the entire celebration of this vigil should take place at night, that is, it should either begin after nightfall or end before the dawn of Sunday. (GNLY 18-21)
Thus, the Roman reckoning of Triduum extends through Holy Week proper, encompassing the Sunday of the Resurrection as well as the preceding days.
The order of precedence established in the GNLY 59 is:
|1||I||Easter triduum of the Lordʼs passion and resurrection|
|2c||I||Weekdays of Holy Week from Monday to Thursday inclusive|
Liturgical Days within Holy Week
There are 2 Holy Days that may fall within Holy Week:
|Mar 19||Major Feast (3b)||St Joseph||A|
|Mar 25||Feast of our Lord (3a)||The Annunciation||g|
In each case, the feast is transferred outside of both Holy Week and the Octave of Easter as stated in the BCP: “Major Feasts falling in [this week] are transferred to the week following the Second Sunday of Easter, in the order of their occurrence” (p. 17). Given that the fall in quick succession, both feasts are often transferred. If this is the case, the feast of St Joseph should be placed on the Tuesday and the Annunciation on the Thursday after Easter 2 in order that the Eves of both feasts may be duly celebrated without concurrence with one another.
Days of Optional Observance
Days of Optional Observance that fall within Holy Week should lapse for the year.