Preparing for Holy Week, Part 1: Palm Sunday

Adam Bartlett

Mar 6, 2024

This is the first part in a 5-part series on the music of Holy Week. 


Holy Week is the most solemn and important week in the liturgical year. And as a parish music leader, it can also be one of the most challenging.

As most parish musicians know, it is far more than merely adding three additional liturgies to your weekly Mass schedule. The liturgies of Holy Week each have their own character with unique ritual elements and rubrics that need to be meticulously followed by all. 

Are we starting inside or outside? Which form are we using? When do the lights turn on? Will the singers be able to see their binders? Who is singing the Exsultet? Where does the choir stand in the procession? When and what do we need to sing during the Baptismal Liturgy? How is Father supposed to sing the Easter Alleluia?

The list could go on and on. 

Fortunately, tools like the Source & Summit Digital Platform can serve as your trusted guide through the holiest of weeks, helping keep everyone on the same page (quite literally) and giving you confidence that the right music will be sung at the right times, beautifully and prayerfully.

Here are some helpful tips, along with some scores and audio recordings from Source & Summit, to help you prepare for a beautiful and solemn Palm Sunday at your parish:

Palm Sunday Preparation Guide

The Mass for Palm Sunday begins with a memorial of Christ’s entrance into Jerusalem, which can take one of three possible forms: 

  1. The Procession

  2. The Solemn Entrance

  3. The Simple Entrance

The Procession

The first and most solemn form is the Procession, which typically occurs before the principal Mass on Sunday. While the Solemn Entrance can be repeated at several Masses, the Procession should only be done prior to one Mass on Palm Sunday.

The Procession begins outside, apart from the church, or even in a nearby chapel. While the Priest and Deacon approach the assembly, with palm branches in hand, the antiphon Hosanna to the Son of David is sung with psalm verses added as needed to cover the entrance of the ministers. 

After the prayer and blessing of the branches with holy water, and following the conclusion of the Gospel reading, the Procession begins. The Procession, strictly speaking, is an extended procession toward the church. A more solemn form of this procession might involve a route that journeys through or circumambulates the parish grounds.

The Roman Missal provides two antiphons and a hymn to be sung during this procession, all with multiple verses. There is enough music here to cover a 15-minute procession at least. Each musical setting has a refrain that can be sung by all. Children who hear these chants year after year will certainly memorize them and internalize them as a symbol of the children of the Hebrews welcoming Christ into Jerusalem. The Church invites us to make this procession, along with its chants, an annual sign of our entry into Holy Week.

Once the procession enters the church, the chants for the procession conclude and the Entrance Chant As the Lord entered the holy city begins. It is a responsory that signifies Christ’s arrival into the holy city of Jerusalem where he has come to meet his death and to redeem the world.

Click here to view and listen to the chants of the Procession in an Ordo created on the Source & Summit Digital Platform:

Palm Sunday: The Procession

The Solemn Entrance

The second form is the Solemn Entrance, which may be repeated at several Masses on Palm Sunday. If the Procession has already occurred or if it is planned for another Mass, the Solemn Entrance should be used instead.

The Solemn Entrance, as a simplified form of the Procession, begins ordinarily outside the church, in front of the door, or even inside the church itself. The priest and ministers and some members of the congregation go to a place that is visible to all but apart from the sanctuary while the Hosanna to the Son of David chant is sung, just as in the Procession. 

At the conclusion of the Gospel reading, instead of singing the chants for the procession, the Entrance Chant As the Lord entered the holy city is sung immediately as the Priest and ministers approach the altar.

Palm Sunday: The Solemn Entrance

The Simple Entrance

The third form for the beginning of the Palm Sunday Mass is the Simple Entrance, which is not intended for ordinary use and only for smaller gatherings outside of the principal parish celebrations of Palm Sunday. This form omits the introductory chants entirely as well as the Gospel reading.

It is important to remember that, while the General Instruction of the Roman Missal permits the use of the Simple Entrance in certain cases, it also underscores the importance of the Commemoration of the Lord’s Entrance into Jerusalem, saying:

“It is desirable that, where neither the Procession nor the Solemn Entrance can take place, there be a sacred celebration of the Word of God on the messianic entrance and on the passion of the Lord, either on Saturday evening or on Sunday at a convenient time.”

The Simple Entrance has its own Entrance Antiphon, Six days before the Passover, also a responsory, which illustrates Christ’s entry into Jerusalem in brief. 

Palm Sunday: The Simple Entrance

Pro Tips for Palm Sunday:

  • Be sure to determine which Masses will be using the Procession, Solemn Entrance, and Simple Entrance ahead of time and plan accordingly.

  • When in doubt, check the Roman Missal. For simplified rubrics that help musicians know what is important for them, you can access them right in Ordos created in Source & Summit.

  • Many parishes customarily sing All Glory, Laud and Honor as an opening hymn for Palm Sunday. Keep in mind that this text is proper to the Procession before Mass, and that an official version of it is found in the Roman Missal itself for that purpose. Consider switching to the Entrance Antiphon when the priest and ministers enter the church and approach the altar.

  • The Passion readings have no official “parts” in the Lectionary. The USCCB liturgy office allows publishers to prepare their own part arrangements when desired. The Palm Sunday Passion reading can be set to either 3 or 4 parts with a click, and exported in PDF format to print for your readers.

  • Learning all of the chants of Holy Week can be a challenge for your choir. Any Ordos you create with Source & Summit have beautiful and inspiring practice recordings for the majority of these chants which you can share with your choir to help them practice and learn.

Simplify Your Holy Week Preparations

Sign up for a free 30-day trial on Source & Summit to begin preparing for Holy Week today and gain instant access to music scores, recordings, readings and rubrics that you can use to plan, share, print, and practice. 

All changes saved

First Sunday of Advent

December 3, 2023


Opening Hymn

Entrance Chant


First Reading

Responsorial Psalm




Offertory Hymn

Offertory Chant


Mystery of Faith

Agnus Dei

Communion Chant

Communion Hymn

Recessional Hymn



Reset · Browse

Creator of the Stars of Night









Chord Symbols


1 · This is a verse righ…

This is a verse righ…

2 · This is a verse righ…

3 · This is a verse righ…




Creator of the stars of Night

Opening Hymn


Ready to get started?

Contact us to request a quote, place an order, schedule a demo, or to discuss the needs of your parish. You can also start a free trial or request a free missal sample to get started right away.

Ready to get started?

Contact us to request a quote, place an order, schedule a demo, or to discuss the needs of your parish. You can also start a free trial or request a free missal sample to get started right away.

Ready to get started?

Contact us to request a quote, place an order, schedule a demo, or to discuss the needs of your parish. You can also start a free trial or request a free missal sample to get started right away.