The Sunday before Easter. The distinctive ceremonies of the day are the blessing of palms and, in the W., the procession representing the Lord's triumphal entry into Jerusalem.
An elaborate rite for blessing the palms developed in the Middle Ages, similar in structure to the Mass. In the C of E the ceremony was abolished in 1549 and only in recent times has a special rite for Palm Sunday been officially sanctioned in the Anglican Communion. In the RC Church the rite was simplified in 1955. There is now a general blessing of palms (or other greenery) held by the people, if possible in a different building from that in which the Mass is to be celebrated; the Gospel account of Christ's entry into Jerusalem is read, and, after a short homily, clergy and people process into the church singing the traditional ‘Gloria, laus’ (‘All glory, laud and honour’ by Theodulf of Orléans) or some other chant. The Mass which follows includes the chanting of the Passion. Modern Anglican rites follow a similar pattern. In the Byzantine rite, palms or olive branches are blessed and distributed at Mattins; a procession is not usual.