Ardess Parish Church near Kesh, Co. Fermanagh in the Diocese of Clogher, will this year be observing Holy Week and Easter with a special emphasis on music, and the theme for the week will be Discover the Cross this Easter. The Rector of the parish, the Revd Henry Blair explains that “the cross is central to the Christian faith and while we are happy to wear the cross as a piece of jewellery we never think about the real meaning that it has, the sacrifice and separation that it symbolises.”
Those who come along will hopefully be inspired by the message and music they hear, being drawn closer to God and, to quote Ephesians 5:19, be filled with the Spirit, as they sing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs among themselves, singing and making melody to the Lord in their hearts.
The services which will all have a substantial musical element throughout the week will commence on Palm Sunday, 1st April, at 8.00pm with an evening of contemporary Praise and Worship led by Ardess Worship Group, which comprises a range of voices and instruments including guitars, keyboard and drums. The Rector will be delivering an address at each of the occasions during the week, and at the Palm Sunday event he will speak on the subject a cross of sacrifice based around the biblical text from John 12:20-36.
The second service will take place on the Wednesday in Holy Week, 4th April, at 8.00pm. This service of sung Evensong will be using the musical setting of the Preces and Responses by Thomas Tallis. The Scriptural component of Evensong is striking, not only in the readings but in the singing, the canticles and the psalms, aiming to nourish the spiritual life of all. The address will be on the topic a cross of separation based on John 16:17-24. During the service choral and solo pieces will be performed by Ardess Church Choir along with a number of soloists including Emily Frazer, Kerri Neville and Julia Frazer. Special musical pieces, both old and new, will be included in the repertoire, including music by Mozart, Lloyd-Weber, Rutter and Townend.
On Maundy Thursday, 5th April, at 8.00pm a contemporary service of Holy Communion will be celebrated by the rector. Worship will again be led by Ardess Worship Group, and the sermon will focus on a cross of purpose based on John 17:6-19.
Good Friday, 6th April, will be marked at 8.00pm with a service of readings and music. A Tenebrae service in character, the series of readings from the gospel of John and the music will portray the time between the Last Supper and the Passion of Christ. Ardess Choir along with soloists Leah Buchanan, Emily Frazer, Kerri Neville and Julia Frazer will perform a number of musical works by composers such as Gibbons, Schubert, Fauré, Goodall, Getty and Townend. An epilogue entitled a cross of darkness will focus around John 19:1-19:30.
With rejoicing on Easter Sunday, 8th April, two morning services will be held in Ardess Church. At 9.30am Holy Communion will be celebrated in the traditional form, and then at 11.00am there will be a family Holy Communion service. The sermon at both services will be based on the subject a cross defeated with biblical inspiration from John 20:1-18.