Holy Week in Southampton 1912

When the services of Holy Week were held 100 years ago in Southampton, England, port of launch for Titanic’s maiden voyage, sea-going men and women had no idea that it would likely be their last Holy Week—let alone their last full week—with their families.

Saturday, between Good Friday and Easter Sunday, was the designated day for crew to sign aboard Titanic. After the end of a six-week coal strike that had left Britain’s sea-going families impoverished, the joy of promised pay was something worth cheering.

In honor of Good Friday and as a tribute to Southampton, Titanic’s rigging was dressed in colorful flags and pennants. Even the ship looked as if it applauded the town’s newfound hope.

But that great joy turned to desperation just over a week later when news of Titanic’s foundering crept into Southampton with the Monday morning fog. Families who earned their bread by the sea knew that crew members were never first to enter lifeboats. And though they loved and respected the sea, they did not trust it.

538 of the 685 crew members lost hailed from Southampton–4 out of 5. Most were breadwinners for their families or elderly parents. A list of surviving first class passengers was quickly made public in London, but the complete list of surviving crew wasn’t posted until Friday morning in Southampton, often with only a last name. Because several families bore the same last name, loved ones were kept in terrible suspense as to who lived and who had died–a cruel and unnecessary blow to the families of that grieving town.

Judging by the memorial march and services held for Titanic’s crew, many families attended St. Mary’s Church. Holy Week had been observed before Easter and the ship’s maiden launch, but attention had been focused elsewhere, first in celebration for employment, and after the sinking, in terrible grief.  And yet, more than ever the families of Southampton needed the hope of the resurrection, the promise that one day the sea would give up her dead.

And so Titanic gives us more to ponder:  No matter how busy our lives, no matter what we have to celebrate or grieve, let us take time to walk purposefully through this Holy Week, contemplating each day and the meaning of each event during Jesus’s last earthly week:

Jesus’s triumphal entry into Jerusalem (Palm Sunday); His driving of moneychangers from the temple (Monday); Jesus’s teachings, and Judas’s laying of his plot (Tuesday); then a day we know little about but hope was a time of rest for our Lord (Wednesday); Jesus washed the feet of His disciples, then shared the Passover meal with them,  instituted the Lord’s Supper, and prayed in Gethsemane before His arrest (Thursday); Jesus’s trials, His crucifixion ending in death, His burial (all on Friday); and His days in the tomb (parts of three days).

Let us rise early Easter Sunday morning to celebrate with family and friends the resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ—the marked assurance that our ransom price was truly paid, and that a glorious future awaits—ransomed, redeemed, forgiven!

Let us walk into next week and all of life ahead with Easter in our hearts. It is what matters most, what we all need—most desperately, eternally.

A pleasant Easter memory from childhood:  My mother served hot cross buns before church on Easter morning, accompanied by a bit of fruit and a mug of strong and fragrant coffee or hot chocolate.  The little crosses of piped frosting reminded me of Jesus’s crucifixion, and the sweetness of the bread, His resurrection.  The bitter and the sweet–a reminder of His sacrificial gift of love for you and me.

I’ll see you here, next week, in the garden.

Happy, Happy Easter, and God’s richest blessings!

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  • A beautiful reminder to walk in the moment with purpose, joy, love, and faith. Thanks, Cathy. Have a blessed Resurrection celebration–The Passover Lamb of God LIVES!

  • Janice says:

    Cathy, this is brilliant! It’s also a beautiful reminder of the day we’re celebrating. Thank you so much!

  • Carrie says:

    This was so meaningful. Thanks for sharing. We had a special gathering this morning in honor of Good Friday with communion and time for prayer and contempation. It was very moving. Looking for to resurrection Sunday.

    • Cathy Gohlke says:

      It sounds like a wonderful service, Carrie. I love the services of Holy Week–such good reminders of all He’s done for us, and prompts for deeper contemplation.
      God’s blessings!

  • Peggy says:

    Great post, Cathy. I just finished “Promise Me This” last night, and I absolutely loved it! I’m still imagining the last scene (won’t five it away here). I hated for it to end, though. A sequel would be wonderful!

    • Cathy Gohlke says:

      Thanks so much, Peggy! I’m delighted you enjoyed “Promise Me This!” I loved the last scene, too. I think I’ll leave the sequel to your imagination. : )

      But a new book is coming out in September, “Band of Sisters.” It’s a completely different story–one I hope you’ll enjoy, too!

      Happy Easter!!

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