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About the Service

Before the fifth century there seems to have been no services on Monday, Tuesday, or Wednesday of Holy Week, and there has never been much of an attempt to reconstruct liturgically the day-by-day chronology of Holy Week. The emphasis has always been on the Passion as a whole. The emphasis continues to fall, as it always has, on the Sunday of the Passion and the Triduum, the three sacred days of Thursday, Friday, and Saturday — seen as one celebration — in which are commemorated the central events of Christianity. Each day of this triduum needs the other two to complete the account, the doctrine, and the proclamation.

Maundy is an English form of the Latin word for commandment, maundatum. The overarching theme of the day is Jesus’ new commandment to “love one another even as I have loved you,” a love sharply focused by the contrast of the betrayal which followed. Jesus’ love is demonstrated both in his example of servanthood and in his gift of himself in Holy Communion.

Adapting for Home Use

Because the Maundy Thursday is focused around confession, absolution, Holy Communion, and the washing of feet, it could seem that it might be impossible to celebrate this service in homes. However, there are ways to adapt the service for usage in homes. Consider assigning a Leader (L) and the Congregation (C) or rotate the Leader part among everyone with you. Below, all Leader parts do not need to be led by a pastor. Still take time to confess your sin to one another, and in a home setting, you can extend the foot-washing to allow everyone to wash each other’s feet (or if alone, to reflect and meditate on the meaning of Christ washing his disciple’s — and your — feet as a servant). Then, instead of the Eucharist, consider sharing an agapé (love) meal together with whoever might be with you. For the stripping of the altar, consider using a red tablecloth and stripping it at the appropriate time in the service.



I Love the Lord (Psalm 116)

Isaac Watts and Latifah Alattas

He heard my cries, He bowed his ear
And chased my griefs away
O let my heart no more despair
While I have breath, breath to pray

I love the Lord // He chased my griefs away
Despair no more // And use this breath to pray
I love the Lord // He chased my griefs away
Despair no more // And use this breath to pray
To pray, to pray

My flesh declined, my spirits fell
And I drew near the dead
Return my soul to God thy rest for
Thou hast known known His love

My God I cried thy servant save
Thy power can rescue me from the grave
My God I cried thy servant save
Thy power can rescue me from the grave
The grave

My God hath saved my soul from death
And dried my falling tears
Now to His praise I’ll spend my breath
And my remain, remaining years



An Instruction, recalling the season of Lent and interpreting the actions of the Maundy Thursday Liturgy, concludes the Sermon:
L    In this Lenten season we have heard our Lord’s call to intensify our struggle against sin, death and the devil—all that keeps us from loving God and each other. This is the struggle to which we were committed at Baptism; God’s forgiveness and the power of his Spirit to amend our lives continue with us because of his love for us in Jesus, our Savior. [We have shared this discipline of Lent with new brothers and sisters in Christ who will be baptized at the Easter Vigil.]
Within the community of his Church, God never wearies of giving peace and new life. In the declaration of forgiveness, we receive forgiveness as from God himself. This we should not doubt, but firmly believe that thereby our sins are forgiven before God in heaven, for it comes to us in the name and by the command of our Lord.
We who receive God’s love in Jesus Christ are called to love one another, to be servants to each other as Jesus became our servant. Our commitment to this loving service is signified in the washing of feet, following the example the Lord gave us on the night before his death.
[It is, however, in the Holy Communion that the members of Christ’s body participate most intimately in his love. Remembering our Lord’s last supper with his disciples, we eat the bread and share the cup of this meal. Together we receive the Lord’s gift of himself and participate in that new covenant which makes us one in him. The Eucharist is the promise of the great banquet we will share with all the faithful when our Lord returns, the culmination of our reconciliation with God and each other.]
On this night let us confess our sin against God and our neighbor, and enter the celebration of the great Three Days reconciled with God and with one another.


L    Let us [kneel and] make confession to God.

C    Almighty God, merciful Father: I, a troubled and penitent sinner, confess to you all my sins and iniquities with which I have offended you and for which I justly deserve your punishment. But I am sorry for them, and repent of them, and pray for your boundless mercy. For the sake of the suffering and death of your Son, Jesus Christ, be gracious and merciful to me, a poor sinful being; forgive my sins, give me your Holy Spirit for the amendment of my sinful life, and bring me to life everlasting. Amen

Declaration of Forgiveness

L    Almighty God in his mercy has given his Son to die for us and, for his sake, forgives us all our sins. Through his Holy Spirit he cleanses us and gives us power to proclaim the mighty deeds of God who called us out of darkness into the splendor of his light. [As a called and ordained minister of the Church of Christ and by his authority, I therefore declare to you the entire forgiveness of all your sins, in the name of the Father, and of the T Son, and of the Holy Spirit.]
C    Amen

If a minister is present, those gathered may come forward and kneel. The minister, laying both hands on each person’s head, addresses each in turn:
L    In obedience to the command of our Lord Jesus Christ, I forgive you all your sins.
R    Amen]



L    The peace of the Lord be with you always.
C    And also with you.
The ministers and congregation may greet one another in the name of the Lord, and then remain standing for the Prayer of the Day.

Prayer of the Day

L    The Lord be with you.
C    And also with you.
L    Let us pray. Holy God, source of all love, on the night of his betrayal, Jesus gave his disciples a new commandment: To love one another as he had loved them. By your Holy Spirit write this commandment on our hearts; through your Son, Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.
C    Amen


First Lesson

L    A reading from Jeremiah.

Jeremiah 31:31-34

31 The days are surely coming, says the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah. 32 It will not be like the covenant that I made with their ancestors when I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt—a covenant that they broke, though I was their husband, says the Lord. 33 But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the Lord: I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. 34 No longer shall they teach one another, or say to each other, “Know the Lord,” for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest, says the Lord; for I will forgive their iniquity, and remember their sin no more.
L    The word of the Lord.
C    Thanks be to God.


Psalm 116:1-2, 12-19

1 I love the Lord, because he has heard the voice of my | supplication,*
because he has inclined his ear to me whenever I | called upon him.
2 The cords of death entangled me; the grip of the grave took | hold of me;*
I came to | grief and sorrow.
12 I will fulfill my vows | to the Lord*
in the presence of | all his people.
13 Precious in the sight | of the Lord*
is the death | of his servants.
14 O Lord, I | am your servant;*
I am your servant and the child of your handmaid;
you have freed me | from my bonds.
15 I will offer you the sacrifice | of thanksgiving*
and call upon the name | of the Lord.
16 I will fulfill my vows | to the Lord*
in the presence of | all his people,
17 in the courts of | the Lord‘s house,*
in the midst of you, O Jerusalem. | Hallelujah!

Second Lesson

L    A reading from First Corinthians.

1 Corinthians 11:17-32

17 Now in the following instructions I do not commend you, because when you come together it is not for the better but for the worse. 18 For, to begin with, when you come together as a church, I hear that there are divisions among you; and to some extent I believe it. 19 Indeed, there have to be factions among you, for only so will it become clear who among you are genuine. 20 When you come together, it is not really to eat the Lord’s supper. 21 For when the time comes to eat, each of you goes ahead with your own supper, and one goes hungry and another becomes drunk. 22 What! Do you not have homes to eat and drink in? Or do you show contempt for the church of God and humiliate those who have nothing? What should I say to you? Should I commend you? In this matter I do not commend you!

23 For I received from the Lord what I also handed on to you, that the Lord Jesus on the night when he was betrayed took a loaf of bread, 24 and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, “This is my body that is for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” 25 In the same way he took the cup also, after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.” 26 For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.

27 Whoever, therefore, eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be answerable for the body and blood of the Lord. 28 Examine yourselves, and only then eat of the bread and drink of the cup. 29 For all who eat and drink without discerning the body, eat and drink judgment against themselves. 30 For this reason many of you are weak and ill, and some have died. 31 But if we judged ourselves, we would not be judged. 32 But when we are judged by the Lord, we are disciplined so that we may not be condemned along with the world.
L    The word of the Lord.
C    Thanks be to God.


C    Return to the Lord, your God, for he is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love.

Gospel Lesson

L    The Holy Gospel according to St. John, the 13th chapter.
C    Glory to you, O Lord.

John 13:1-17, 31b-35

1 Now before the festival of the Passover, Jesus knew that his hour had come to depart from this world and go to the Father. Having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end. 2 The devil had already put it into the heart of Judas son of Simon Iscariot to betray him. And during supper 3 Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he had come from God and was going to God, 4 got up from the table, took off his outer robe, and tied a towel around himself. 5 Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet and to wipe them with the towel that was tied around him. 6 He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, “Lord, are you going to wash my feet?” 7 Jesus answered, “You do not know now what I am doing, but later you will understand.” 8 Peter said to him, “You will never wash my feet.” Jesus answered, “Unless I wash you, you have no share with me.” 9 Simon Peter said to him, “Lord, not my feet only but also my hands and my head!” 10 Jesus said to him, “One who has bathed does not need to wash, except for the feet, but is entirely clean. And you are clean, though not all of you.” 11 For he knew who was to betray him; for this reason he said, “Not all of you are clean.”

12 After he had washed their feet, had put on his robe, and had returned to the table, he said to them, “Do you know what I have done to you? 13 You call me Teacher and Lord—and you are right, for that is what I am. 14 So if I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. 15 For I have set you an example, that you also should do as I have done to you. 16 Very truly, I tell you, servants are not greater than their master, nor are messengers greater than the one who sent them. 17 If you know these things, you are blessed if you do them.

31b Now the Son of Man has been glorified, and God has been glorified in him. 32 If God has been glorified in him, God will also glorify him in himself and will glorify him at once. 33 Little children, I am with you only a little longer. You will look for me; and as I said to the Jews so now I say to you, ‘Where I am going, you cannot come.’ 34 I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another. 35 By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”
L    The Gospel of the Lord.
C    Praise to you, O Christ.


Washing of Feet

The washing of feet may follow. The leader puts on an apron or a towel, and washes the feet of those gathered together. During the washing of the feet, the following hymn is sung (other hymns may be sung also).


Where Charity and Love Prevail (Ubi Caritas et Amor)

Omer Westendorf and Paul Benoit, translated from an 8th century Latin hymn

Where charity and love prevail, there God is ever found;
Brought here together by Christ’s love, by love are we thus bound.

With grateful joy and holy fear His charity we learn;
Let us with heart and mind and soul now love him in return.

Forgive we now each other’s faults as we our faults confess;
And let us love each other well in Christian holiness.

Let strife among us be unknown, let all contention cease;
Be His the glory that we seek, be ours His holy peace.

Let us recall that in our midst dwells God’s begotten Son;
As members of His body joined, we are in Him made one.

No race or creed can love exclude, if honored be God’s name;
Our family embraces all whose Father is the same.

Washer of Feet

Nelson Koscheski, Ryan Flanigan, Matthew Macaulay

Let us praise Jesus, the Washer of Feet;
Jesus, the Lordly who gave up his Seat;
Jesus, the Maker of all that there is;
Jesus, the Servant to all who are his.

We praise Jesus
We praise Jesus

Let us praise Jesus, the Blesser of Bread;
Jesus, the Off’ring who suffered and bled;
Jesus, the Royal who knelt in the dust;
Jesus, the Priest in whose Blessing we trust.

Let us praise Jesus, the Shepherd alone;
Jesus, the Lover who gathers His own;
Jesus, the Wounded who died for us all;
Jesus, the Christ on whose goodness we call.

Let us praise Jesus, the Savior adored;
Jesus, the Sonnet of praise to our Lord;
Jesus, the Gracious whose own life He gave;
Jesus, the Lowly who came down to save.



L    Let us pray for the whole people of God in Christ Jesus, and for all people according to their needs.
After each portion of the prayers:
L    Lord, in your mercy,
C    hear our prayer.
The prayers conclude:
L    Into your hands, O Lord, we commend all for whom we pray, trusting in your mercy; through your Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.
C    Amen



The Offering is received. If holding an agapé meal, the table is prepared (along with special offerings for the hungry).



C    What shall I render to the Lord for all his benefits to me? I will offer the sacrifice of thanksgiving and will call on the name of the Lord. I will take the cup of salvation and will call on the name of the Lord. I will pay my vows to the Lord now in the presence of all his people, in the courts of the Lord’s house, in the midst of you, O Jerusalem.

L    Let us pray. Merciful Father,
C    we offer with joy and thanksgiving what you have first given us—our selves, our time, and our possessions, signs of your gracious love. Receive them for the sake of him who offered himself for us, Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen
[If a minister present, the service may continue with Holy Communion.]

Agapé Meal

If it is desired to share an agapé meal during Maundy Thursday, the following order may be observed.
A meatless meal is to be preferred, as the great feast will not begin until Easter. The setting should be austere and the foods sparse and simple. Appropriate foods include soup, cheese, olives, dried fruit, bread, and wine.
The following blessings are recited by the Leader at the beginning of the meal, all standing.

Over the Food
Blessed are you, O Lord our God, King of the universe. You have blessed the earth to bring forth food to satisfy our hunger. Let this food strengthen us in the fast that is before us, that following our Savior in the way of the cross, we may come to the joy of his resurrection. For yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory, now and for ever. Amen

During the meal or toward its close, a person appointed reads the seventeenth chapter of the Gospel according to John. The agapé concludes with a psalm, such as Psalm 69:1-23, or with a song, or with a prayer, or with a blessing or dismissal before continuing with the stripping of the altar.


Stripping of the Altar

Linens, paraments, ornaments, and candles are typically removed from the altar and chancel. If celebrating at home, consider stripping various decorations around your home until Easter. If you shared an agapé meal, strip the table of tablecloth and other items, leaving it bare.
As this is done, Psalm 22 is sung or said.

Psalm 22 (My God, My God, Why Have You Abandoned Me)

Owen Alstott

1 My God, my God, why have you for- | saken me*
and are so far from my cry, and from the words of | my distress?
2 O my God, I cry in the daytime, but you | do not answer;*
by night as well, but I | find no rest.
3 Yet you are the | Holy One,*
enthroned upon the prais- | es of Israel.
4 Our forefathers put their | trust in you;*
they trusted, and you de- | livered them.
5 They cried out to you and | were delivered;*
they trusted in you and were not | put to shame.
6 But as for me, I am a worm | and no man,*
scorned by all and despised | by the people.
7 All who see me laugh | me to scorn;*
they curl their lips and wag | their heads, saying,
8 “He trusted in the Lord; let him de- | liver him;*
let him rescue him, if he de- | lights in him.”
9 Yet you are he who took me out | of the womb,*
and kept me safe upon my | mother’s breast.
10 I have been entrusted to you ever since | I was born;*
you were my God when I was still in my | mother’s womb.
11 Be not far from me, for trou- | ble is near,*
and there is | none to help.
12 Many young bulls en- | circle me;*
strong bulls of Ba- | shan surround me.
13 They open wide their | jaws at me,*
like a ravening and a | roaring lion.
14 I am poured out like water; all my bones are | out of joint;*
my heart within my breast is | melting wax.
15 My mouth is dried out like a pot-sherd;
my tongue sticks to the roof | of my mouth;*
and you have laid me in the dust | of the grave.
16 Packs of dogs close me in, and gangs of evildoers cir- | cle around me;*
they pierce my hands and my feet, I can count | all my bones.
17 They stare and gloat | over me;*
they divide my garments among them; they cast lots | for my clothing.
18 Be not far a- | way, O Lord;*
you are my strength; hast- | en to help me.
19 Save me | from the sword,*
my life from the power | of the dog.
20 Save me from the | lion’s mouth,*
my wretched body from the horns | of wild bulls.
21 I will declare your name | to my brethren;*
in the midst of the congregation | I will praise you.
22 Praise the Lord, | you that fear him;*
stand in awe of him, O offspring of Israel; all you of Jacob’s | line, give glory.
23 For he does not despise nor abhor the poor in their poverty;
neither does he hide his | face from them;*
but when they cry to | him he hears them.
24 My praise is of him in the | great assembly;*
I will perform my vows in the presence of those who | worship him.
25 The poor shall eat and be satisfied,
and those who seek the | Lord shall praise him:*
“May your heart | live forever!”
26 All the ends of the earth shall remember and turn | to the Lord,*
and all the families of the nations shall | bow before him.
27 For kingship belongs | to the Lord;*
he rules o- | ver the nations.
28 To him alone all who sleep in the earth bow | down in worship;*
all who go down to the dust | fall before him.
29 My soul shall live for him; my descend- | ants shall serve him;*
they shall be known as the | Lord‘s forever.
30 They shall come and make known to a people | yet unborn*
the saving deeds that | he has done.
There is no benediction. All leave the church in silence.

Resources compiled by the Rev. Andrew Ames Fuller, director of communications for the North American Lutheran Church and an ordained deacon in the Anglican Church in North America. Liturgies adapted from the Lutheran Book of Worship, ©1978 Augsburg Publishing House and Lutheran Church in America Publication Board and the Book of Common Prayer (1979).