Maundy Thursday

Updated: Mar 27

Exodus 12:1-4, 11-14

Psalm 116:1-2, 12-19

1 Corinthians 11:23-26

John 13:1-17, 31b-35


You can find a YouTube playlist here with many of the songs suggested below.



Gathering


Great God, your love has called us here (CH 484) is a good gathering song to a well known tune which references the events of Maundy Thursday in v4. Now, my tongue, the mystery telling (CH 667) also does this although probably only works if you are going to celebrate communion. Most congregations are likely to find Picardy rather than Pange Lingua a more accessible tune for this although the latter could work well for a choir or soloist to use as an introit or anthem. For those celebrating communion there are some more general songs you could consider such as Father most loving, listen to your children (CH 657), Jesus calls us here to meet him (CH 510) or Let us build a house (CH 198). The psalm can also offer a theme for gathering and there are some short songs which would work well with a smaller congregation such as I love you Lord (CH 770 / MP 287) and We are here to praise you (CH 802 / MP 717) while Let his praise be on our lips (Satellite) (with reference to “the darkest night”) and Here’s my heart (CCLI) are a bit longer but very accessible.



Word


The Psalm is the text for one of my favourite Gospel songs, I love the Lord, he heard my cry (PFAS 116C), setting a paraphrase by Isaac Watts. It might be familiar from a very elaborate version by Whitney Houston but you can hear a fairly straight version in the first verse here which can work congregationally. I love the Lord, because he heard (WGRG / WGRG) is featured in two different Wild Goose collections, one with a beautiful original tune and one with just the text and the suggestion of singing it to Martyrdom or Land of Rest. Unhelpfully for our purposes, the way the text of this psalm is split up in CH4 doesn’t match the lectionary. However, the two settings are the same metre and stress, so if you want to sing the verses from the lectionary you could add v1 of I love the Lord because he heard (CH 75) to the three verses of How can I ever thank the Lord (CH 76). You can then take your pick of either tune or alternatively use Kilmarnock which is suggested in the 1929 Scottish Psalter.



Response


The readings offer two main liturgical actions and many congregations will do either one or both of these on Maundy Thursday. If you are doing both foot washing and communion then And did you know? (WGRG) sung to Eventide and Because you had an upstairs room prepared (WGRG) sung to Sursum Corda can tie these together well.


The Gospel focuses on Jesus washing his disciples feet and Lord Jesus, as the shadows long are stealing (CH 372) is an interesting take on the discomforting intimacy of this while Jesu, Jesu, fill us with your love (Hope) is a short song from Ghana which is fairly well known. The simple Taizé chant Ubi caritas (CH 801) is often used for this as well while the end of the passage also makes A new commandment (MP 1) an obvious option. Interestingly this is a story which has inspired a lot of contemporary writers so All the room was hushed and still (Love each other) (CCLI), Humble King (MP 1098 / CCLI), To be like you (CCLI) and Love comes down (CCLI) are all options from well known writers while Lord I Come (Wash my feet) (link) is a less well known song well worth considering with a lovely simple chorus.


The Old Testament and Epistle connect with Passover and Communion and The song of the supper (WGRG) and Twas on that night when doomed to know (CH 376) both tell this story. Other songs which could give an invitation to communion are We are coming Lord to the table (WGRG), Come to the table of grace (Hope), The table (CCLI), Behold the Lamb (CCLI / Getty) and Remembrance (The Communion Song) (CCLI). Even if you don’t normally sing an Agnus Dei (Lamb of God) as part of your communion service it would be very appropriate here and there are huge number of settings available in different styles, such as Lamb of God (CH 653), Lamb of God (CH 778), O Lamb of God (CH 790) and Mass of Communion - Lamb of God (CCLI). Short chants such as Eat this bread, drink this cup (CH 661), Bread of life, hope of the world (CH 663) and Jesus, you are the bread we long for (OCP) are great for small communion services. They can be used both before and during and fit well with the reflective nature of Holy Week.



Sending


This is the night, dear friends (CH 375) would be an ideal hymn to close, summing up what has happened on Maundy Thursday while looking towards Easter weekend while Lord Jesus, as the shadows long are stealing (CH 372), Lay down your head Lord Jesus Christ (CH 371) and An Upper Room did our Lord prepare (Hymnary) have a similar narrative. According to thy gracious word (CH 668 / New Scottish) focuses more on our response and need to remember, and there are options of either an 18th century hymn tune or an interesting contemporary version from New Scottish Hymns. While it isn’t part of the lectionary readings, the next event after the meal and the foot washing is for Jesus to go to Gethsemane where he asks his disciples to stay with him while he prays and you could link to that with the beautiful Watch and pray (link), which was written for a Maundy Thursday all night prayer meeting, or with the classic short chant Stay with me (CH 793 / Taizé).


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