Historic Trinity
Historic Trinity altar with Lenten paraments and the Maundy Thursday Fair Linen used only once a year

Maundy Thursday

Maundy Thursday is observed on the day before Good Friday. The name is derived from the Latin dies mandati , the Day of Commandment, referring to the words of the Gospel John 13: 14-15, “You also ought to wash one another’s feet,”, and to verse 34, “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another,” as well as, the command of the Epistle, I Corinthians 11: 24-25, “This do in remembrance of Me.” Three commandments:

  1. Wash one another's feet
  2. Love one another
  3. This do in remembrance of Me.

Anciently, three masses were appointed: for the reconciliation of penitents; for the consecration of the holy oils; and for the special commemoration of the Institution of the Lord’s Supper. They blessed the oils to be used at the Service of Baptism and Confirmation at Eastertide and for the consecration of bishops, the dedication of churches, altars, bells, etc. Yet today, in Catholic churches the holy oils are blessed.

The feet washing rite, on Maundy Thursday still survives in some localities and churches. In England, the rite was performed by the sovereigns to as many paupers as the sovereign was years old, James II, being the last to observe it. The royal Maundy alms are still distributed at Westminster Abbey annually, although the special Maundy coins are no longer minted.

In some churches after the Maundy Thursday Holy Communion Service, the organ remains silent, the bells are not rung, and the altar is stripped. The officiating minister, vested in violet surplice and stole, goes to the altar with his assistants and there they recite Psalm 22 with the antiphon, “They parted my garments among them.” Everything is removed from the altar so that it is completely bare. The altar itself is then washed, the sacred vessels are washed and polished, and the sacred linens and vestments are cleansed and made ready for Easter.

Take a virtual visit to one of our Maundy Thursday services for the year of your choice


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Historic Trinity Lutheran Church
1345 Gratiot Avenue
Detroit, Michigan 48207
Phone: (313) 567-3100
Fax: (313) 567-3209
Email: Historic Trinity