Liturgical Customary of the Church of the Advent, Boston

© Julianne E. Turé and William J. Theisen 1999

The Liturgical Customary of the Church of the Advent
Holy Week: Maundy Thursday


The color of the Mass is white. However, the crucifix on the second gradine of the High Altar and the processional cross are all veiled in purple. All the images and crosses in side chapels are veiled in purple. Side chairs are removed from the choir. Flowers may be placed on the High Altar. Votive stands are removed from before the shrines; the prie-dieux remain. The holy water stoups at the Mt. Vernon and Brimmer Street doors are emptied and covered over.

The Lady Chapel Altar is the designated Altar of Repose and will be decorated by the Flower Guild. MC should review the flowers in the Chapel to be sure there will be room for all servers during the Transfer of the Blessed Sacrament. The frontal is white. The crucifix is removed from the top of the tabernacle. Four kneelers are placed for acolytes (in front of the two prie-dieux) and thurifers (adjacent to lowest altar step). The credence cloth is removed from the Lady Chapel credence. The Sanctus bell and mallet, missal stand and lectern are removed from the Lady Chapel. A corporal is spread on the Lady Chapel Altar.

Servers light all candles on all altars before the Mass. There are usually a great many candles in the Lady Chapel for the Watch; sufficient time for their lighting should be set aside. Servers remove the dust covers from all altars.

MC sets the following: book containing Footwashing rite at sedilia; handbells for SMs and servers where they can be easily retrieved but not knocked over; a wooden rattle (crotalus) near the sacring bell at the credence; maniples at sedilia to be donned at Offertory; a humeral veil at the High Altar sedilia; a white cope behind the reredos; and, at the credence, a veil and ribbon furnished by the Altar Guild for the ciborium to be used for the Vigil at the Altar of Repose.

The Altar Guild prepares a basin, towels, pitcher of warm water, and a plate of coins. The Altar Guild will also place a table covered with a linen cloth in front of the north choir stalls. Servers place basin, towels, water pitcher, and plate of coins on table. Twelve chairs are set up in the choir, six on either side, for those who will have their feet washed.

MC places towels, a bowl of water, a bottle of vinegar, and dried palms on the sofe in the Priests' Sacristy. Altar Guild lays out oxblood stoles for the Stripping of the Altars in the Priests' Sacristy. The Stripping of the Altars is done with SMs in albs and oxblood stoles.

Sacristan will have negotiated with clergy the number of people's wafers for distribution at this Mass and for reservation. All peoples' wafers provided should be consecrated in this Mass, including two Priests' Hosts. All peoples' wafers must fit in one ciborium. The usual amount of wine for a Solemn Mass should be provided; the wine will not be reserved for Good Friday (Communion will be administered in only one kind on that day).

The readings are those for Maundy Thursday. The Gospel is John 13:1-15. The preface is that of Holy Week.

Twelve people are designated beforehand to have their feet washed. The verger will receive a master list from the office. They are instructed to check in with the verger before the service.

Servers and choir vest in cottas and black cassocks.

CEL charges and blesses incense in TH1’s thurible. TH2 does not carry a thurible at the Entrance.


All enter from the north crossing door and proceed to the chancel the "long way" (normal Sunday entrance) during the opening hymn. The procession is in the usual order except that TH2, without thurible, follows Verger and precedes Choir Clergy. TT do not carry torches at entrance.

All proceed to their customary places for the line-up, except for TH1, who stands at MC's right, and TH2, who stands to SD's left.

All genuflect and take their customary places in the ambit of the altar. TH2 takes his/her place at a chair provided near the aumbry. The altar is censed during the Introit. After the Kyrie, the cantor intones the Gloria, and servers then pick up their handbells and ring them furiously. The organist will begin a fanfare. When the fanfare is over servers stop ringing. The choir will then continue the Gloria.

With the exception of the bell-ringing during the Gloria (after which the organ will be silent until the Easter Vigil Gloria), the rites follow custom until the conclusion of the sermon.

The Verger does not escort the preacher to the pulpit on this night.


After sermon, MC cues ALL to stand. MC and SMs form at center and genuflect. Led by MC carrying book for footwashing, SMs proceed single file to the chancel steps (at the rood screen), where they face the congregation.


CEL reads the Invitation, after which he turns and, accompanied by other SMs and MC, proceeds to the step at the altar rail, where he kneels. D and SD remove CEL's chasuble. MC places it over the altar rail. MC gives the pitcher to D, a towel to the SD, the basin to CEL, and the plate with coins to an Assisting Priest or other assisting minister. After each washing, CEL takes a coin from the plate and gives it to the parishioner.

The persons designated to have their feet washed come forward when CEL concludes the invitation to the foot washing and turns to remove his chasuble. The verger prompts them as necessary. They sit on the chairs in the choir and remove shoes and stockings from their right feet only. They may replace shoes as soon as the celebrant has dried their feet and given them the token. They remain seated in the choir until CEL finishes the concluding prayers of the foot-washing rite. They return to their pews when the SMs genuflect and return to the sedilia.

After the footwashing, CEL goes to the step at the altar rail, where he kneels. MC retrieves chasuble. D and SD revest CEL in chasuble, while TH2 removes basin, towels, pitcher, and plate to smoke sacristy. Led by MC, SMs line up at altar steps and genuflect. CHOIR and SERVERS do NOT genuflect. MC and SMs proceed to the sedilia, SMs put on maniples, and sit. THE PEACE IS NOT EXCHANGED. TT exit to smoke sacristy.

The Offertory anthem is sung and the Mass continues as is customary until the conclusion of Communion. The MC clacks the crotalus at the times during the Canon when the Sanctus bell would otherwise be rung. There are interpolations in the Canon for this night only: "and on this night did institute, and in his holy Gospel command us to continue..." and "For in the night in which he was betrayed, even this night, he took bread ..."

After receiving Communion, TH1/TH2 exit to prepare coals for the Transfer of the Blessed Sacrament.

During Communion, an acolyte places the humeral veil on altar step near Epistle pavement light and brings the veil with ribbons for ciborium to the altar.

At the conclusion of Communion, MC signals TT to exit to retrieve their torches. They re-enter only on MC's cue (see below).


After Communion, the ciborium containing the Reserved Sacrament remains on the corporal. Other sacred vessels are abluted and removed to the credence. Leaving the corporal on the altar, SD veils chalice and gives it to Acolyte.

SMs take their usual positions for Post-Communion Prayer. After the prayer, they crab-walk to the sedilia and remove maniples. MC removes missal stand to credence. D and SD remove CEL's chasuble and drape it on the altar rail. MC retrieves cope from behind the reredos and gives it to D and SD, who vest CEL.

On MC's cue, TH1/TH2 lead TT in. Simultaneously, AA pick up their torches and go to center at the altar steps. AA meet TH1/TH2 (as if for Gospel procession) and all genuflect at MC's cue. AA take innermost places at the altar rail while TT take other processional places (one person in front of each silver medallion).

MC signals TH1/TH2, who are holding thuribles in left hands, to proceed to sedilia. TH1 gives boat to D. CEL puts incense on thuribles, but does not bless it. Thuribles are now carried in the right hand. TH1, SMs, MC, and TH2 form at altar steps and face altar:

[ altar ]

=================== ======================

ALL kneel. CEL receives thurible from TH on the left. ALL at altar steps make a profound bow. CEL censes the Blessed Sacrament. ALL at altar steps make a second profound bow. CEL hands off thurible. MC passes humeral veil to D, who puts it on CEL. After this point, reverences in the presence of the Blessed Sacrament will consist of a double genuflection. SMs will not turn their backs to the Sacrament.

SMs rise, proceed to footpace, and genuflect before the Blessed Sacrament. With D assisting, CEL takes the ciborium. SMs turn to face congregation. D and SD flank CEL and support his arms.

ALL stand. MC and servers turn to face congregation, except for TT, who turn in to center. CR goes to center, turns to congregation and is joined by AA.

A CR A lead the procession very solemnly - but not turgidly - down main nave aisle, through the Baptistry, and into the Lady Chapel. As the procession leaves the High Altar, Pange Lingua is sung. The verses of the hymn will be repeated as needed to cover the procession. In the side aisles, D and SD should move behind CEL. The order for the procession is:


In the Lady Chapel, ALL take the following positions:

[ altar ]
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CR(stands)  CM T  T  Verger

CEL places the Blessed Sacrament on the Corporal on the altar, as ALL OTHERS (except CR) kneel. The Sacrament will remain on the corporal on the Lady Chapel altar from this point until the Good Friday Liturgy. CEL double-genuflects on footpace, crabs down to the pavement, and takes his place at altar steps. D removes humeral veil from CEL and hands to MC.

TH on left passes thurible to CEL. ALL at altar steps bow profoundly. CEL censes the Blessed Sacrament during the singing of the doxology (verse 6) of Tantum ergo Sacramentum. ALL at altar steps bow profoundly. CEL hands off thurible.

ALL stand. All torches are extinguished. ALL, except CR, double genuflect. Led by CR, servers below the rail file out behind the organ console, move across the Chancel without reverencing, go behind the All Saints Altar, and leave via that exit. TH1/TH2, MC, SD, D, and CEL follow them.

In the sacristy, SMs remove white vestments. CEL and D put on oxblood stoles over albs. Other servers put away torches and processional cross, and remove cottas.

MC brings dried palms to smoke sacristy and places them with the pitcher of water and towels.


The Choir chants Psalm 22 as the sexton turns off lights in the sanctuary in pre-arranged sequence, beginning at the back and sides and moving forward.

While SMs prepare for the Stripping of the Altar, servers extinguish all candles. The hanging lamps are lowered and their flames blown out. It is advisable to let their glass cups cool before removing them; the lamps are to be left in lowered position. SMs remove items from the High Altar and hand them to servers. The fair linen and frontal should be removed before the candles so that the wax may have time to congeal before they are removed. Everything - including the rug, cushions, and flowers (with an assist from the Flower Guild) - must be removed from the High Altar, except the cross veiled in purple and the chairs and stools. The credence, the All Saints Altar, and the Baptistry are stripped as well. MC should make sure that the humeral veil is retrieved from the Lady Chapel. (At Maundy Thursday rehearsal, MC will have assigned specific tasks to each server.)

After the stripping is complete, SMs enter. CEL carries palm brush, D carries bowl of water, and SD carries towels. They proceed to the High Altar without reverencing, and purge the altar table with water and dried palms. They dry it with towels. When they have finished, they exit.

The watch before the Altar of Repose begins.

The watch concludes at midnight. A sexton, server or cleric is appointed to close the church at that time. The person designated enters the chapel vested in black cassock with the candle-lighter, double-genuflects at the foot of the steps, may kneel for a moment in silent prayer, and then rises and extinguishes all the candles except the hanging Presence lamp. S/he then double-genuflects and leaves the chapel. People will generally understand that this is the sign that the watch is over and leave voluntarily.