Maundy Thursday

This is an interesting article – Maundy Thursday Musings. Indeed we have two notions of Maundy Thursday. The Roman rite celebrates it as a feast with white vestments, the Gloria in excelesis and the transfer of the Blessed Sacrament to the altar of repose with the Pange lingua. On the other hand, the Sarum Use keeps it as a Passiontide celebration in bull’s blood vestments (my own Passiontide vestments are black with red orphreys) and without the Gloria (unless it is the Bishop’s Mass). I compromise and use bright red vestments. Three priest’s hosts are consecrated and two are put in the hanging pyx – one to be consumed at the Mass of the Presanctified on Good Friday and the other to be put into the Easter Sepulchre and back into the hanging pyx early on Easter Sunday morning.

This is quite a difference between the dramatic changes of tone between the Gloria with the bells, the rest of the Mass with the rattle, the triumphal Blessed Sacrament devotion around the Altar of Repose and the stripping of the altars – and the low-key Sarum Passiontide style with the emphasis on the Last Supper and the fact that Christ was already in intense spiritual suffering long before Judas and the guys from the Temple came to arrest him.

Fr Sean Finnegan gave a detailed description of this Mass in the Sarum Use – Sarum Maundy Thursday. In particular, he notes that there is no difference between the Maundy Thursday Mass in a parish and the Chrism Mass celebrated by the Bishop. The only difference is that the Gloria in excelsis is sung only at the Bishop’s Mass and there is the rite for the consecration of the holy oils. He notes the fact of three hosts being consecrated. Fr Finnegan does not mention the colour of the vestments.

The Agnus Dei is omitted unlike in the Roman Rite, with the three miserere nobis. The Pax is omitted because of the arch-villain Judas. Like in the Roman rite, Ite missa est is only said if there has been the Gloria, which would be the case only at the Bishop’s Mass. Otherwise it is Benedicamus Domino.

The Maundy (Mandatum)  is always separate from the Mass.

What of the Roman procession of the Blessed Sacrament and ceremonies at the Altar of Repose? They are simply absent from the Sarum Use. There is the Sepulture of the Blessed Sacrament (third host) and the cross that had been venerated, but that is on Good Friday. Fr Finnegan, like I, conclude that on Maundy Thursday, the second and third hosts are put into the hanging pyx (or tabernacle). In the Sarum Use, our depositio (‘burial) ceremonies correspond with the Byzantine Epitaphios.

For the sake of completeness, here are the links to Fr Finnegan’s articles on Good Friday and Holy Saturday.

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3 Responses to Maundy Thursday

  1. frambrose says:

    I read this. We follow a similar Maundy Service: white vestments, the Gloria and the transfer of the Sacrament. I know nothing of Sarum. But interesting to read what he says. The three hosts I never heard of before.

    • If you are interested, you can find a scan of an English translation of the Sarum missal –

      The three hosts are perfectly coherent with there being no altar of repose on Maundy Thursday and there being the Burial of the Lord in the Easter Sepulchre at the end of the Good Friday Mass of the Presanctified. There, it is very different from the Roman rite or what most Anglicans do, which is more Roman than anything else.

  2. Rubricarius says:

    One of the problems of course with ‘modern’ celebrations of the Roman rite was that only the ‘highlights’ were ever celebrated so a somewhat distorted view appears. The colour for Mandy Thursday was violet with white being exclusively reserved for the duration of the Eucharistic liturgy. Authors like Martinucci go into great detail about the Little Hours being chanted before the Mass and then a change of frontal, candles (from unbleached to bleached) and lastly the veil on the altar Cross. The reverse happens as soon as the reserved Sacrament has been taken to the place of repose and the altar goes back to violet etc before Vespers and stripping.

    Even so I would agree with the comments about it being too festive. The important features of the day were, from a historical perspective, the reconciliation of penitents, the consecration of oils for use on the newly baptised on Saturday and the Mandatum. As we know ‘watching’ that took place in our English rites was on Good Friday night at the Sepulchre with the buried Christ. This act of piety later became anticipated as the Eucharistic elements gained provenance.

    Anyway, a blessed Triduum to you Fr. Anthony and to your readers.

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