Here we are in the midst of Holy Week, and this evening we observe Maundy Thursday. Here is a little background on the observance courtesy of Wikipedia.
In the Christian liturgical calendar, Maundy Thursday or Holy Thursday is the feast or holy day falling on the Thursday before Easter that commemorates the Last Supper of Jesus Christ with the Apostles. It is the fifth day of Holy Week, and is preceded by Holy Wednesday and followed by Good Friday.
On this day four events are commemorated: the washing of the Disciples' feet by Jesus Christ, the institution of the Mystery of the Holy Eucharist at the Last Supper, the agony of Christ in the Garden of Gethsemane, the betrayal of Christ by Judas Iscariot.
The morning celebration of these events marks the beginning of what is called the Easter Triduum or Sacred Triduum. The Latin word triduum means a three-day period, and the triduum in question is that of the three days from the death to the resurrection of Jesus. It should be noted that for Jesus and his followers a day ended, and a new day began, at sunset, not at midnight, as it still does today in the modern Jewish calendar. The Last Supper was held at what present-day Western civilization considers to be the evening of Holy Thursday but what was then considered to be the first hours of Friday. Its annual commemoration thus begins the three-day period or triduum of Good Friday, Holy Saturday and Easter Sunday, days of special devotion that celebrate as a single action the death and resurrection of Christ, the central events of Christianity.
"Maundy Thursday" is the name for this day in England. It is therefore the usual name also in English-speaking Protestant Churches that originated in that country and even in some that originated in Scotland, although the Scottish Book of Common Prayer uses the name "Holy Thursday". Other English-speaking Protestant Churches, such as the Lutheran, use both "Maundy Thursday" and "Holy Thursday". Among Roman Catholics, except in England, the usual English name for the day is "Holy Thursday". The word Maundy is derived through Middle English, and Old French mandé, from the Latin mandatum, the first word of the phrase "Mandatum novum do vobis ut diligatis invicem sicut dilexi vos" ("A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you"), the statement by Jesus in the Gospel of John (13:34) by which Jesus explained to the Apostles the significance of his action of washing their feet. The phrase is used as the antiphon sung during the "Mandatum" ceremony of the washing of the feet, which may be held during Mass or at another time as a separate event, during which a priest or bishop (representing Christ) or for the first time, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, on 20 March 2008, in Armagh, ceremonially washes the feet of others, typically 12 persons chosen as a cross-section of the community.
The anthems we will go through this evening begin with John 3:16 - God so loved the world..,
move to the Lord's Supper, and down the Via Dolorosa, ending with the crucifixion.
Last year was my first experience with Maundy Thursday and I entered somewhat of a depression as we repeatedly rehearsed through the music beginning months in advance of the service. This year, I was more prepared for what was coming and still I am finding my days slower and harder to get through knowing that it was my sin that put my Lord on the cross. Singing the powerful and haunting anthems is so bittersweet. The great gift that we were given through Jesus' suffering is salvation. And as we remember what He went through in order that we might be in fellowship with God for an eternity, we look forward to the Resurrection - the triumphant day when Jesus conquered death.
I praise God that He has the victory over sin and death!!
This is our first anthem for the evening....