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 Lady Chapel 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 in the sanctuary:

  • The Sacramentary with the required Maundy Thursday interpolations in the Canon: “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 …”
  • Book containing Footwashing rite, at sedilia
  • Hand-bells for SMs and servers, where they can be easily retrieved but not knocked over
  • A wooden rattle (crotalus), near where the sacring bell usually sits, by the credence
  • Maniples, either at the sedilia or over the Gospel-side altar rail, to be donned at after the footwashing for the Offertory
  • A humeral veil, either at on the High Altar steps behind the Epistle-side pavement light, or at the High Altar sedilia
  • A white cope over, either over the altar rail in the Lady Chapel, or behind the reredos.
  • A veil, and ribbon for the ciborium, either placed on the gradine to the far Epistle-side or at the credence, to be used for the Vigil at the Altar of Repose

MC sets the following in the choir for the foot washing:

  • Twelve chairs, six on either side of the choir, for those who will have their feet washed.
  • A small table covered by a linen cloth is placed in front of the north choir stalls nearest the altar, just after the 6th chair on that side of the choir.
  • A basin, towels, pitcher(s) of warm water, and a plate of coins placed on the small table.

MC sets the following in the sacristy for the stripping of the altars:

  • Towels, a bowl of water, a bottle of vinegar, and dried palms on the sofe in the Priests’ Sacristy.
  • Oxblood stoles easily accessible in the Priests’ Sacristy (the Stripping of the Altars is done with SMs in albs and oxblood stoles).

MC designates one of the acolytes to rattle the crotalus at the invitation to communion, as the MC will be on the opposite side of the altar at that time.

MC confirms that the sexton or verger has designated someone to extinguish the church lights during the stripping of the altars.

Sacristan will have negotiated with clergy the number of people’s wafers for distribution at this Mass and for reservation. It is very important to note that all peoples’ wafers provided should be consecrated in this Mass, including two Priests’ Hosts. All peoples’ wafers must fit in one ciborium. Provision should also be made for a necessary amount of low-gluten hosts. 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.

In the smoke sacristy before the service, the CEL charges and blesses incense in TH1’s thurible as usual. 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. As usual, the 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.

[ altar ]
      A   TH2   SD   CEL   D   MC   TH1   A
====================               ====================

All genuflect and take their customary places except TH2 who goes to 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, the 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 the Invitation, all SMs turn and proceed single file back to the step at the altar rail. The CEL kneels, and the D and SD remove CEL’s chasuble. MC places it over the altar rail.

The persons designated to have their feet washed start to come forward as soon as the CEL concludes the invitation to the foot washing. The verger prompts them as necessary. They sit on the chairs in the choir and remove shoes and stockings from their right feet only.

The SMs start with the Gospel side parishioner nearest the congregation, and then washes one foot of each parishioner in turn. It is important that the SMs should do this in a manner such that they do not block the congregation’s view of the washing as it happens. 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 foot is washed and dried by the CEL, the CEL takes a coin from the plate and gives it to the parishioner. The other SMs assist by passing towels, fresh empty basins, and additional water as necessary. Parishioners may individually replace their socks and shoes as soon as CEL has dried their feet and given them the token. However, they remain seated as a group in the choir until the concluding prayer of the rite.

After the footwashing, SMs return to the step at the altar rail, where CEL kneels. MC retrieves chasuble. D and SD re-vest CEL in chasuble, while TH2 removes basin, towels, pitcher, and plate to smoke sacristy. Led by MC, SMs line up at altar steps, the SMs turn and the CEL reads the concluding prayers. Then the SMs alone genuflect (CHOIR and SERVERS do NOT genuflect), and return to the sedilia. At the sedilia the SMs put on maniples, and sit.

The peace is NOT exchanged.

The Offertory anthem is sung and the Mass continues as is customary until the conclusion of Communion. The Canon of the Mass is celebrated with the interpolations noted above. The MC clacks the crotalus at the three times during the Canon when the Sanctus bell would otherwise be rung and designates an acolyte to clack at the invitation to communion:

  1. MC: All glory be to thee, […] until his coming again. [clack]
  2. MC: For in the night in which he was betrayed […] “Do this in remembrance of me.” [clack at genuflection, elevation, and genuflection]
  3. MC: Likewise, after supper […] “Do this, as oft as ye shall drink it, in remembrance of me.” [clack at genuflection, elevation, and genuflection]
  4. AA: Behold the Lamb of God … or The gifts of God for the people of God […] feed on him in your hearts by faith, with thanksgiving. [clack]

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

During Communion, if these items are not already in their proper places, an acolyte places the humeral veil on altar step near Epistle pavement light and brings the veil with ribbons for ciborium to the altar.


After Communion all sacred vessels are abluted per custom and removed to the credence, with the following changes:

  • The ciborium, without its lid, is topped by a pall and the white veil, and then tied with a white ribbon. This is arranged by the CEL and D at the end of the ablutions, before the CEL goes to the usual post-communion position at the epistle horn at the High Altar.
  • The Mass chalice, with its paten, purificator, burse, and veil, are placed to the left of the corporal and the veiled sacrament.

After the ablutions, the D and SD swap places as usual and the SD veils the chalice, but – leaving the corporal and the veiled sacrament on the altar – crab-walks down and give the veiled chalice to an Acolyte.

When all this is accomplished, the MC signals TT to exit to retrieve their torches. They re-enter only on MC’s cue (see below).

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 the altar rail in the Lady Chapel and gives it to D and SD, who then vest CEL.

On MC’s cue, TH1/TH2 carrying uncharged thuribles in their left hand, enter the sanctuary. Simultaneously, AA pick up their torches and go to center at the altar steps. AA proceed inside the altar rail and meet TH1/TH2 (as if for the Gospel procession).

[ altar ]
 A   TH2   TH1   A
====================               ====================

At the MC’s cue, all genuflect. Upon genuflection, the AA move below the altar rail and take innermost places at the altar rail. 

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

[ altar ]
       TH2   SD   CEL   D   MC   TH1
====================               ====================
             A                            A             

ALL kneel. CEL receives thurible from TH2. ALL at altar steps make a profound bow. CEL censes the Blessed Sacrament. ALL at altar steps make a second profound bow. CEL hands thurible back to TH2. MC stands and places the humeral veil 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 up to the footpace, and genuflect before the Blessed Sacrament. With D assisting, CEL takes the ciborium. SMs turn to face congregation with the D and SD supporting the CEL’s arms while carrying the Blessed Sacrament.

Immediately when the SMs turn, ALL stand.

MC and servers then turn to face congregation. CR goes to center, turns to congregation and is joined by AA. The SMs, carrying the Blessed Sacrament, then proceed down to the altar step to join the other SMs.

As soon as everyone has taken their positions, the CR flanked by the the AA begin to 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:


Once arriving in the Lady Chapel, AA go to kneelers or prie-dieux set just inside the Lady Chapel altar rail; the CR stays outside the rail to the left; the verger stays outside the rail to the right. The MC, TH1 and TH2, file inside the altar rail and line up at altar steps, followed by the SMs who wait at the altar steps.

[ altar ]
A (on kneeler)                          (on kneeler) A
====================               ====================
        CR  [ Clergy ]                           [ Clergy ]  Verger

As soon as CEL arrives, the MC signals ALL OTHERS (except CR) to kneel.

The CEL places the Blessed Sacrament on the Corporal on the altar, double-genuflects on footpace, crabs down to the pavement, and then kneels at altar steps between the SD and D. MC then stands and removes humeral veil from CEL.

TH2 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 back to TH2.

The Sacrament will remain on the corporal on the Lady Chapel altar from this point until the Good Friday Liturgy.

ALL make a profound bow (except CR) and then stand. All torches are extinguished. 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. Generally TH1/TH2, MC, SD, D, and CEL follow them, but there is no order for this exit; simply leave in the most expedient order and follow the described path.

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, or other designated person, turns off lights in the sanctuary in prearranged sequence, beginning at the back and sides, and then moving forward.

While SMs prepare for the purification of the altar, the servers remove everything from the sanctuary except the cross veiled in purple, chairs, and stools. Typically there is a list in the smoke sacristy of tasks that need to be performed, and the MC helps to coordinate this.

  • 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.
    • However, it is important that weights be swapped for the glass cups as they are removed so that they do not shoot upward in an uncontrolled manner!
    • 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.
  • All rugs and cushions are removed
  • All flowers (with an assist from the Flower Guild) must be removed from the High Altar
  • 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.

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. The person appointed then double-genuflects and leaves the chapel. People will generally understand that this is the sign that the watch is over and leave voluntarily.

Original web publication on Nov 12, 1999 @ 01:49pm by Julianne Ture.

Updated Mar 30, 2018 @ 11:00am by Ciarán Anthony DellaFera, BSG