Holy Thursday Evening
About the Icon:
The Crucifixion of Our Lord
Christ: Nailed to the Cross; His right side is pierced and the wound flows with blood and water.
The Theotokos: The figure on the left depicted with a halo.
Three women depicted together with the Theotokos:
Saint Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James and Joses, and the mother of Zebedee's children (Matthew 27:56)
Saint John the Beloved Disciple: The figure on the immediate right of the cross.
Saint Longinus the Centurion: The figure on the extreme
right; he is the Roman centurion mentioned in Saint Mark's Gospel
account of the Crucifixion (Mark 15:39).
The Inscription on the top bar of the Cross is the
inscription I.N.B.I., the initials of the Greek words meaning "Jesus of
Nazareth, King of the Jews."
The Skull: At the foot of the Cross; Golgotha, the Mount
of the Cruci-fixion, means 'the place of the skull." Tradition relates
that the Cross of Christ stood directly above the grave of Adam.
- John 13:31-38; 14-18:1
- John 18:1-28
- Matthew 26:57-75
- John 18:28-40; 19:1-16
- Matthew 27:3-32
- Mark 15:16-32
- Matthew 27:33-54
- Luke 23:32-49
- John 19:25-37
- Mark 15:43-47
- John 19:38-42
- Matthew 27:62-66
As the glorious disciples, in the washing of the feet, were
enlightened, the profane Judas, ravaged by greed, was benighted. And to
the lawless judges he surrenders You the just judge. Consider, you who
love money, the one who hanged himself for the sake of it. Shun the
insatiate heart that could dare such a deed against the Teacher. Lord,
benevolent above all humans, glory to You.
Selected Hymns from the Antiphons:
Let us present our senses purified to Christ, and as His
friends, let us offer our lives to Him; not, like Judas, overwhelmed by
worldly concerns, but I the quiet of our chambers crying out: "Our
Father in heaven, deliver us from the Evil One."
Judas ran to the lawless Scribes, saying, "What will you
give me, and I will deliver Him to you." Meanwhile, unseen, You stood
among those mailing agreement, invisibly contracted for. Diviner of
hearts, have pity on our souls.
As you fed the disciples at the supper, knowing the pretext
for the betrayal, You accused Judas openly. You saw he was beyond
redemption, but meant for all to know that You were willingly
surrendered, to snatch the world from the enemy’s grasp. Long-suffering
Lord, glory to You.
Today Judas forsakes the Teacher to embrace the devil.
Blinded by passion for money, the benighted man falls from the light.
How could he see, having sold out the light-giver for thirty silver
coins? But He Who suffered for the world’s sake, has become our
daybreak. To Him we cry: "Glory to You, for You suffer for and with
Today Judas watches for his chance to betray the Lord, the
One Who is the world’s Redeemer from before all ages; the One Who with
but five loaves fed the multitudes. Today the wicked one denies the
Teacher; though once a disciple, he surrendered the Master. For silver
he bartered away the One who nourished the people with manna.
Today the Lord’s own people nailed to the Cross the One who
divided the sea with a staff and led them through the wilderness. The
One Who visited the plagues on Egypt for their sake they pierced with a
lance to His side. The One Who rained the manna on them for nourishment
they offered gall to drink.
What was it, Judas, that turned you into the Savior’s
betrayer? Did He separate you from the Apostles’ fellowship? Did He
withhold from you His healing grace? As you all supped together, did He
banish you from the table? When He washed the feet of the others did
He overlook yours? Oh, how many blessings you have forgotten! Thus
your ingratitude will be inscribed in history, while His unimaginable
forbearance and great mercy will forever be proclaimed.
He Who is clothed with light as with a garment, stood naked
on trial; He was struck on the cheek by hands He had shaped. When the
lawless people nailed to the Cross the Lord of glory, the veil of the
temple was rent and the sun went dark, unable to witness God blasphemed,
before Whom the universe trembles. Him let us worship.
Thus says the Lord to His countrymen: "My people, what have
I done to you or how have I disturbed you? I gave light to your blind;
your lepers I cleansed; a bedridden man I raised up. My people, what
have I done for you, and how have you repaid Me? In place of the manna
you gave Me gall; instead of water, vinegar; instead of loving Me you
nailed Me to the Cross. No longer than can I endure. I will summon to
Me the nations and they will glorify Me, together with the Father and
the Spirit. And to them will I grant eternal life."
Lord, the assembly demanded of Pilate that You be crucified.
And though they could find no charge against You, they released the
guilty Barrabas and You, the righteous One, they condemned, thus
assigning to themselves the crime of murder. Then render to them, O
Lord, their just reward, for they brought false charges against You.
Today He who suspended the earth amid the waters is suspended on the Tree. (3x)
The King of the heavenly hosts wears a crown of thorns. The
One who clothed the heavens in clouds, is wrapped in mock purple. He
who freed Adam in the Jordan, is buffeted with blows. The bridegroom of
the Church is transfixed with nails. The virgin’s Son is pierced with a
We worship Your passion, O Christ. (3x)
Show us now Your glorious resurrection.
Because of a tree Adam became an alien from Paradise;
because of the Tree of the Cross, the thief came to dwell in Paradise.
The one by eating broke the commandment of his Maker; the other,
crucified with You, confessed God Who was concealed. Remember us also, O
Savior, in Your Kingdom.
Explanation of the Service:
An outstanding and unique feature of this service is that it
contains a series of twelve Gospel readings. The twelve Gospel lessons
are read at various intervals throughout the lengthy service. The
first pericope, from the Gospel of John (13.21-18), relates the account
of the Lord’s discourse with the disciples at the Mystical Supper. The
next ten Gospel readings deal with accounts of the Lord’s sufferings as
they are told in the Gospels. The last pericope gives an account of the
Lord’s burial and the sealing of the Tomb. The response after each
gospel reading is a variation of the usual one: "Glory to Your
forbearance, Lord, Glory to You." The focus of our praise is the long
suffering of our God. This distinct liturgical formula signifies the
deep reverence with which we approach the awesomeness of the divine
Another striking feature of this service is the solemn
procession with the large Cross of the sanctuary. After the fifth
Gospel, the priest brings the Cross out of the sanctuary in a solemn
procession and places in the middle of the Church.