Holy and Great Thursday, the Matins Service


After the Six Psalms and the Great Litany we sing Alleluia in TONE EIGHT, slowly and solemnly, with the appointed verses, and then the troparion:


The glorious disciples were illumined at the Supper during the washing of the feet, but ungodly Judas was darkened by the disease of avarice, and he delivered Thee, the righteous Judge, to lawless judges. See, O lover of money, how for money”s sake he hanged himself. Flee from the greed which made him dare to do such things against his Master. O Lord, who art good towards all men, glory to Thee (three times).

The reading is from the Gospel according to St. Luke (22:1–39).

Glory to Thee O Lord, Glory to Thee.

Now the feast of unleavened bread drew nigh, which is called the Passover. And the chief priests and scribes sought how they might kill him; for they feared the people. Then entered Satan into Judas surnamed Iscariot, being of the number of the twelve. And he went his way, and communed with the chief priests and captains, how he might betray him unto them. And they were glad, and covenanted to give him money. And he promised, and sought opportunity to betray him unto them in the absence of the multitude. Then came the day of unleavened bread, when the passover must be killed. And he sent Peter and John, saying, Go and prepare us the passover, that we may eat. And they said unto him, Where wilt thou that we prepare? And he said unto them, Behold, when ye are entered into the city, there shall a man meet you, bearing a pitcher of water; follow him into the house where he entereth in. And ye shall say unto the goodman of the house, The Master saith unto thee, Where is the guestchamber, where I shall eat the passover with my disciples? And he shall shew you a large upper room furnished: there make ready. And they went, and found as he had said unto them: and they made ready the passover. And when the hour was come, he sat down, and the twelve apostles with him. And he said unto them, With desire I have desired to eat this passover with you before I suffer: For I say unto you, I will not any more eat thereof, until it be fulfilled in the kingdom of God. And he took the cup, and gave thanks, and said, Take this, and divide it among yourselves: For I say unto you, I will not drink of the fruit of the vine, until the kingdom of God shall come. And he took bread, and gave thanks, and brake it, and gave unto them, saying, This is my body which is given for you: this do in remembrance of me. Likewise also the cup after supper, saying, This cup is the new testament in my blood, which is shed for you. But, behold, the hand of him that betrayeth me is with me on the table. And truly the Son of man goeth, as it was determined: but woe unto that man by whom he is betrayed! And they began to enquire among themselves, which of them it was that should do this thing. And there was also a strife among them, which of them should be accounted the greatest. And he said unto them, The kings of the Gentiles exercise lordship over them; and they that exercise authority upon them are called benefactors. But ye shall not be so: but he that is greatest among you, let him be as the younger; and he that is chief, as he that doth serve. For whether is greater, he that sitteth at meat, or he that serveth? is not he that sitteth at meat? but I am among you as he that serveth. Ye are they which have continued with me in my temptations. And I appoint unto you a kingdom, as my Father hath appointed unto me; That ye may eat and drink at my table in my kingdom, and sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel. And the Lord said, Simon, Simon, behold, Satan hath desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat: But I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not: and when thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren. And he said unto him, Lord, I am ready to go with thee, both into prison, and to death. And he said, I tell thee, Peter, the cock shall not crow this day, before that thou shalt thrice deny that thou knowest me. And he said unto them, When I sent you without purse, and scrip, and shoes, lacked ye any thing? And they said, Nothing. Then said he unto them, But now, he that hath a purse, let him take it, and likewise his scrip: and he that hath no sword, let him sell his garment, and buy one. For I say unto you, that this that is written must yet be accomplished in me, And he was reckoned among the transgressors: for the things concerning me have an end. And they said, Lord, behold, here are two swords. And he said unto them, It is enough. And he came out, and went, as he was wont, to the mount of Olives; and his disciples also followed him.

Afier Psalm 50, the Litany, O Lord, save Thy people... is omitted, and immediately we begin the Canon by St. Kosmas. The irmos is sung at the end of each canticle as katavasia. Before the troparia we say Glory to Thee, our God, glory to Thee.



_(Irmos) The Red Sea was parted by a blow from Moses’s staff, and the deep with its waves grew dry. It served as a path to the unarmed people of Israel, but to the Egyptians in full armour it proved a grave. A hymn of praise was sung, well-pleasing to God: Christ our God is greatly glorified.

Cause of all and Bestower of life, the infinite Wisdom of God has built His house, from a pure Mother who has not known man. For, clothing Himself in a bodily temple, Christ our God is greatly glorified.

Instructing His friends in the Mysteries, the true Wisdom of God prepares a table that gives food to the soul, and He mingles for the faithful the cup of the wine of life eternal. Let us approach with reverence and cry aloud : Christ our God is greatly glorified.

Ye faithful, let us all give ear to the exalted preaching of the un­ created and consubstantial Wisdom of God, for He cries aloud: “O taste and see that I am good! O sing: Christ our God is greatly glorified.”


(Irmos) O God the Lord and Creator of all, Thou art become poor, uniting a created nature to Thyself, while remaining free from passion. Since Thou art the Passover, Thou hast offered Thyself to those for whose sake Thou wast soon to die; and Thou hast cried: “Eat My Body, and ye shall be firmly established in the faith.”

Filling Thy cup of salvation with joy, O loving Lord, Thou hast made Thy disciples drink from it. For Thou offerest Thyself in sacrifice, crying: “Drink My Blood, and ye shall be firmly established in the faith.”

“How foolish is the traitor in your midst!” in Thy forbearance Thou hast said to Thy disciples. “He will not know or understand these things. But abide in Me, and ye shall be firmly established in the faith.”

Sessional Hymn


He who made the lakes and springs and seas, wishing to teach us the surpassing value of humility, girded Himself with a towel and washed the feet of the disciples, humbling Himself in the abundance of His great compassion and raising us from the depths of wickedness, for He alone loves mankind.

Glory to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit.


Humbling Thyself in Thy compassion, Thou hast washed the feet of Thy disciples, teaching them to take the path which as God Thou hast followed. And Peter, who at first refused to be washed, yielded then to the divine command, and earnestly entreated Thee that we may be granted Thy great mercy.

Both now and ever and to the ages of ages. Amen.


Eating, O Master, with Thy disciples, Thou hast mystically revealed Thy holy death, which delivers us from corruption, who honour Thy sacred Passion.


(Irmos) Foreseeing Thy secret mystery, O Christ, the Prophet cried: “Thou hast manifested the mighty power of Thy love, O merciful Father, for in Thy goodness Thou hast sent Thine only-begotten Son to cleanse the world from sin.”

Going to Thy Passion that frees from passion all the posterity of Adam, Thou hast said, O Christ, to Thy friends: “I have desired to eat this Passover with you; for the Father has sent Me, His only­begotten Son, to cleanse the world from sin.”

Partaking from the cup, O Lord Immortal, Thou hast cried to the disciples: “In this present life I will no more drink with you from the fruit of the vine. For the Father has sent Me, His only-begotten Son, to cleanse the world from sin.”

“In My Kingdom”, Thou hast said, O Christ, to Thy friends, “I shall drink a new drink beyond your understanding; I shall be with you as God among gods. For the Father has sent Me, His only­begotten Son, to cleanse the world from sin.”


(Irmos) United by the bond of love and offering themselves to Christ the Lord, the apostles were washed clean; and with feet made beautiful, they preached to all the Gospel of peace.

The Wisdom of God that restrains the untamed fury of the waters that are above the firmament, that sets a bridle on the deep and keeps back the seas, now pours water into a basin; and the Master washes the feet of His servants.

The Master shows to His disciples an example of humility; He who wraps the heaven in clouds girds Himself with a towel; and He in whose hand is the life of all things kneels down to wash the feet of His servants.


(Irmos) The uttermost depths of sin have compassed me about; and no longer able to endure its stormy waves, as Jonah I cry out to Thee, O Master: Lead me up from corruption.

“O disciples, ye call Me Lord and Master, and so I am”, Thou hast cried, O Saviour. “Follow then the example that ye have seen in Me.”

“He who is free from defilement needs no washing of the feet. Now ye are clean, My disciples, but not all of you. For one of you inclines to wild folly in his heart.”



The traitor takes the Bread in his hands, but stretches them out secretly to receive the price of Him who fashioned man with His own hands. For Judas, slave and deceiver, still repented not.


Let us all draw near in fear to the mystical table, and with pure souls let us receive the Bread; let us remain at the Master’s side, that we may see how He washes the feet of the disciples and wipes them with a towel; and let us do as we have seen, subjecting ourselves to each other and washing one another’s feet. For such is the commandment that Christ Himself gave to His disciples; but Judas, slave and deceiver, paid no heed.


(Irmos) In Babylon the Children did not fear the fiery furnace; but cast into the midst of the flames they were refreshed with dew and sang: “O God of our fathers, blessed art Thou.”

With head bowed, Judas plotted evil, seeking opportunity to deliver for condemnation the Judge who is Lord of all and God of our fathers.

“Among you there is one that shall betray Me”, Christ cried to His friends; and they, forgetting their gladness, were seized with grief and anguish, saying: “Who shall this be? Tell us, O God of our fathers.”

“He that dares to dip his hand with Me in the dish; and it had been good for that man if he had never passed through the gates of life.” So did Christ, the God of our fathers, speak of the one who should betray Him.


(Irmos) Accepting danger for the sake of their fathers” laws, the blessed Children in Babylon scorned the foolish order of the King. Standing together in the fire which burnt them not, they sang a song fitting for God almighty: “O ye works of the Lord, praise ye the Lord and exalt Him above all for ever.”

Blessed guests in Zion, faithful companions of the Word, the apostles followed the Shepherd like sheep. Firmly united to Christ and feeding upon the divine Word, they cried in thanksgiving: “O ye works of the Lord, praise ye the Lord and exalt Him above all for ever.”

Iniquitous Iscariot, forgetful of the law of friendship, hastened to the betrayal on the feet which Thou hadst washed. Eating Thy Bread, the divine Body, he lifted up his heel against Thee; for he knew not how to cry: “O ye works of the Lord, praise ye the Lord and exalt Him above all for ever.”

Lacking all conscience, he received the Body that delivers men from sin and the divine Blood that was shed for the world. He was not ashamed to drink what he had sold for money; he felt no anger against sin; for he knew not how to cry: “O ye works of the Lord, praise ye the Lord and exalt Him above all for ever.”

We praise, we bless and worship the Lord, praising and supremely exalting Him unto all ages.


We do not sing the Magniflcat.

(Irmos) Come, ye faithful, let us raise our minds on high and enjoy the Master’s hospitality and the table of immortal life in the upper room; and let us hear the exalted teaching of the Word whom we magnify.

“Go”, said the Word to the disciples, “and prepare the Passover for those whom I call to share in the Mystery: with the unleavened bread of the word of truth prepare the Passover in the upper room where the mind is established, and magnify the strength of grace.” Before the ages the Father begat Me, who am Wisdom and Creator, and He established Me as the beginning of His ways. He appointed Me to perform the works which now are mystically accomplished. For though I am by nature the uncreated Word, I make My own the speech and qualities of the manhood that I have assumed.

Since I am man not merely in appearance but in reality, the human nature united to Me is made godlike through the exchange of attributes. Know Me, then, as one single Christ, who saves those among whom I have been born and whose nature I have taken.



I see Thy bridal chamber adorned, O my Saviour, and I have no wedding garment that I may enter there. Make the robe of my soul to shine, O Giver of Light, and save me (three times) .

Lauds. We sing four stichera:


In haste the council of the Jews assembles, to deliver the Fashioner and Creator of all to Pilate. O transgressors, O unbelievers! For they make ready to surrender unto judgement Him who comes to judge the living and the dead; they prepare the Passion of Him who heals the passions. Great is Thy mercy, O longsuffering Lord: glory to Thee.

Judas the transgressor at the supper dipped his hand into the dish with Thee, O Lord, yet sinfully he reached out his hands to receive the money. He reckoned up the value of the oil of myrrh, and yet was not afraid to sell Thee who art above all price. He stretched out his feet to be washed, yet deceitfully he kissed the Master and betrayed Him to the breakers of the Law. Cast out of the company of the apostles, he threw away the thirty pieces of silver, and did not see Thy Resurrection on the third day. Through this Thy Resurrection have mercy on us.

Judas, the deceitful traitor, with a deceitful kiss betrayed the Lord and Saviour; he sold the Master of all as a slave to the transgressors; the Lamb of God, the Son of the Father, went as a sheep to the slaughter: for He alone is rich in mercy.

Judas, servant and deceiver, disciple and traitor, friend and false accuser, was revealed by his deeds. For he followed the Master, yet inwardly he plotted to betray Him. He said in himself: “I shall deliver Him up and gain the money that is promised.” He desired the oil of myrrh to be sold and Jesus to be taken by deceit. He gave a kiss and handed over Christ; and the Lord went as a sheep to the slaughter, for He alone is compassionate and loves mankind.

Glory to the Father and to the son and to the Holy Spirit. Both now and ever and to the ages of ages. Amen.


The Lamb whom Isaiah proclaimed goes of His own will to the slaughter. He gives His back to scourging, and His cheeks to blows, and turns not away His face from the shame of their spitting; He is condemned to a disgraceful death. Though sinless, He accepts all these things willingly, that He may grant to all men resurrection from the dead.

Then To Thee is due glory, O Lord our God. . . , and the Doxology (said), followed by the Litany, Let us complete our morning prayer. . .



Today the evil Sanhedrin has assembled against Christ and devised vain things against Him, plotting to deliver Him, though innocent, to Pilate to be put to death. Today Judas places round his neck the noose of money, and deprives himself of life both temporal and divine. Today Caiaphas prophesies against his will, saying: “It is expedient that one man should perish for the people.” He came to suffer for our sins, that He might set us free from the bondage of the enemy: for He is good and loves mankind.

Verse: He who ate My bread has lifted up his heel against Me (Psalm


Today Judas lays aside his outward pretense of love for the poor, and openly displays his greed for money. No longer does he take thought for the needy. He offers now for sale, not the oil of myrrh brought by the sinful woman, but the Myrrh from heaven, and he takes the pieces of silver. He runs to the Jews and says to the transgressors: “What will ye give me if I deliver Him up to you?” O avarice of the traitor! He reckons the sale profitable, and, agreeing with the wishes of the purchasers, he concludes the transaction. He does not dispute about the price but sells the Lord like a runaway slave; for it is the custom of thieves to throw away what is precious. So the disciple casts that which is holy to the dogs, and the madness of avarice fills him with fury against his own Master. Let us flee from such folly, and cry: O longsuffering Lord, glory to Thee.

Verse: His heart gathered iniquity to itself: he went out and spoke of it (Psalm 4O:7).

Deceitful are thy ways, lawless Judas: Sick with the love of money, thou hast come to hate mankind. If thou lovest riches, why become disciple of Him who teaches poverty? But if thy love is for Him, why sell the Lord that is above all price and hand Him over to be murdered? Tremble, O sun; groan, earth, and quaking cry aloud: O longsuffering Lord, glory to Thee .

Verse: They spoke lawless words against Me (Psalm 4O:9).

O ye faithful, let none who is uninstructed in the Mystery draw near to the table of the Lord’s Supper; let none approach deceitfully as Judas. For he received his portion, yet he betrayed the Bread. In outward appearance he was a disciple, yet in reality he was present as a murderer. He rejoiced with the Jews, though he sat at supper with the apostles. He kissed in hatred, and with his kiss he sold the God and Saviour of our souls, who has redeemed us from the curse.

Glory to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit.

Repeat: Deceitful are thy ways. . . Both now and ever and to the ages of ages. Amen.


Instructing Thy disciples in the Mystery, O Lord, Thou hast taught them; saying: “My friends, take care that fear does not separate you from Me. For though I suffer, yet it is for the sake of the world. Do not be scandalized because of Me; for I have come not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give My life as a ransom for the world. If then ye are My friends, ye will do as I do. He who will be first, let him be the last; let the master be as the servant. Abide in Me, that ye may bear fruit: for I am the vine of Life.”

And the rest of Matins, as on days outside Lent.


See also
Grant, O Lord, That All Would Commune Grant, O Lord, That All Would Commune
Schema-Archimandrite Zosima (Sokur)
Grant, O Lord, That All Would Commune Grant, O Lord, That All Would Commune
A Homily before the Divine Liturgy on Holy Thursday
Schema-Archimandrite Zosima (Sokur)
It is the most fearful thing when we do not realize that people suffer through our shortcomings. Foolish parents interfere with their children’s lives. But if you can’t manage to fix something, why terrorize your children, why torture them?
I am the Vine, Ye are the Branches. From a sermon on Holy and Great Thursday I am the Vine, Ye are the Branches. From a sermon on Holy and Great Thursday
Hieromonk Pavel (Scherbachev)
I am the Vine, Ye are the Branches. From a sermon on Holy and Great Thursday I am the Vine, Ye are the Branches. From a sermon on Holy and Great Thursday
Hieromonk Pavel (Scherbachev)
Today, brothers and sisters, on Great and Holy Thursday we remember the Last Supper, when our Lord Jesus Christ established the Sacrament of Holy Communion, and served the first Divine Eucharist, giving his disciples and apostles His Most Pure Body and Blood in the image of bread and wine.
From a Homily on Great Thursday. The Holy Mysteries of Christ From a Homily on Great Thursday. The Holy Mysteries of Christ
St. Ignatius (Brianchaninov)
From a Homily on Great Thursday. The Holy Mysteries of Christ From a Homily on Great Thursday. The Holy Mysteries of Christ
St. Ignatius (Brianchaninov)
Bread strengtheneth man's heart (Ps. 103:17), the prophet foretold of a certain miraculous bread, which, unlike ordinary, material bread that strengthens the body, is to strengthen man's heart. Our heart is in need of strengthening! It was frightfully shaken when we fell, and cannot by itself stop wavering. It is continually shaken by various passions. Fallen man in his blindness preaches to no purpose and in vain about the firmness of human will.
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