Dear Ambrose

We are having a foot washing at my parish on Maundy Thursday. What can we sing here?                                                                                                 Signed, Stumped

Dear Stumped:

It is traditional in most churches to do a Foot Washing on Maundy Thursday. This commemorates Jesus washing the feet of the disciples before being crucified the next day. He, in turn, urges the disciples to go and do likewise.

The Book of Common Prayer directs that suitable anthems be sung or said during this time. In the accompaniment edition of The Hymnal 1982 at S-344-347, you will find the musical settings for the Foot Washing Anthems. Following the sung settings you will find the accompaniments. 

St. James Music Press (www.sjmp.com) has a lovely setting of these anthems by Robert Lehman. Look for “Mandatum” in the search feature of the site. 

Hymn 602 in The Hymnal 1982 (Kneels at the feet of his friends) and hymns 729 and 730 in Wonder, Love, and Praise (As in that upper room you left your seat) would also be appropriate during this time. 

Bruce Ford offers English adaptations of the Gregorian anthems assigned to the Footwashing in the Graduale Romanum, as they appeared in The American Gradual (2001). You can access those HERE.

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