Holy Thursday

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Fr. Geoff preaching on Holy Thursday
Holy Thursday

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Come witness Jesus’ passion. Experience the Man Who gave Himself for others. Join with us as witnesses of the saving passion of our Christ at The Good Shepherd Orthodox Church.

Matins in Anticipation — Thursday 7:30 pm

Join us on the evening of Great and Holy Thursday for the Matins of Great Friday sung in anticipation; The Service of the Holy Passion of our Lord Jesus Christ which includes the reading of twelve Gospel excerpts. It is sometimes called the Service of the Twelve Gospels.

This service is a climactic point of the entire task set before us during Holy Week in which we accompany Christ, step by step, from the time of His last conversation with His disciples to His being laid in a new tomb by the faithful Joseph of Arimathea and the pious Nicodemus. Each of the twelve Gospel sections read during the service involves us in a new scene: the account of the Lord’s discourse with the disciples at the Mystical Supper; the arrest and trial before Annas and Caiaphas, the Jewish High Priests; the threefold denial of Peter; the trial and other happenings before Pontius Pilate; the scourging and mocking by the soldiers; the carrying of the Cross; the enlisting of Simon of Cyrene; the Crucifixion and the opposing fates of the two thieves hung with Christ; the loving tenderness of that moment when Jesus commits His Mother to the care of His faithful disciple, John; the Lord’s final yielding up of the spirit and burial.

The response to each Gospel reading is a variation of the usual one: “Glory to Your long-suffering, O Lord.” 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 condescension.

The twelve Gospel readings, however, are only part of the service. Another large part is the liturgical hymns. This hymnography (antiphons, verses and canons are sung during the service by the choir and congregation) sets the Gospel readings within the consciousness of the entire Church, with all of her history and people. 

While the Gospel texts narrate the events, the hymns give the response of the Church, that is, the community of true Christian believers of all ages, to these events. We are confronted and perplexed by the horrid and sobering, while at the same time being comforted and uplifted by signs of hope for us.

The total effect of this integration of the twelve Gospel texts and the hymns sung in response is to uplift us into the total life of the Church. In this life, past, present and future are one, and our own accompanying of Christ is not merely a dramatic enactment of past and irrelevant events, but a reality.

We must move from the universal to the specific. Christ suffered and died not for the sake of some vague “human mass,” but for unique human persons—for you and me. In this fact lies the hope and joy of each Christian.

The twelve readings are:

  1. John 13:31-18:1
  2. John 18:1-29
  3. Matthew 26:57-75
  4. John 18:28–19:16
  5. Matthew 27:3-32
  6. Mark 15:16-32
  7. Matthew 27:33-54
  8. Luke 23:32-49
  9. John 19:19-37
  10. Mark 15:43-47
  11. John 19:38-42
  12. Matthew 27:62-66

On the next day, which followed the Day of Preparation, the chief priests and Pharisees gathered together to Pilate, saying, “Sir, we remember, while He was still alive, how that deceiver said, ‘After three days I will rise.’ Therefore command that the tomb be made secure until the third day, lest His disciples come by night and steal Him away, and say to the people, ‘He has risen from the dead.’ So the last deception will be worse than the first.” 

Pilate said to them, “‘You have a guard; go your way, make it as secure as you know how.’ So they went and made the tomb secure, sealing the stone and setting the guard” (Matthew 27:62-66, Orthodox Study Bible).

In these readings, Christ’s last instructions to His disciples are presented, as well as the prophecy of the drama of the Cross, Christ’s prayer, and His new commandment.

The most moving part of the service is when the church is plunged into darkness and a Cross is carried in procession around the church three times while a soloist sings:

Today is hung upon the Tree, He Who suspended the Earth upon the waters. (x3)

A crown of thorns crowns Him, Who is the King of Angels.

He is wrapped about with the purple of mockery, Who wrapped the Heavens in clouds.

He was struck, Who freed Adam in the Jordan.

He was transfixed with nails, Who is the Bridegroom of the Church.

He was pierced with a spear, Who is the Son of the Virgin.

We worship Your Passion, O Christ (x3)

Show us also Your glorious Resurrection.

— The 15th Antiphon

Come and be part of it for yourself!


The Good Shepherd Orthodox Church, located in Clayton, Melbourne, is a living witness to the power of the Gospel and the fullness of the Christian Faith in modern, secular Australia.

We are a vibrant Australian Christian community under the direction of the Antiochian Orthodox Archdiocese of Australia, New Zealand & the Philippines, within the jurisdiction of the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Antioch and All the East.

The Church of Antioch is the continuation of the Christian community founded in Antioch by the Apostles Peter (who served as its first bishop) and Paul. The Patriarchate of Antioch is the oldest of the ancient Patriarchates constituting the one Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church of Jesus Christ.

All services are in the English language and are held in the Main Chapel of the Religious Centre at Monash University, Clayton Campus, conveniently located in the centre of Melbourne’s residential population.

Many of our services are live-streamed online.  Subscribe to our YouTube channel.

Service books are available or you can access the full service on your phone or tablet device using our Khouria app. To access the Khouria app:

Link to the words and music for today's service

Username: choir
Password: choir

If the link does not work, follow the instructions here.

Parking in the University car parks is free after 7:00 pm, but please take note of all signs regarding Loading Zones, No Standing and Disabled Parking, these restrictions apply and are enforced.

For directions to the Religious Centre click here