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Holy Week Service

Each year in our church, we have a Holy Week service that has become one of our most anticipated services. It is a simple service of Scripture, hymns, and Communion, following a similar structure to a Lessons and Carols Christmas service, but focusing on the events leading up to and including the Cross.

Over the years I’ve received requests from some who have been in the service to give them the full outline of what we do so they can use it elsewhere, and I thought this might be of use to some others as well. I’ve adjusted things a bit here and there over the years (most significantly this year with a new hymnal), but most years this has been fairly consistent.

Facing the Cross

Silent Prayer and Meditation


Hymn: When I Survey the Wondrous Cross

Prayer of Invocation

First Reading:
Jesus in Old Testament Prophecy
Isaiah 53:1-12

Hymn: O Sacred Head Now Wounded, stanza 1

Second Reading:
Jesus Prepares to Celebrate the Passover
Mark 14:12-16

Hymn: O, the Deep, Deep Love of Jesus, stanza 1

Service of Communion

Third Reading:
Jesus Eats the Last Supper with His Disciples
Matthew 26:20, 26-29

Silent Prayers of Repentence

Corporate Prayer of Confession

Declaration of Pardon

Invitation to the Table

Leader: This is the table of the Lord. All baptized believers living in fellowship with Christ and his Church are welcome at his Supper.

Child: Why do we come to this table?

Leader: We come to this table because of Jesus’ command and invitation. In remembrance of him, Jesus tells us to eat this broken bread and to drink this cup in true faith and to keep doing so until he comes again.

Child: How is this meal different from all others?

In this supper God tells us that our sins have been completely forgiven through the one sacrifice of Jesus Christ on the cross where Christ’s body was given and his blood was shed. God also tells us that the Holy Spirit makes us one with Christ, and in Christ one with other Christians.

Child: Why do we eat the bread?

Leader: The bread that we break is a participation in the body of Christ. We remember and believe that the body of our Lord Jesus Christ was given for the complete forgiveness of all our sins.

Child: Why do we drink the cup?

Leader: The cup for which we give thanks is a participation in the blood of Christ. We remember and believe that the blood of our Lord Jesus Christ was shed for the complete forgiveness of all our sins. As we partake in the bread and the cup, we proclaim the mystery of our faith: Christ has died, Christ is risen, Christ will come again.

Confession of Faith: The Apostles’ Creed

Prayer of Thanksgiving

Leader: The Lord be with you.

People: And also with you.

Leader: Lift up your hearts.

People: We lift them up to the Lord.

Leader: Let us give thanks to the Lord our God.

People: It is right to give our thanks and praise.

Leader: Blessed are you, strong and faithful God. All your works, the height and the depth, echo the silent music of your praise. Therefore we join our voices with choirs of angels, with prophets, apostles, martyrs, and with all the faithful of every time and place, who forever sing to the glory of your name:

People: Holy, holy, holy! Lord God Almighty! Heaven and earth are full of your glory. Hosanna in the highest!


Fourth Reading:
Jesus Washes His Disciples’ Feet
John 13:2-17

Hymn: Jesus! What a Friend for Sinners!, stanza 1

Fifth Reading:
Jesus Predicts His Betrayal and Denial
Mark 14:18; John 13:22-38; Mark 14:31, 26

Hymn: O Sacred Head, Now Wounded, stanza 2

Sixth Reading:
Jesus Goes to Gethsemane to Pray
Matthew 26:36-46

Hymn: Go to Dark Gethsemane, stanza 1

Seventh Reading:
Jesus Is Arrested in the Garden
Mark 14:43-49; Matthew 26:56b

Hymn: Fairest Lord Jesus, stanza 1

Eighth Reading:
Jesus Appears Before the Sanhedrin
Mark 14:53-64, 66-67; Luke 22:57-62; Mark 14:65

Hymn: Ah, Holy Jesus

Ninth Reading:
Jesus Is Taken Before Pilate and Herod
Luke 23:13-25

Hymn: What Wondrous Love Is This, stanza 1

Tenth Reading:
Jesus Is Crucified
Luke 23:26, 32-43

Hymn: Lord Jesus, Think on Me, stanza 1

Eleventh Reading:
Jesus Speaks His Last Words on the Cross
Matthew 27:45-46; John 19:28-30; Matthew 27:51-52; Luke 23:46; Matthew 27:54

Hymn: ‘Tis Finished! The Messiah Dies, stanzas 1-3

Twelfth Reading:
Jesus Is Buried
Mark 15:42-46

Hymn: Alas, and Did My Savior Bleed?

Silent Prayer

Hymn: My Jesus, I Love Thee, stanza 1

Closing Prayer and the Lord’s Prayer

Meditation and Personal Prayer

Silent Recessional

About Scott Aniol

Scott Aniol is the founder and Executive Director of Religious Affections Ministries. He is director of doctoral worship studies at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, where he teaches courses in ministry, worship, hymnology, aesthetics, culture, and philosophy. He is the author of Worship in Song: A Biblical Approach to Music and Worship, Sound Worship: A Guide to Making Musical Choices in a Noisy World, and By the Waters of Babylon: Worship in a Post-Christian Culture, and speaks around the country in churches and conferences. He is an elder in his church in Fort Worth, TX where he resides with his wife and four children. Views posted here are his own and not necessarily those of his employer.