The Solemn Liturgy traditionally forms the final of the Three Hours Devotion that where Good Friday is is public holiday run from 12-3pm. In the US because Good Friday is not a public holiday the Liturgy is normally celebrated in the evening. Due to Coronavirus restrictions on movement and association the music that otherwise would be sung by our choir is replaced with Youtube recordings.
The service opens in silence on pg 276 BCP with only the sound of the nails being hammered into the cross.
Readings: Isaiah 52:13-53:12; Psalm 22:1-11 sung by the St Thomas Choir of Men and Boys, NYC; Hebrews 10:1-25
The Passion according to John (Chapters 18-20), is sung to the setting by Victoria, and peformed by the Keene Vocal Consort.
The Solemn Collects pg 277 BCP follow a pattern of intercession, sung Kyrie, and concluding collect. The Kyrie is sung by Gabe Alfieri.
The Veneration of the Cross –
This image of the crucifixion taken from our Stations of The Cross provides a visual focus for your veneration of the cross during which the anthem Popule Meus (Oh my people, what have I done unto you, how have I offended you, answer me) is sung to the setting by Victoria, and performed by Musica Ficta with Raul Mallavibarrena.
Final Collect pg 282 BCP
Final Hymn: It is Finished, tune by J.S. Bach, Gabe Alfieri, baritone, Steven Young, Organ.
It is finished! Christ hath known
All the life of men wayfaring,
Human joys and sorrows sharing,
Making human needs his own.
Lord, in us thy life renewing,
Lead us where thy feet have trod,
Till, the way of truth pursuing,
Human souls find rest in God.
It is finished! Christ is slain,
On the altar of creation,
Offering for a world’s salvation
Sacrifice of love and pain.
Lord, thy love through pain revealing,
Purge our passions, scourge our vice,
Till, upon the tree of healing,
Self is slain in sacrifice.
Gabe Alfieri, Baritone and Steven Young, Organ
The Liturgy ends in silence
Text of the Good Friday Meditation from The Rev. Linda Mackie Griggs
At a Crossing
A little over five hundred years ago Matthias Grunewald, a German artist, completed his masterwork; the painting of a monumental and complex altarpiece. The central panel portrays the Crucifixion. But this is not an ordinary depiction of Jesus on the cross. His emaciated body hangs in agony, his hands, feet, and side pierced and bleeding. But it is his skin that draws the eye—it is sickly pallid, in some light with an almost greenish cast, pock-marked by sores. Always a heart-wrenching image, this Crucifixion is particularly painful to gaze upon.
This is because Grunewald painted this piece as a commission for the chapel at the Monastery of St. Anthony in Isenheim; a hospice for victims of plague and leprosy. Patients were able to gaze on their sick and wounded Lord, knowing that he suffered with them—his sores and his pallor a mirror of their own.
I wonder if they wanted to reach out and touch this image of Jesus? Even if they didn’t dare to actually do it—I wonder if they had the desire to offer to him the comfort they received from the nuns and monks who prayed with them and carefully tended their wounds and sores? Did they want to touch their Savior with the same reverence and care?
It may seem like a strange question. But on this particular Friday that we call Good, as we contemplate the suffering and death of Jesus, it’s especially pertinent because today we are not where we would like to be. This Lent and Holy Week have been out of our control. This day—this entire week—we mourn our rituals. For me, what I miss most about Good Friday is the ability to touch–to venerate the Cross, to place my hand upon it and pray in thanksgiving and repentance. And to watch in awe and love as others do the same—kneeling at the foot of the large wooden cross, reaching a tentative hand, resting it upon the rough splintery wood, letting the impact of Those Mighty Acts of Holy Week wash over them. Watching them literally reach out with the same reverence and care with which they accept the Eucharist. It breaks open the heart to be a part of such mingled sorrow and love.
But this year we can’t do that. We can’t because this time of plague has rendered our churches dark and empty. We have not been able to wave our Palms, to wash one another’s feet, to partake in the Last Supper, to watch with Jesus at the Altar of Repose in the Chapel or to rest our hands upon the Cross set before the Nave Altar. And so we grieve.
We grieve because we have not chosen this Lenten and Holy Week discipline. It has been forced upon us. We grieve what we have lost in this season of physical separation. And in that loss and grief lies the irony.
Our empty churches today, like no other Good Friday, reflect the desolation of Golgotha—the meaning of “forsaken.”
This is where we are, like it or not. This is where, among the irony, anxiety, and desire that it be otherwise, we must make meaning.
As we gaze upon Jesus we find ourselves at an intersection.
We are gazing upon One crushed by disaster, his arms reaching out to enfold the sick and the dying, the exhausted and the overwhelmed, the caregivers and the mourners, the doctors, nurses, EMTs and drivers of portable morgues. Jesus reaches out to the unemployed and the fearful, the ones who don’t have the luxury of staying home, the ones without adequate protection, the ones trying to keep it all afloat in a sea of pain, grief and uncertainty. Jesus enfolds them all in his loving embrace, at one with their sorrow.
We are at an intersection of what we love and what we fear. The cross lays bare for us the tension between our fear of suffering and death and our love of the One who suffers and dies with us.
We are at the intersection of our sin and our salvation. We gaze upon the One crucified by Empire—by principalities and powers. We are confronted with all the ways in which we crucify one another and the earth—the cruelty, complacency, complicity and callousness that we have inflicted upon God’s beloved in the name of our desire for power and control—our fear and denial of our own inadequacies taken out upon others. And the Crucified One simply reaches out in love, compassion, healing and forgiveness, telling us only that we know not what we do.
We are at the intersection of love and loss. This is where we always find Jesus, but nowhere more so than here on the Cross, where we are not only confronted by the reality of suffering and death but enfolded within the knowledge that Jesus shows us how to find the way through these things, not to deny them. The transforming love of the Crucified One holds us, safe and hopeful in this moment and in this place, even as we lament.
This is where we are. And on this Good Friday, this is where we belong.
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