Good Friday Service

A service for Good Friday 2020

Broadcast services will be available on YouTube and facebook, via the
Provincial website at

Good Friday, 14.30: The service will include the Passion Narrative
and the Veneration of the Cross led by the Rt Rev Anne Dyer, Bishop
of Aberdeen & Orkney.
Holy Saturday, 20.30: The Easter Vigil will be led by the Primus,
the Most Rev Mark Strange, from his home in Arpafeelie.

Almighty Father,
look with mercy on this your family
for which our Lord Jesus Christ was content to be betrayed
and given up into the hands of sinners
and to suffer death upon the cross;
who is alive and glorified with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and forever.
All Amen.

Mrs. Cecil Frances Alexander (1818 –1895) was an Anglo-Irish
hymnwriter and poet. She wrote ” All Things Bright and Beautiful “,
and the Christmas carol ” Once in Royal David’s City .” For today she
penned ” There Is a Green Hill Far Away “
Her poetical works were much admired and came to the attention
of Alfred Lord Tennyson. The composer Charles Gounod once
remarked that it was ‘the most perfect hymn in the English
language because of its charming simplicity. A noted New
Testament scholar wrote, ‘It was given to an Irish woman, in a
hymn she wrote for little children, to express better than many a

learned tome the purpose, the necessity and the challenge of that
sacrifice which has in principle redeemed our prodigal race’
Mrs Alexander wrote to illustrate the words of the creed, ‘Suffered
under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, dead and buried.’
She begins the first verse by painting a picture. As a skilled teacher
she knew that her first task was to capture a child’s imagination.
The second verse celebrates the mystery of the cross, ‘We may not
know, we cannot tell….’ The passion of Jesus, though difficult to
comprehend, is something he endured for us and for our
salvation. This is explained in the next two verses, ‘He died that we
might be forgiven, he died to make us good… There was no other
good enough to pay the price of sin.’
The hymn ends with a call to ‘love as he has loved us.’
Mrs. Alexander devoted her life to Christian education, to the care
of the young, and the poor. She was buried in her beloved Derry,
outside the city walls.
Her words set the scene of our Lord’s passion and celebrates the
mystery, the purpose, the necessity and the challenge of the cross

There is a green hill far away,
without a city wall,
where the dear Lord was crucified,
who died to save us all.

We may not know, we cannot tell,
what pains he had to bear,
but we believe it was for us
he hung and suffered there.

He died that we might be forgiven,
he died to make us good,
that we might go at last to heaven,
saved by his precious blood.

There was no other good enough
to pay the price of sin;

he only could unlock the gate
of heaven, and let us in.

O dearly, dearly has he loved,
and we must love him too,
and trust in his redeeming blood,
and try his works to do.

The Gospel
Matthew 27:45-54
45 From noon until three in the afternoon darkness came over all the
land. 46 About three in the afternoon Jesus cried out in a loud voice,
“Eli, Eli, [ a ] lema sabachthani?” (which means “My God, my God, why
have you forsaken me?”). [ b ]
47 When some of those standing there heard this, they said, “He’s
calling Elijah.”
48 Immediately one of them ran and got a sponge. He filled it with
wine vinegar, put it on a staff, and offered it to Jesus to drink. 49 The
rest said, “Now leave him alone. Let’s see if Elijah comes to save him.”
50 And when Jesus had cried out again in a loud voice, he gave up his
51 At that moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top
to bottom. The earth shook, the rocks split 52 and the tombs broke
open. The bodies of many holy people who had died were raised to
life. 53 They came out of the tombs after Jesus’ resurrection and [ c ] went
into the holy city and appeared to many people.
54 When the centurion and those with him who were guarding Jesus
saw the earthquake and all that had happened, they were terrified,
and exclaimed, “Surely he was the Son of God!”
The Address
The four gospel narratives describing the events of Good Friday
naturally focus on the hill outside Jerusalem known as Golgotha, or
Calvary. Having described the crucifixion, three of the gospel writers
briefly mention another event that occurred simultaneously with

Christ’s death. It happened a mile or so from Calvary within the
Temple at Jerusalem. The gospel writers say nothing more nor offer
explanation. However, as will be revealed, the event was of great
symbolic significance: some preliminary explanation.
The First Jerusalem Temple was built by the order of King Solomon
in about 940 BC and stood until destroyed by the Babylonians in 586
BC. In 538 BC Cyrus the Great built a second Temple, which in about
20 BC was improved and extended by Herod the Great . Here Christ
was presented as a babe in arms and, as a child, conversed with the
Temple priests. From the same building, shortly before his
crucifixion, he cast out the traders and money changers.
Some fourteen centuries beforehand, the Israelites, having escaped
from Egypt, journeyed to the Promised Land. Along the way,
Moses received the ten commandments from God, and these were
transcribed onto tablets of stone. Thereafter, the stones were
carried through the wilderness in The Ark of the Covenant, a gold-
covered wooden chest with a lid, carried by bearers on wooden poles
in the style of a litter. Later, during the construction of Solomon’s
Temple , a special inner room, named the Holy of Holies , was
prepared to receive and house the Ark. An identical room was
constructed within the second temple.
This inner room was separated into two, designated respectively as
the holy and the most holy place. They were separated by an exquisite
veil or curtain made, according to the Old Testament book of
Chronicles, of blue, purple and crimson yarn sown upon the finest
linen. Entry behind the veil was permitted only for a ritually pure
priest and then only upon the Day of Atonement. The veil
represented a barrier between heaven and earth, behind which
divine secrets were kept.
So, what was the event noted by the writers that occurred
simultaneously with Christ’s death? Matthew Mark and Luke
record ‘the curtain of the temple was torn in two’. (see today’s Gospel
Reading at v.51) The scriptures imply that God himself was
responsible. The destruction then was no mere accident nor act of
vandalism. The veil had been irreparably torn and thus a barrier

between man and God was removed. In a sentence therefore, the
gospel writers provide an explanation for Christ’s crucifixion.

These are based upon the words of Jesus spoken from the cross.
Father forgive them for they know not what they do
We thank you Father that Jesus did as he told others to do and forgive
those who wronged him. Help us to forgive those who wrong us from
our heart.
All: Lord hear our prayer
Truly I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise
We thank you Father that Jesus gave assurance to a man convinced
that he deserved to die. Awaken us to a true understanding of what
we are and what we have done.
All: Lord hear our prayer
Woman behold your son: behold your mother
We give thanks that Jesus thought of others even when dying. Deliver
us from self-pity and for brooding upon our own misfortune. Help us
always to be aware of the needs of others
All: Lord hear our prayer
My God, My God why have you forsaken me?
We thank you Father that Jesus was fully human and no stranger to
the anguish of despair
Help all who are passing through agony of this day
All: Lord hear our prayer
I am thirsty
We thank you Father that someone answered Christ’s cry. Help us to
heed the cry of others who thirst
All: Lord hear our prayer
It is finished
We thank you Father that Jesus died having done your will and
accomplished your work. May we have no cause to regret the use of
our lives
All: Lord hear our prayer

Father, into your hands I commit my spirit
We give thanks that Jesus died trusting in you. May we too share that
confidence through all our days and know that Jesus conquered death
for us all
All: Lord hear our prayer

The conclusion

The text of the following hymn is attributed to Bernard of Clairvaux, a
French abbot and founder of the Cistercian Order in the early twelfth
century. In certain medieval orders, monks would mentally divide the
body of Christ into parts before meditating on each. Bernard wrote a
poem of fifty lines for each part, the head included. The text hymnist
Paul Gerhardt later translated this to German in the seventeenth
century, and from it came the English translation, “O Sacred Head,
surrounded”. In these words, buried beneath grief and shame, is the
pearl of joy. He suffered because of His love for us.
O sacred head, surrounded
by crown of piercing thorn!
O bleeding head, so wounded,
so shamed and put to scorn!
Death’s pallid hue comes o’er thee,
the glow of life decays;
yet angel-hosts adore thee,
and tremble as they gaze.
Thy comeliness and vigour
is withered up and gone,
and in thy wasted figure
I see death drawing on.
O agony and dying!
O love to sinners free!
Jesu, all grace supplying,
turn thou thy face on me.
In this thy bitter passion,
good Shepherd, think of me
with thy most sweet compassion,
unworthy though I be:
beneath thy cross abiding

for ever would I rest,
in thy dear love confiding,
and with thy presence blest.
Concluding prayer
Most merciful God
Who by the death and resurrection of your Son
Jesus Christ
delivered and saved mankind
grant that by faith in him who suffered upon the cross
we may triumph in the power of his victory
through Jesus Christ our Lord