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Meditations, readings, prayers and hymns for GOOD FRIDAY

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1pm Chester Cathedral on line

Archbishop of Canterbury

3pm BBC Radio 4 Meditation for Good Friday


Leader We adore you, O Christ, and we bless you:

All because by your holy cross

you have redeemed the world.

Holy God,

Holy and strong,

Holy and immortal,

have mercy upon us.


Cross of Jesus, cross of sorrow, Tune: Cross of Jesus

where the blood of Christ was shed,

perfect man on thee was tortured,

perfect God on thee has bled.

Here the King of all the ages

throned in light e’re worlds could be,

robed in mortal flesh is dying,

crucified by sin for me.

O mysterious condescending!

O abandonment sublime!

Very God himself is bearing

all the suffering of time

Evermore for human failure,

by his Passion we can plead;

God has born all mortal anguish,

surely he will know our need.

This – all human thought surpassing –

this is earth’s most awful hour,

God has taken mortal weakness!

God has laid aside his power!

Cross of Jesus,Cross of sorrow,

where the blood of Christ was shed,

perfect man on thee was tortured,

perfect God on thee has bled.

First Reading

Jesus Before Caiaphas

Matthew 26: 57 – 68

Those who had arrested Jesus took him to Caiaphas, the high priest, where the teachers of the law and the elders had assembled. But Peter followed him at a distance, right up to the courtyard of the high priest. He entered and sat down with the guards to see the outcome.

The chief priests and the whole Sanhedrin were looking for false evidence against Jesus so that they could put him to death. But they did not find any, though many false witnesses came forward. Finally two came forward and declared, "This fellow said, 'I am able to destroy the temple of God and rebuild it in three days.' "

Then the high priest stood up and said to Jesus, "Are you not going to answer? What is this testimony that these men are bringing against you?" But Jesus remained silent.

The high priest said to him, "I charge you under oath by the living God: Tell us if you are the Christ, the Son of God." "Yes, it is as you say," Jesus replied. "But I say to all of you: In the future you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Mighty One and coming on the clouds of heaven."

Then the high priest tore his clothes and said, "He has spoken blasphemy! Why do we need any more witnesses? Look, now you have heard the blasphemy. What do you think?" "He is worthy of death," they answered. Then they spit in his face and struck him with their fists. Others slapped him and said, "Prophesy to us, Christ. Who hit you?"

Second Reading

Peter Denies Jesus

Matthew 26: 69 – 75

Now Peter was sitting out in the courtyard, and a servant girl came to him. "You also were with Jesus of Galilee," she said. But he denied it before them all. "I don't know what you're talking about," he said.

Then he went out to the gateway, where another girl saw him and said to the people there, "This fellow was with Jesus of Nazareth." He denied it again, with an oath: "I don't know the man!"

After a little while, those standing there went up to Peter and said, "Surely you are one of them, for your accent gives you away." Then he began to call down curses on himself and he swore to them, "I don't know the man!"

Immediately a rooster crowed. Then Peter remembered the word Jesus had spoken: "Before the rooster crows, you will disown me three times." And he went outside and wept bitterly

Leader Upon all who have been forsaken,

All Lord, come in your mercy.

Leader Upon all who have been betrayed by a kiss,

All Lord, come in your mercy.

Leader Upon all who are deserted by friends,

All Lord, come in your mercy.

Leader Upon all misunderstood by loved ones,

All Lord, come in your mercy.

Leader Upon all who are in physical pain,

All Lord, come in your mercy.

Leader Upon all suffering mental anguish,

All Lord, come in your mercy.

Leader Upon all at the point of death,

All Lord, come in your mercy.

Third Reading

Jesus Before Pilate

Matthew 27: 1 – 2, 11 – 26

Early in the morning, all the chief priests and the elders of the people came to the decision to put Jesus to death. They bound him, led him away and handed him over to Pilate, the governor…

… Jesus stood before the governor, and the governor asked him, "Are you the king of the Jews?" "Yes, it is as you say," Jesus replied. When he was accused by the chief priests and the elders, he gave no answer. Then Pilate asked him, "Don't you hear the testimony they are bringing against you?" But Jesus made no reply, not even to a single charge--to the great amazement of the governor.

Now it was the governor's custom at the Feast to release a prisoner chosen by the crowd. At that time they had a notorious prisoner, called Barabbas. So when the crowd had gathered, Pilate asked them, "Which one do you want me to release to you: Barabbas, or Jesus who is called Christ?" For he knew it was out of envy that they had handed Jesus over to him.

While Pilate was sitting on the judge's seat, his wife sent him this message: "Don't have anything to do with that innocent man, for I have suffered a great deal today in a dream because of him."

But the chief priests and the elders persuaded the crowd to ask for Barabbas and to have Jesus executed. "Which of the two do you want me to release to you?" asked the governor. "Barabbas," they answered. "What shall I do, then, with Jesus who is called Christ?" Pilate asked. They all answered, "Crucify him!" "Why? What crime has he committed?" asked Pilate. But they shouted all the louder, "Crucify him!"

When Pilate saw that he was getting nowhere, but that instead an uproar was starting, he took water and washed his hands in front of the crowd. "I am innocent of this man's blood," he said. "It is your responsibility!" All the people answered, "Let his blood be on us and on our children!" Then he released Barabbas to them. But he had Jesus flogged, and handed him over to be crucified.


My song is love unknown, Tune: Love Unknown

my Saviour’s love to me,

love to the loveless shown,

that they might lovely be.

O who am I, that for my sake,

my Lord should take frail flesh and die?

He came from his blest throne,

salvation to bestow;

but sin made blind, and none

the longed-for Christ would know,

but O, my friend, my friend indeed,

who at my need his life did spend!

Sometimes they strew his way,

and his sweet praises sing;

resounding all the day

hosannas to their King:

then ‘crucify!’ is all their breath,

and for his death they thirst and cry.

Why what hath my Lord done?

What makes this rage and spite?

He makes the lame to run,

he gave the blind their sight.

Sweet injuries! Yet they at these

themselves displease and ‘gainst him rise.

They rise, and needs will have

my dear Lord made away;

a murder they save,

the Prince of Life they slay.

Yet cheerful he to suff’ring goes,

that he his foes from thence might free.

Here might I stay and sing,

no story so divine;

never was love, dear King,

never was grief like thine.

This is my friend in whose sweet praise

I all my days could gladly spend.

Samuel Crossman (1624 – 1684)

Fourth Reading

Jesus Is Mocked

Matthew 27: 27 – 31

The governor's soldiers took Jesus into the Praetorium and gathered the whole company of soldiers around him.

They stripped him and put a scarlet robe on him,

and then twisted together a crown of thorns and set it on his head. They put a staff in his right hand and knelt in front of him and mocked him. "Hail, king of the Jews!" they said. They spit on him, and took the staff and struck him on the head again and again.

After they had mocked him, they took off the robe and put his own clothes on him. Then they led him away to crucify him.

Meditation Receive Your Cross – S Anne Lawson

Receive your cross, Lord.

Your heavy cross.

Innocent God, receive your cross.

The heavy, rough hewn beam

Your criminal’s prize.

Receive its weight, Lord.

Bear it on your masculine shoulders.

Feel the rough splinters enter your skin.

Begin your painful, shameful journey

Bearing your cross to Calvary.

Receive your Cross, Lord,

And as you bear its heavy weight,

Receive my sin; my heavy sin.

Bear my painful, shameful gift

Along the road to Calvary.

© S Anne Lawson

November 2005

Fifth Reading

Jesus Is Crucified

Matthew 27: 32 – 44

[As they were taking Jesus out to be crucified], they met a man from Cyrene, named Simon, and they forced him to carry the cross.

They came to a place called Golgotha (which means The Place of the Skull). There they offered Jesus wine to drink, mixed with gall; but after tasting it, he refused to drink it.

When they had crucified him, they divided up his clothes by casting lots. And sitting down, they kept watch over him there.

Above his head they placed the written charge against him: this is Jesus, the king of the Jews. Two robbers were crucified with him, one on his right and one on his left.

Those who passed by hurled insults at him, shaking their heads and saying, "You who are going to destroy the temple and build it in three days, save yourself ! Come down from the cross, if you are the Son of God!" In the same way the chief priests, the teachers of the law and the elders mocked him. "He saved others," they said, "but he can't save himself ! He's the King of Israel! Let him come down now from the cross, and we will believe in him. He trusts in God. Let God rescue him now if he wants him, for he said, 'I am the Son of God.' " In the same way the robbers who were crucified with him also heaped insults on him.

Meditation True Beauty Two – S Anne Lawson

Lord Jesus Christ

Icon of the Father

You are true beauty,

Not in triumph at the right hand of the Father,

But in your crucified nakedness.

In the vulnerability of the crucifixion

You are truly beautiful.

Before your cross I stand.

Icon of the Father.

My beauty found in Christ alone.

Not in the triumph of resurrection life,

But in my crucifixion with Christ.

In entering his vulnerability

Is found my true beauty.

© S Anne Lawson

24 June 2000

Adapted March 2006

Sixth Reading

The Death of Jesus

Matthew 27: 45 – 56

From the sixth hour until the ninth hour darkness came over all the land.

About the ninth hour Jesus cried out in a loud voice, ""Eloi, Eloi," "lama" "sabachthani?""--which means, "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?"

When some of those standing there heard this, they said, "He's calling Elijah." Immediately one of them ran and got a sponge. He filled it with wine vinegar, put it on a stick, and offered it to Jesus to drink. The rest said, "Now leave him alone. Let's see if Elijah comes to save him." And when Jesus had cried out again in a loud voice, he gave up his spirit.

At that moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. The earth shook and the rocks split. The tombs broke open and the bodies of many holy people who had died were raised to life. They came out of the tombs, and after Jesus' resurrection they went into the holy city and appeared to many people.

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!"

Many women were there, watching from a distance. They had followed Jesus from Galilee to care for his needs. Among them were Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James and Joses, and the mother of Zebedee's sons.

Meditation I Can Find No Words – S Anne Lawson

My Lord, I can find no words.

No response is adequate.

Not to your desperate, desolate cry.

“Eloi, eloi, lama sabach-thani?”

“My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?”

A desloate cry of isolation

From beyond the gates of Hell.

My Lord, I can find no words.

No response to your desolate cry.

You stand instead of me

Inside the gates of Hell

Alone and separate from the Father.

The Father’s back is turned away.

His presence is withdrawn.

You stand alone

and no response can answer to your cry

“Eloi, eloi, lama sabach-thani?”


O sacred head surrounded Tune: Passion Chorale

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 on me

with thy most sweet compassion,

unworthy thought I be:

beneath thy cross abiding

for ever would I rest,

in thy dear love confiding,

and with thy presence blest.

Meditation Deposition – S Anne Lawson

It is finished.

Three long, agonising hours

have passed. It is finished.

Jesus himself said so

and hung his head.

It is finished.

The hopes, the dreams,

the longings. All finished.

Only the shell of a once

vibrant body remains;

limp and useless as his

disciples’ dreams.

The body cut down.

Limp as a scarecrow.

Passed to his disciples;

helpless now all hope has died.

It is finished.

His mother, elderly now, worn out.

Stooped, limp and finished,

takes her son’s tired body

and wraps it once more

in swaddling cloths,

and lies him in the tomb as once

she laid him in the manger.

© S Anne Lawson

Holy Week 2020


Christ, who died for our sins,

forgive the penitent.

Lord, have mercy.

Christ who shared our griefs,

comfort the sorrowing.

Lord, have mercy

Christ who thirsted on the cross,

bring relief to the hungry.

Lord, have mercy

Christ forsaken by all,

be with the lonely and the sad.

Christ, have mercy.

Christ mocked and scorned,

support the outcasts and rejected.

Christ, have mercy.

Christ who suffered great pain,

be a strength to the weak.

Christ, have mercy.

Christ, who died for us all,

grant us your salvation.

Lord, have mercy.

Christ crucified, done to death and buried,

give us hope.

Lord, have mercy.

Christ who descended into hell,

raise us to glory.

Lord, have mercy.

Standing at the foot of the cross,

let us pray with confidence as our Saviour has taught us.

Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name;

thy kingdom come; thy will be done;

on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread.

And forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation;

but deliver us from evil. For thine is the kingdom,

the power and the glory, for ever and ever.


Seventh Reading

Jesus is Laid in the Tomb

Matthew 27: 57 - 61

Meditation Triduum for COVID- 19: Holy Saturday – A Day Beside the Tomb – S Anne Lawson

So it is finished. Hope gone.

The body cut down from the cross;

laid in a fresh hewn tomb

in haste before the Sabbath.

We sit and wait.

An in between day without an end.

A pause; a nothingness;

between death and resurrection.

And this strange Holy Week,

we too sit and wait among fresh hewn tombs.

A pause; a nothingness; an in between;

as Spring bursts forth and promises

a resurrection which must surely come.

© S Anne Lawson

Holy Week 2020


Praise to the holiest in the height Tune: Gerontius

and in the depts be praise;

in all his words most wonderful,

most sure in all his ways

O loving wisdom of our God!

when all was sin and shame,

a second Adam to the fight,

and to the rescue came.

O wisest love! that flesh and blood,

which did in Adam fail,

should strive afresh against the foe,

should strive and should prevail.

And that a higher gift than grace

should flesh and blood refine,

God’s presence and his very self,

and essence all-divine.

And in the garden secretly,

and on the cross on high

should teach his brethren, and inspire

to suffer and to die.

Praise to the Holiest in the height,

and in the depth be praise;

in all his words most wonderful,

most sure in all his ways.

John Henry Newman (1801 – 1890)

Final Prayer

Through his wounds may you find healing;

through his pain may you find relief.

Through his suffering may you find freedom;

Through his cross may you find victory.

Christ, who by his death destroyed death

raise you up to the life which is eternal.

Hymns copied with permission under

CCLI Licence No: 2152821

Meditations © S Anne Lawson