Good Friday

The Solemn Reproaches are an ancient text of western Christendom associated with Good Friday and come at the conclusion of the service. They may also be incorporated at the end of Palm/Passion Sunday worship or the Maundy Thursday service. The reproaches follow the pattern of Psalm 78, which rehearses God's continuing acts of faithfulness and Israel's repeated rebellion. The words of the first reproach are:

  • O my people, O my church,
    What have I done to you,
    or in what have I offended you?
    Testify against me.
    I led you forth from the land of Egypt
    and delivered you from the waters of baptism,
    but you have prepared a cross for your Savior.

Each of the succeeding reproaches follows a similar pattern, calling to mind God's saving acts and concluding with the same words: "but you have prepared a cross for your Savior." Following each reproach the congregation responds with a prayer for mercy, either simply: "Lord have mercy upon us;" or the traditional Trisagion ("the thrice holy"): "Holy God, holy and mighty, Holy immortal One, have mercy upon us."

The service may then conclude with an appropriate hymn or spiritual and the worshippers depart in silence.

(For the complete text of the Solemn Reproaches consult Hoyt L. Hickman, Don E. Saliers, Laurence Hull Stookey, and James F. White, The New Handbook of the Christian Year (Abingdon); Book of Common Worship (Westminster John Knox); or Reformed Worship  (Issue 66). For jazz harmonies arranged by Robert Buckley Farlee, see  Solemn Reproaches of the Cross (Augsburg Fortress). 

Written by John Paarlberg, pastor of First Church in Albany, New York

Additional Resources

Services for Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, and Easter Vigil are published in the Book of Common Worship (1993, Westminster John Knox).

Sundays and Seasons (Augsburg Fortress, annual) is another good resource.

The Worship Sourcebook. Calvin Institute of Christian Worship, Faith Alive Christian Resources, and Baker Books, 2004. Services for Ash Wednesday, Lent, Passion/Palm Sunday, Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, and Easter are included in this book (and accompanying CD).

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