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Notes on the Notes – April 10, 2020

Good Friday

John 18:1-19:42

Service music:

“Beneath the Cross of Jesus” (VU #135)

“Beneath the cross of Jesus I fain would take my stand:
The shadow of a mighty rock within a weary land,
A home within the wilderness, a rest upon the way,
From the burning of the noon-tide heat and the burden of the day.

I take, O cross, your shadow for my abiding place;
I ask no other sunshine than the sunshine of his face,
Content to let the world go by, to know no gain nor loss,
My sinful self my only shame, my glory all, the cross.”

As we join our hearts together in worship, we sing this familiar hymn by Elizabeth Clephane (1868).  In the hymn, Elizabeth alludes to a passage in Isaiah that speaks of “the shade of a great rock in a weary land” (Isaiah 32:1-2).  Perhaps one reason that this hymn has become so well-loved is that we know what it means to live in a weary land.  We feel the need of a mighty rock to shelter us from the heat.   Jesus’ cross is that resting place.  Jesus’ cross is our home within the wilderness, our rest upon the way.

“Shadows Gather, Deep and Cold” (VU #134)

“Shadows gather, deep and cold;
Lamplight flickers, fades and fails.
Lord, you know what daybreak holds:
Thorns and beatings, cross and nails.
You will be denied, betrayed
When the rooster wakes the sun.
Yet you kneel alone and pray,
“Not my will, but thine be done.”

In the watches of the night;
In the hour when darkness reigns,
In the grief that has no light,
In the time of fear and pain,
Then we hold fast to your way,
To the victory you have won.
Jesus, teach us how to pray,
“Not my will, but thine be done.”

As we enter into the story of Christ’s passion, we hear about Judas, the disciple who betrays Jesus.  This hymn, with words by Sylvia Dunstan (1992) and music by David Kai (1994), takes us to the night of Jesus’ betrayal.  It also brings us to the present “hour when darkness reigns,”  reminding us to keep our faith in God, as Jesus did.

“Peter Wept a Bitter Tear”

“Bold and faithful servant,
Disciple of Christ,
Loyal companion and friend;
Yet in the courtyard,
Near the glowing fire,
Denial and sin!

Peter wept a bitter tear in the early morning light;
There he cried alone in fear for his defiance in the night.
Pain and anguish filled his heart from words that echoed in his ear.
Peter wept a bitter tear.”

This song by Lloyd Larson (2003) takes us to the place in the Gospel story where Peter, having denied Jesus, comes face to face with what he has done.   The rock on which Christ was to build his church, at this moment, has failed and crumbled under the pressure of human weaknesses.

“O God, Why are You Silent?” (MV #73)

“O God, why are you silent?
I cannot hear your voice.
The proud and strong and violent
All claim you and rejoice.
You promised you would hold me with tenderness and care.
Draw near, O Love, enfold me,
And ease the pain I bear.

May pain draw forth compassion,
Let wisdom rise from loss.
O take my heart and fashion the image of your cross.
Then may I know your healing through healing that I share,
Your grace and love revealing your tenderness and care.”

These lyrics by Marty Haugen (2003) are set to the beloved PASSION CHORALE, written by Hans Leo Hassler (1601) and harmonized by Johann Sebastian Bach (1729).   As Barabbas is freed and Jesus is handed over to be crucified, we are faced with the injustice of freeing a thief while sentencing an innocent man to death.   The lyrics give voice to the struggle to remain faithful to God when presented with the choices between the ease and safety of going with the crowd as contrasted to having the faith and courage needed to stay true to what we believe is right.

“Go to Dark Gethsemene” (VU #133)

See him at the judgment hall, beaten, bound, reviled, arraigned;
See him meekly bearing all; love to all his soul sustained.
Shun not suffering, shame, or loss; learn from Christ to bear the cross.”

The second verse of the hymn “Go to Dark Gethseme” retells the story of Jesus’ meeting with Pilate.  The words are by James Montgomery (1820) with music by Richard Redhead (1853).

 “My Soul Cries Out” (MV #120)

“My soul cries out with a joyful shout that the God of my heart is great,
And my spirit sings of the wondrous things that you bring to the ones who wait.
You fixed your sight on your servant’s plight, and my weakness you did not spurn,
So from east to west shall my name be blest.
Could the world be about to turn?

On this Good Friday, as she waits at the foot of Jesus’ cross, we are reminded of Mary’s “yes!” to God from Advent’s Magnificat.   The words are by Rory Cooney (1990), set to the traditional Irish melody, STAR OF THE COUNTY DOWN.

“Were You There” (VU 144)

“Were you there when they crucified my Lord?

Were you there when they laid him in the tomb?

Sometimes it causes me to tremble, tremble, tremble.

Were you there…?”

William E. Barton published “Were You There?” in Old Plantation Hymns (1899).  Written prior to 1865, the hymn’s author is unknown, but the words are based on the crucifixion of Christ’s.  Believers would reflect on Christ’s sufferings and the consolation of the gospel.

“Where Joy and Sorrow Meet”

“There’s a place of quiet stillness ‘tween the light and shadows’ reach,
Where the hurting and the hopeless seek everlasting peace.
Words of men and songs of angels whisper comfort bittersweet,
Mingling grief and life eternal where joy and sorrow meet.

There is a place where hope remains in crowns of thorns and crimson stains,
And tears that fall on Jesus’ feet:
Where joy and sorrow meet.

There’s a place the lost surrender and the weary will retreat,
Full of grace and mercy tender in times of unbelief.
For the wounded, there is healing,
Strength is given to the weak;
Broken hearts find love redeeming:
Where joy and sorrow meet.

There is a place where hope remains in crowns of thorns and crimson stains,
And tears that fall on Jesus’ feet:
Where joy and sorrow meet.

As we close our Good Friday service, we are left with the hope of Easter Sunday.  This song is an abbreviated version of the anthem by David James White (2005).


Categories: Notes on the Notes