Lectionary - Good Friday - Years A, B and C

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Isaiah 52:13 to 53:12 The suffering servant
Psalm 22 My God, My God why have you forsaken me
Hebrews 4:14-16; 5:7-9 We have a great high priest
or Hebrews 10:16-25 The new and living way he opened for us
John 18:1 to 19:42 The arrest, trial and crucifixion of Jesus

Suggested Hymns (From Denis Towner. TIS = Together in Song; AHB = Australian Hymn Book; SA = Sing Alleluia)

Isaiah 52: 13 - 53: 12
Lord Christ we praise your sacrifice TIS.251 SA.60
See, Christ was wounded for our sake AHB.275

Psalm 22
All who see me deride me TIS.9 SA.67
From heaven you came, helpless babe TIS.256 AT Everybody.256
Lord, hear my praying, listen to me TIS.689

Hebrews 10: 16-25
Glory be to Jesus TIS.344 AHB.263
In suffering love the thread of life TIS.177 SFGP.53
O dearest Lord, thy sacred head TIS.352 AHB.539

John 18: 1 - 19: 42
At the cross, her vigil keeping TIS.334 AHB/CS.609
Before the cock crew twice TIS.340 AHB.256
O dearest Jesus, why aren't you acquitted TIS.337 AHB.254
O sacred head, sore wounded TIS.339 AHB.255
There is a green hill far away TIS.350 AHB.266
Were you there when they crucified my Lord TIS.345 AHB.261
Woman in the night TIS.661

Other Possible Hymns

(See order of service. Numbers refer to The Australian Hymn Book and Sing Alleluia.)

Order of Service for Good Friday | RCL Resources Index |

[Note: The following liturgy is primarily a service of contemplation on the scripture passages in the lectionary although only a few verses of the epistle are included. It rehearses the story beginning with the promises and insights of the Old Covenant and concentrates on the details of the work of Christ as the suffering servant. Congregational response is largely in the hymns and in silence, but there is provision for other responses in the opening prayers and in the litany (or reproaches) for Good Friday. The church is expected to be cleared of symbols in the traditional manner, no liturgical colours are worn and lighting should be subdued. It is probably advisable to have one or two well practiced voices for the readings in addition to the worship leader.

Click here for music by Gordon Ramsey for the hymn Pieta, or the alternative tunes suggested may be used. Other hymns, might, of course, be preferred.

Much depends on the creative use of silence, for which the leader will need a good sense of timing appropriate to the particular group and situation. People who are not practised in the art of meditation typically need some help to focus and structure their thoughts, but less structure is better than more and longer silence is better than less. The following order of service was used for three successive years and revised in the process, usually by omission rather than addition. Further shortening may be advantageous. Whatever the length of the service, no pressure of time should be felt.

People might be encouraged at the beginning to concentrate on listening, rather than on reading, and on freeing their minds of distraction to allow the words of scripture to do their own work. It helps sometimes if people can imagine themselves as part of the scene. A few hints along these lines can be helpful, but a long wordy introduction risks being a distraction from worship.]

A Service of Contemplation


God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life. -- John 3:16
We have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast to our confession.

We have one who in every respect has been tested as we are, yet without sin.
Let us therefore approach the throne of grace with boldness, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.
-- Hebrews 4:14-16

HYMN 6 O love of God, how deep, how broad, how high!

OLD TESTAMENT Isaiah 52:13 to 53:12 The suffering servant


"Therefore I will allot him a portion with the great, and he shall divide the spoil with the strong; because he poured out himself to death." (Isaiah:53:12). [Pause]

As we reflect upon the work of Christ as the suffering servant, we who now benefit look back from the other side of the resurrection, in a time of grace, we look back in hope. We grieve in remembrance, but not without hope. Let us then in hopeful gratitude enter with him into the shadow of death. We recall the words of the psalm which became the cry of despair from the Cross "My God, my God why have you forsaken me"; and we listen then for the words of assurance and promise which follow.

PSALM 22:1-18 My God, my God why have you forsaken me

MEDITATION The cry from the cross [from Mark 15:34]

At three o'clock Jesus cried out with a loud voice, "Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?" which means, "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?"

PSALM 22:19-31 All the ends of the earth shall remember


Posterity will serve him; future generations will be told about the Lord, [Pause]
and proclaim his deliverance to a people yet unborn, .... [Silence] (Psalms 22:30-31)

HYMN 254 Ah, holy Jesus, how hast thou offended

FIRST GOSPEL READING John 18:1-14 The arrest in the garden


What kind of man is this? [Silence]

.... they came with lanterns and torches and weapons ... [Pause]
Jesus said to them, "I am he," they stepped back and fell to the ground [Pause]
Jesus said to Peter, "Put your sword back into it sheath." [Silence]

SECOND GOSPEL READING John 18:15-25 Peter's denial and the High Priest



Do we sometimes feel ashamed of our relationship with Jesus? Why? [Pause]

"Did I not see you in the garden with him?" [Silence]
All we like sheep have gone astray; we have all turned to our own way, and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all. -- Isaiah 53:6


Lord Jesus, loving and suffering with us and for us, we are ashamed of our unfaithfulness, yet we look to you. Forgive us, we beseech you.


God made you alive together with him, when he forgave us all our trespasses, erasing the record that stood against us with its legal demands. He set this aside, nailing it to the cross. -- Colossians 2:13b-14

All praise to you Lord Jesus Christ.

THIRD GOSPEL READING John 18:28-38a Jesus is taken to Pilate

REFLECTION: What is truth?


Now, there's a question! What is truth? And truth was standing right there in from of him! Had he not said, "I am the way, the truth and the life"! Yet, what was a king doing "bearing witness to the truth"? What sort of a kingdom could he have?

FOURTH GOSPEL READING John 18:38b to 19:16 The trial before Pilate



They kept coming up to him, saying, "Hail, King of the Jews!" [Pause]

"Hail, King!" [Pause]
"King of the Jews?" -- Messiah? [Silence]
"Hail, King of the Jews!"

HYMN 265 In the cross of Christ I glory

FIFTH GOSPEL READING John 19:17-30 The crucifixion

HYMN Pieta [86.86 Tune Pieta by Gordon Ramsay or St. Magnus or Morning Song]

O painful, painful, painful day!
My Lord, my flesh, my son;
the breath of life you breathed away,
was life in God now won.

The pain of birth you chose to make
a sign of God's new life.
So for God's Kingdom you now take
the pain, the curse, the knife.

"Here is your son", you said to me,
"Mother", to one well loved.
Disciples all, we are to be,
in grief and love embraced.

O painful, painful, painful day!
That joy through tears may come,
I do believe, and hope to say,
when you have led me home.
© David Beswick, 1997


A BRIEF REFLECTION ON THE WORD - or very brief meditative sermon freely spoken by the worship leader.


Is it nothing to you, all you that pass by?
Look and see if there is any sorrow like my sorrow. [Lamentations l:12]

The Lord says:
My people, what have I done to you?
How have I offended you? Answer me!
I led you from slavery to freedom,
but you led your Saviour to the cross.
I brought you out of Egypt,
but you handed me over to the high priests.
Holy God,
holy and mighty, holy and immortal One,
have mercy on us.
My people, what have I done to you?
How have I offended you? Answer me!
I led you on your way in a pillar of cloud,
but you led me to Pilate's court.
I bore you up with manna in the desert,
but you struck me down and scourged me.
Holy God,
holy and mighty, holy and immortal One,
have mercy on us.
My people, what have I done to you?
How have I offended you? Answer me!
I gave you a royal scepter,
but you gave me a crown of thorns.
I raised you to the height of majesty,
but you have raised me high on a cross.
Holy God,
holy and mighty, holy and immortal One,
have mercy on us.
My people, what have I done to you?
How have I offended you? Answer me!
I gave you saving water from the rock,
but you gave me gall and vinegar to drink.
For you I struck down the kings of Canaan,
but you pierced your Saviour with a lance.
Holy God,
holy and mighty, holy and immortal One,
have mercy on us.
We adore you, O Christ, and we bless you.
By your holy cross you have redeemed the world.
If we have died with him, we shall also live with him.
If we endure, we shall also reign with him.
We adore you, O Christ, and we bless you.
By your holy cross you have redeemed the world.
[`A Litany for Good Friday' from Uniting in Worship, adapted from the Reproaches for Good Friday, Missal of the Roman Catholic Church.]

Almighty God, look graciously, we pray, on this your family, for whom our Lord Jesus Christ was willing to be betrayed and given into the hands of sinners. Grant that, through faith in him who suffered death on the cross for our salvation, we may know the power of his resurrection; who now lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.


Lord Jesus, you carried our sins in your own body on the tree you came so that we might have life. May we and all who remember this day find new life in you, now and in the world to come, where you live and reign with the Father and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.
[From Uniting in Worship.]


OFFERING [Lenten Appeal]

HYMN 262 We sing the praise of him who died

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