This service, which is normally celebrated in the afternoon, is a continuation of the Maundy Thursday liturgy and hence begins in silence as the night before ended in silence.
Traditionally the holy table is completely bare until covered by a clean white cloth for the Ministry of the Sacrament. All hangings are removed.
This service normally consists of four parts:
1. The Ministry of the Word, with a focus on the Passion.
2. The Solemn Intercession.
3. The Meditation on the Cross of Jesus.
4. The Ministry of the Sacrament.
An alternative order could be 1,3,2,4 following the Ambrosian rite (which however had no communion).
Communion or not?
Having no communion on Good Friday is the most ancient tradition. In the early church, receiving communion would have been regarded as breaking the fast that lasted from Good Friday until the Easter Eucharist. Among the Orthodox, during Lent the Eucharist is celebrated on Saturdays, Sundays, and feast days. On other days the liturgy of the presanctified is celebrated (this is akin to receiving from the reserved Sacrament), but not on Good Friday, unless this falls on March 25, the feast of the Annunciation.
From the time of the seventh century, the custom developed in the West of receiving communion (both bread and wine) from the Sacrament reserved after the Maundy Thursday Eucharist.
Celebrating the Eucharist on Good Friday forms a third possibility. This follows the insight that the Eucharist is particularly a celebration and proclamation of Christ’s death (1 Corinthians 11:26).
Liturgical colour: Red.
The Ministry of the Word
The service is normally without instrumental music except if needed to accompany congregational singing. The ministers enter in silence. All kneel for silent prayer. When all are standing the presider may greet the people with the following:
Blessed be our God, for ever and ever. Amen.
Let us pray.
Holy and everliving God, look graciously on this your family for which our Saviour Jesus Christ was willing to be betrayed, and to suffer death upon the cross; and grant us to grow into the fullness of new life in Christ who now is alive and glorified with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.
Refrain (after every two verses): My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?
or Hebrews 4:14-16;5:7-9
The Passion Gospel is announced in the following manner.
The Passion of our Lord Jesus Christ according to John.
The customary Gospel responses are omitted at the reading of the Passion.
Roles may be assigned to different people and the congregation. The congregation may be seated until the verse which mentions the arrival at Golgotha (John 19:17) at which time all stand. A moment of silence is appropriately kept at Christ’s death (after John 19:30).
The term “the Jews” in St. John’s Gospel whilst generally at that time a title for Judeans, applies in this context to particular individuals rather than the whole Jewish people. Insofar as we ourselves turn against Christ, we are responsible for his death.
The Solemn Intercession
The biddings which follow may be adapted as appropriate. The people may be directed to stand or kneel. The biddings may be read by a deacon or other person appointed. The presider says the collects. After each time of silence there may be a versicle and response such as, God of love grant our prayer.
Let us pray for the one holy catholic and apostolic Church of Christ throughout the world:
for its unity in witness and service, for all bishops and other ministers and the people whom they serve, for N our bishop, and all the people of this diocese, for all Christians in this community, for those about to be baptised (particularly…), that God will confirm the Church in faith, increase it in love, and preserve it in peace.
Faithful and compassionate God, your Spirit guides the Church and makes it holy; hear the prayers we offer, that in the particular ministry to which you have called us, we may serve you faithfully, through Jesus Christ our Saviour. Amen.
Let us pray for all nations and peoples of the earth, and for those in authority among them: for N the Prime Minister and for the government of this country, for N our mayor and those who serve with him/her on the council, for all who serve the common good, that by God’s help they may seek justice and truth, that all might live in peace and harmony.
Faithful and compassionate God, kindle, we pray, in every heart the true love of peace, and guide with your wisdom those in authority, that justice, peace, and freedom may increase, until the earth is filled with the knowledge of your love; through Jesus Christ our Saviour. Amen.
Let us pray for all who suffer: for the hungry and the homeless, the deprived and the oppressed, for the sick, the wounded, and the handicapped, for those in loneliness and in fear, for those in confusion, doubt, and despair, for the sorrowful and bereaved, for prisoners, and all at the point of death, that God’s love will comfort and sustain them, and that we may be stirred up to minister to them.
Faithful and compassionate God, the comfort of all who sorrow, the strength of all who suffer, hear the cry of all who call on you in any trouble, grant them the joy of receiving your help in their need, and give us, we pray, the strength to serve them, through Jesus Christ our Saviour. Amen.
Let us pray for all who do not believe the gospel of Christ: for those who have never heard the message of salvation, for those who have lost their faith, for those who are indifferent to Christ, for those who actively oppose Christ by word or deed, and persecute Christ’s disciples, for those who in the name of Christ have persecuted others, that God will open their hearts to the truth, and lead them to faith and obedience.
Faithful and compassionate God, you create and love all the peoples of the earth; may your good news be so lived and proclaimed, that all are brought home to your presence, through Jesus Christ our Saviour. Amen.
Let us commit ourselves to God, and pray for the grace of a holy life, that with all who have died in the peace of Christ, and with those whose faith is known to God alone, we may enter the fullness of life in the joy of Christ’s resurrection.
God, our refuge and strength, accept the fervent prayers of your people, and bring to fulfilment your plan for all creation, through Jesus Christ your First?]born, who is alive with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.
The service may be concluded here with the singing of a hymn, the Lord’s Prayer, and the concluding prayer below.
The Meditation on the Cross of Jesus
If desired, a wooden cross may now be brought into the church and placed in the sight of the people. The following may be sung or said (three times if desired):
Behold the cross, on which hung the Saviour of the world. Come let us worship.
Appropriate devotions may follow, which may include suitable hymns, anthems, and the following:
My people, what wrong have I done to you? How have I offended you? Answer me! Through baptism, I led you from slavery to freedom, but you lead your Saviour to the cross.
Holy God, holy and merciful, holy and just, have mercy upon us.
I led you through the wilderness. I fed you with the bread of life, the manna from heaven, but you lead your Saviour to the cross. Holy God, holy and merciful, holy and just, have mercy upon us.
I planted you as my fairest vineyard, I grafted you into the one true vine, I gave you the water of salvation, but you give me gall and vinegar to drink, and leave me thirsting upon a cross.
Holy God, holy and merciful, holy and just, have mercy upon us.
I gave you a royal sceptre, but you give me a crown of thorns. I raised you up to newness of life, but you raise me high upon a cross. Holy God, holy and merciful, holy and just, have mercy upon us.
What more could I have done for you? I gave you my peace and my truth, but you fight in my name, and divide my Church. Holy God, holy and merciful, holy and just, have mercy upon us.
I come in your brother and sister, hungry, yet you give me no food, thirsty, yet you give me no drink, a stranger, and you do not welcome me, naked, and you do not clothe me, sick and in prison, and you do not visit me. Holy God, holy and merciful, holy and just, have mercy upon us.
A hymn extolling the cross is sung.
The service may be concluded here with the Lord’s Prayer, and the concluding prayer below.
The Ministry of the Sacrament
In places where the Eucharist is to be celebrated, the service continues with the Preparation of the Gifts from any of the Eucharistic Liturgies.
Variation/Addition to the Great Thanksgiving: Passiontide.
In places where Holy Communion is to be administered from the reserved Sacrament, the holy table having been covered with a clean white cloth, and the Sacrament having been brought and placed on the altar, the service may continue at the Communion in any of the Eucharistic Liturgies.
The service may conclude with the following. No blessing or dismissal is added, and the ministers depart in silence.
We adore you, O Christ, and we bless you. By your holy cross you have redeemed the world.
God of our redemption, abundantly bless your people who have devoutly recalled the death of Christ; grant us forgiveness, renew us, strengthen our faith, and increase in us the fullness of life; we ask this through Christ our Saviour. Amen.
Alternative introduction to the Lord’s Prayer:
Let us pray for the forgiveness of our sins as Jesus taught us.
Let us ask God to forgive our sins and to help us forgive those who sin against us.
How The Good Friday Liturgy Can Change Your Life
Most of us aren’t strangers to the Good Friday service, or Good Friday itself, for that matter — but sometimes we go through the motions and miss the richness behind the liturgy we’re partaking in. What’s so special about celebrating Good Friday liturgy?
The most important thing to note is that the service is an opportunity to enter into Jesus’ suffering and death — and realize in a deeper, or even new, way — that he died for you personally. We can arrive at that place by having a disposition of fully entering into the rites and letting our hearts be moved through them, according to Father Daniel Cardo, pastor at Holy Name Parish and chaplain at Christ in the City.
“We should experience it in a very personal way — through the rites, we don’t need to change anything — it’s very ancient and that’s very moving,” Father Cardo said. “But through that, we should arrive to the experience of, ‘He died for me,’ to be able to say that and mean that.”
“The most important disposition is entering into the rites — it’s clearly unique. We start in silence, and then the priest prostrates himself. Those prayers are very ancient, and we’re not aware of how ancient they are,” Father Cardo added. “The main point would be to pay attention, to listen, to see the gestures, seeing and adoring the cross as an expression of love.”
The rite of Good Friday offers us the opportunity to actually participate in Christ’s suffering through its various parts.
It’s important to note, however, that it’s not Mass we’re celebrating. It’s technically a communion service with four main parts: the Liturgy of the Word, general intercessions, veneration of the cross and communion. So why a communion service instead of celebrating Mass?
“Traditionally, there’s never been a Mass on Good Friday per se. The main reason is that it’s seen by the Church as a day of mourning, a day of participating in the suffering of Christ, experiencing that absence,” Father Cardo said.
In the Church’s tradition, the Good Friday rites developed organically over time, so that the structure that formed by the eighth century is what we still celebrate today, according to Father Cardo.
The first part of the rite, the Liturgy of the Word, is special because we enter into the story of Jesus’ passion and death on the cross. But we shouldn’t listen to it just like any other Sunday Mass readings.
“The main benefit is participating in that suffering and experiencing that pain. We shouldn’t be afraid of it,” Father Cardo said. “We have a very emotional understanding of joy, but there is room for participating in the pain of Christ, because we want to be where he is. We suffer with hope, and it’s important to let our hearts be moved by what the Church offers.”
In participating in Jesus’ offering of himself to God the Father, we have a special opportunity to offer intercessions with him, and participate in the ancient tradition of the Church, where intercessions originated. Next, the service offers a veneration of the cross — one of the most moving parts of the liturgy, said Father Cardo.
“That rite comes from Jerusalem, when St. Helena discovered the cross. People would go and see the cross exposed and kiss the cross. That’s why today we approach and kiss the cross,” Father Cardo explained. “The Church invites us to break the routine so that we can appreciate more deeply the gift of the cross, and so, we cover all crosses until we see the cross again as we adore it on Good Friday.”
“The other part is the communion service, a liturgy in which you don’t consecrate the Eucharist, but receive what’s been previously consecrated,” Father Cardo added.
These various parts offer for the faithful an opportunity to “stay awake” with Jesus.
“It’s saying to Christ, ‘I’m going to be with you in your suffering so I can continue to be with you in your victory,’” said Father Cardo.
We can do this by making an extra effort “to listen, to see, to let those gestures inform our way of feeling, to let him take us to his passion and resurrection,” he said.
This experience of entering into the liturgy in such a profound way isn’t just a “remembering,” Father Cardo said.
“One of the unique aspects to the Church is liturgy makes those events a reality — it performs what it signifies. We’re not just remembering, we are suffering with him because he’s suffering for us.”
IT’S SAYING TO CHRIST, ‘I’M GOING TO BE WITH YOU IN YOUR SUFFERING SO I CAN CONTINUE TO BE WITH YOU IN YOUR VICTORY.’”
He pointed out, that because the Triduum rites are so intense and carefully observed, it signals how carefully the rites are preserved from what was practiced in ancient times.
“There’s a difference between the Western and the Easter Church [rites]. Originally, the Roman liturgy was very sober, and what we celebrate now was the first part of the celebration. Later, we assumed some practices of the Eastern Church, like the adoration of the cross,” Father Cardo said. “With the most intense times of the liturgy, we’ve preserved more carefully the most primitive elements — they’re more sober, but extremely eloquent.”
If we allow our hearts to be moved by Jesus’ death for us, the liturgy won’t just a one-day experience, but something that changes the way we live daily.
“Maybe we can think again back to the experience of saying, ‘He did it for me, he was thinking of me,’” Father Cardo said. “Good Friday is one day a year that we contemplate exclusively love until the end, so hopefully we unfold a profound gratitude and live the consequences of that love every day in a very humble and honest way.”