Good Friday Liturgy

A puzzled (English) Anglican here. Why is Good Friday so often the missing element of the Triduum liturgy? I have always understood that the celebration of the Passion and Resurrection begins with the Maundy Thursday eucharist, and continues with the Liturgy of the Passion on Good Friday, concluding with the Easter Liturgy which may or may not be on Holy Saturday night but whenever it is celebrated seals and completes the celebration.

Looking at Holy Week programmes, it seems that one can usually expect the Maundy Thursday Eucharist (with or without the Watch) , and of course the Easter liturgy either on Saturday night, Sunday morning or both. But many churches seem to chicken out of the traditional liturgy in favour of 'meditations', Stations of the Cross, or something weird and wonderful dreamed up by the vicar.

Even by the minimalist standards of the Book of Common Prayer one would expect the reading of the Passion and prayers of intercession. Common Worship (Times and Seasons) provides the full traditional liturgy including veneration of the Cross and Holy Communion, yet it seems strangely neglected. It's arguably the most solemn day of the Church's year, and taking part in the traditional rites is such a powerful experience for many of us. I'd feel deprived if I couldn't do that, or at least listen to (and mentally partake in) the Passion story.

Comments

  • angloidangloid Shipmate
    Clarification: in the middle paragraph I meant to say 'the traditional liturgy of Good Friday' (for some reason the edit button wasn't working)
  • If I had to guess, it's because the traditional liturgy is weird. I mean, I love it dearly and always make an effort to go and would miss it terribly if it were abolished. But it's probably one of the most counter-culturally weird things that Western Catholic (including Anglican) Christians do. It's even weird compared to the normal Eucharist. There are prostrations, and so many processions, and kissing crucifixes, and (possibly) things chanted three times in an ascending pitch... And it's done barefoot if you're at all lucky. That's real embodied religion of the sort that Anglophones tend to associate with suspicious foreigners.

    "Meditations" are much more in keeping with the wider culture.

    The only thing Christian liturgy that's any stranger is Ash Wednesday. Actually, come to think of it, Ash Wednesday is popular and seemingly increasingly so (with "ashes to go" and all). So I don't know.

    My experience in the UK is that it seems most people treat it as a bank holiday like any other. It's different in the US, of course. Here, many people have to work.
  • john holdingjohn holding Ecclesiantics Host, Mystery Worshipper Host
    First, the Good Friday liturgy in question is not traditional in the CofE or most Anglican churches. In Canada, for example, it first appeared in the 1980s with out BAS. Prior to that, what was "traditional" varied from parish to parish -- the Seven Last Words and the THree Hours being common, but then so was the Morning Prayer with Sermon (12-1)/Antecommunion with Sermon (1-2)/(choral) evensong (2-3). These were all attempts fostered I expect by the Oxford Movement reformers to bring back observance of Good Friday. Previously, observance was rare, and there was no liturgy proposed in the 1662 BCP except for what might be done on a standard weekday.

    Second, I don't at all recognize our (ACC) Good Friday liturgy in Columba's "There are prostrations, and so many processions, and kissing crucifixes, and (possibly) things chanted three times in an ascending pitch... And it's done barefoot if you're at all lucky." That sounds to me far more like a tridentine observance, and not anything one would be likely to run into at any but the most nose-bleed ultramontane anglican parish.
  • edited April 14
    That sounds to me far more like a tridentine observance, and not anything one would be likely to run into at any but the most nose-bleed ultramontane anglican parish.

    What I have described is what I would consider a fairly standard "traditional" Solemn Liturgy.

    The rubrics for the liturgy in the Ordinary Form of the Roman Rite also include a prostration (although allowing kneeling instead), processions, and reverencing the cross (the means are not stated, but I can't believe kissing isn't envisioned). "Behold the Wood of the Cross" is still sung thrice, although there is no longer any mention of doing so in an ascending tone. I don't think the current rubrics mention bare feet, but I believe it is done barefooted at the Vatican.

    The rubrics for the the 1979 American BCP are decidedly minimalist. They state only that, "if desired, a wooden cross may now be brought into the church and placed in the sight of the people. Appropriate devotions may follow."

    What do you do?
  • angloidangloid Shipmate
    First, the Good Friday liturgy in question is not traditional in the CofE or most Anglican churches.

    What is traditional is the Book of Common Prayer 1662 which expects that the Passion according to St John is read, along with other scriptures, and that the prayers of the Church are offered. Even this doesn't seem to be offered in many churches these days.

    Modern liturgical developments have made the traditional Western Catholic rites for Holy Week much more common, and acceptable, in Anglican churches of all traditions. But seemingly not so much on Good Friday. That's what puzzles me.

  • There was a time (during a loooong interregnum) when all Our Place could offer on Good Friday morning was 'Stations', conducted AIUI in a seemly and edifying manner by our then Churchwarden (no Blue-Scarfed Menaces being to hand.... :worried: ).

    Since those Dark Days, we have had another priest-in-charge, who reintroduced the Liturgy, with Passion Gospel, Solemn Collects. Veneration of the Cross, and Holy Communion - all in accordance with the provisions of Common Worship 2000.

    Done, I may say, in quite a simple, even minimalistic, way.

    For 2017 and 2018, a friendly retired priest (he calls himself Father Polyfilla, as he fills in the cracks.... :wink: ) obliged with the same, but this year we have Father NewPriest officiating.

    AFAIK, he's also keeping the mixture as before, but with no organ music (just 2 hymns, sung a capella), and with a cantor singing The Reproaches (which we've not done previously).

    Silence in Church before the Liturgy - hot cross buns in the Hall afterwards!

    I wonder how many churches still offer BCP Matins, Litany, and Ante-Communion?

  • BabyWombatBabyWombat Shipmate
    When I was a child, our RCC parish had Good Friday services at noon, and they were packed. But... all schools, parochial and public, were closed and many businesses (the one my father worked for included) closed in time so those who wished to attend could arrive on time. All that ended with the 70's, and noon services compete with the workday, last minute shopping for the Easter fesast and so on.

    I have done the simple format of TEC BCP for Good Friday -- no prostration, no 'creeping to the cross', no chanted Lamentations -- many times. Attendance was minimal. My colleaque would conduct Stations of the Cross on Good Friday evening and get a small handful. Holy Week is packed with goodies if the clergy and choirs have the moxie to make it happen, but sadly attendance just isn't there.
  • angloidangloid Shipmate
    What's attendance to do with it? Obviously you lay on services at the times that are most convenient for the majority, but 'when two or three...' The important thing is that the liturgy of the Church is offered.
  • "The important thing is that the liturgy of the Church is offered". I have to say that Nonconformists wouldn't think in that way at all - they would usually offer what "works" best for their people, both in timing and content (though many in my view would stick too rigidly to a "hymn-prayer sandwich).
  • angloidangloid Shipmate
    Well of course. I'm talking about the C of E. Different traditions; no disrespect to either.
  • BroJamesBroJames Purgatory Host
    Even in the Church of England there are many who wouldn’t agree that the most important thing is the offering of the liturgy of the Church if it is done in such away that many in the Church find it hard to engage with.

    Peter Toon writing in the Prayer Book Society’s website says
    The Book of Common Prayer (1662) provides Collects, an Epistle and Gospel for this GOOD Friday and the general Anglican tradition has been to have only Ante-Communion this day and to encourage meditation, prayer and quiet in church and at home.
    However since the 1850s the more Catholic tradition has moved to a fuller observation of the Triduum, and other traditions have sought other ways of enabling people to worship and reflect. Various official and quasi official resources have been increasingly made available over the last three to four decades, as well as a range of individual local traditions.
  • PDRPDR Shipmate

    I wonder how many churches still offer BCP Matins, Litany, and Ante-Communion?

    Very late on this one, but I was not around in April to answer.

    Former Parish, and now Present Mission have both been introduced to the joys of BCP Morning Prayer, Litany and Ante-Communion, and Evening Prayer on Good Friday. My deviation from the straight and narrow is the Litany and Ante-Communion being extended by a sermon, the solemn collects, reproaches, and veneration.

    I used to spread the four services out over the three hours, but these days it tends to be MP at 9am; Litany and Ante-Communion at 5:30pm, with EP about 6:45pm. The switch was made due to changing working patterns, which meant that the only folks making the 12 to 3 slot tended to be retired.
  • A few years ago I attended the Good Friday liturgy at an Anglo-Catholic TEC parish- complete with the reproaches, veneration of the cross, etc. It was a packed service and easily one of the most beautiful services I have seen in any church. I would love to see this practice more widely.
  • PDR wrote: »

    I wonder how many churches still offer BCP Matins, Litany, and Ante-Communion?

    I don't know. I've attended it once at St. Botolph's, Cambridge, which is very BCP in a sort of old fashioned MOTR liberal way. Across the road, the much higher Little St. Mary's has BCP Matins and Litany in the morning, preaching of the passion at noon, then the Solemn Liturgy, then a break before stations of the cross, and then another break before sung Tenebrae. No wonder that it was jocularly known as "a church for people who really like church."

    When living in London, I also attend what purported to be choral Matins for Good Friday at St. Paul's Cathedral. It was quite nice, but bore very little relationship to the BCP service one might expect. It was really more of a posh hymn (and anthem) sandwich, featuring the Allegri Miserere as its centerpiece (I think in the place where a strict BCP service would have had the Te Deum, but I can't recall precisely -- it was a while ago).
  • Alan29Alan29 Shipmate
    edited June 17
    I'm a RC parish musician.
    We KNOW what to do, and the church is always packed to the doors. No problem.
    One of my favourite parts is the solemn intercessions which start with the pope and work their way down through other churches, other religions and atheists to finally arrive at politicians.
    Makes I larf!
  • PDRPDR Shipmate
    My old joke about Anglicans is they usually know what to do, but getting them to do it is a whole other thing. One bishop I worked under sent around anguished memo each year asking that the clergy 'please follow the rubrics of the BCP in the placement of the confirmation rite within the Eucharist.'

    <rant>IMHO, Good Friday attracts more of the pioneer spirit when it comes to liturgy than any other day. My problem is the non-liturgical alternatives - Stations, the Three Hours Rigor Mortis, etc., - usually bore me fartless, and whilst they are worthy additions to the prescripted liturgy, they should not replace it </rant>

    If St Paul's was being creative, they could claim the authority of the 1928 Deposited BCP for the Miserere. I think it also allowed one to omit the Venite on GF, but without going upstairs and rummaging I am not sure.
  • ZappaZappa Ecclesiantics Host
    "Stations,[and] the Three Hours Rigor Mortis" have me reaching for my "sign up to become a Hindu" documents ...
  • Alan29Alan29 Shipmate
    edited June 21
    Our RC parish hosts ecumenical Stations on the evening of Palm Sunday. This started 30+ years ago, and our separated brethren attendees used to come in numbers and seemed to enjoy the experience. Shared Eucharistic events are a challenge for RCs so this fitted the bill.
    Recently numbers have dropped as our current priest favours meditations that focus on Mary's reactions (not very useful unless you happen to be the mother of the Messiah) and how she silently looked on as her son is killed (as Jewish mothers famously do.)
  • PDRPDR Shipmate
    Zappa wrote: »
    "Stations,[and] the Three Hours Rigor Mortis" have me reaching for my "sign up to become a Hindu" documents ...

    I had quite a few years in my teens and early-20s when my response to Good Friday was to listen to either of Bach's surviving passions. What went on in church was a major incentive to revert to agnosticism. I hope that things are better now, but last time I checked Homechurch still doesn't do the Good Friday Liturgy, but what sounds like some sort of free form thing.
  • Alan29 wrote: »
    Recently numbers have dropped as our current priest favours meditations that focus on Mary's reactions (not very useful unless you happen to be the mother of the Messiah) and how she silently looked on as her son is killed (as Jewish mothers famously do.)

    Our previous p-in-c did this, and O what a load of dreary and sentimental claptrap he came up with!
    :angry:

  • PDRPDR Shipmate
    After years of dreary and sentimental claptrap, the first time I actually ran into a proper Good Friday liturgy was an enjoyable revelation!
  • edited June 22
    Alan29 wrote: »
    Recently numbers have dropped as our current priest favours meditations that focus on Mary's reactions (not very useful unless you happen to be the mother of the Messiah) and how she silently looked on as her son is killed (as Jewish mothers famously do.)

    Our previous p-in-c did this, and O what a load of dreary and sentimental claptrap he came up with!
    :angry:

    On the other hand, Tavener's Lament of the Mother of God is magnificent. I wouldn't have said that the text, from one of the Orthodox Holy Week liturgies, is "dreary and sentimental claptrap," but ymmv.
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