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, Dead Horses 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.
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