Reflections from The Church of St. Luke in the Fields
April 6, 2012 § 2 Comments
Sung by the St. Paul’s Cathedral Choir, London, directed by John Scott.
The Reproaches are so beautiful, a favorite part of the Good Friday Liturgy for me – heart rending. I also appreciate a contemporary take by Janet Morley, All Desires Known: Inclusive Prayers for Worship and Meditation (expanded edition) p43
holy and strange,
holy and intimate,
have mercy on us.
O my people, what have I done to you?
How have I offended you?
I brooded over the abyss,
with my words I called forth creation:
but you have brooded on destruction,
and manufactured the means of chaos.
O my people…
I breathed life into your bodies,
and carried you tenderly in my arms:
but you have armed yourselves for war,
breathing out threats of violence.
I made the desert blossom before you,
I fed you with an open hand:
but you have grasped the children’s food,
and laid waste to fertile lands.
I abandoned my power like a garment,
choosing your unprotected flesh:
but you have robed yourselves in privilege,
and chosen to despise the abandoned.
O my people…
I would have gathered you to me as a lover,
and shown you the ways of peace:
but you have desired security,
and you would not surrender your self.
I have torn the veil of my glory,
transfiguring the earth:
but you have disfigured my beauty,
and turned away your face.
I have laboured to deliver you,
as a woman delights to give life:
but you have delighted in bloodshed,
and laboured to bereave the world.
I have followed you with the power of my spirit,
to seek truth and heal the oppressed:
but you have been following a lie,
and returned to your own comfort.
This version is a great improvement over the traditional text used by Victoria. Victoria’s splendid music aside, the traditional text’s Old Testament references in connection with the crucifixion perpetuate the ugly accusation that the Jewish people, in a betrayal, were guilty of Christ’s death. I’ve heard all the explanations, that we, as Christians, are now part of the Old Testament tradition, sharing brotherhood with Israel. But the older I get the more I realize that simply does not wash. Each year I’m pained that my parish in its Good Friday liturgy perpetuates this shameful current in Christian history.
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