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About the Service

In the larger Christian tradition the Holy Communion is not celebrated on Good Friday. Because of the triumphant, joyous tone inherent in the eucharistic action, such a celebration is inappropriate. There has been in some places a Lutheran custom of celebrating Holy Communion on Good Friday (chiefly in places influenced by the Reformed tradition), but the service often tended to become a kind of funeral service for the Lord, casting a pall of gloom over all the celebrations of the Holy Communion throughout the year and taking on a degree of sentimentality by shifting the focus of the service from the Lord and his cross to our grief at his death. Moreover, the logic of the continuing three-day celebration, which began on Maundy Thursday, suggests that the Holy Communion on Good Friday is unnecessary.

Seen as part of the larger celebration of the mystery of salvation, it is appropriate for Good Friday to be an austere time of reflection and intercession, as well as of the adoration of Christ, the sacrificial Lamb. This note of austerity does not, however, preclude the note of triumph as the final hymns indicate. The congregation gathers on Good Friday to celebrate the Lord’s sacrifice on the cross.

It is most appropriate to hold this service in the afternoon near 3 p.m., the traditional hour of Jesus’ death. Local circumstances may, however, indicate that another time is more suitable.

The altar is left bare of paraments, linens, and ornaments; it is not used at this service. The rite centers instead on one or more reading desks. If paraments are used at all — and they need not be — the reading desk might have a scarlet cloth. Black is permitted by the rubrics, but is less desirable. It is best not to vest the altar or the reading desks, lectern, or pulpit for Good Friday. The chancel, having been stripped on Maundy Thursday, is left bare until it is dressed for Easter.

Organ or other instrumental music should be restricted to the accompaniment of singing. If possible, the people should sing without accompaniment. If the people bring offerings to this service, the gifts are received at the door and they are not presented at the altar.

The ministers vest in albs or surplices. It is inappropriate to wear additional vestments such as stoles, copes, or chasubles, for Good Friday is essentially a day without a proper color and only the basic garment — the alb — is worn. Some may choose to wear a black cassock, or simple black clothes.

Adapting for Home Use

There is nothing in this service that cannot be done in homes, with a group or alone. Consider assigning a Leader (L) and the Congregation (C) or rotate the Leader part among everyone with you. The scripture reading is lengthy and could be rotated around multiple people as well. Prepare a cross at home to use for the final section of the service, or make something resembling a cross (two sticks from outside work well). This can be very simple; if you cannot have a physical object, even a picture of a cross online could work.

Silence is kept as the congregation assembles. Organ or other instrumental music is used only to support the singing.

Prayer of the Day

L    Almighty God, we ask you to look with mercy on your family for whom our Lord Jesus Christ was willing to be betrayed and to be given over to the hands of sinners and to suffer death on the cross; who now lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever.
C    Amen

First Lesson

L    A reading from Isaiah.

Isaiah 52:13-53:12

13 See, my servant shall prosper; he shall be exalted and lifted up, and shall be very high.
14 Just as there were many who were astonished at him—so marred was his appearance, beyond human semblance, and his form beyond that of mortals—
15 so he shall startle many nations; kings shall shut their mouths because of him; for that which had not been told them they shall see, and that which they had not heard they shall contemplate.
53:1 Who has believed what we have heard? And to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?
2 For he grew up before him like a young plant, and like a root out of dry ground; he had no form or majesty that we should look at him, nothing in his appearance that we should desire him.
3 He was despised and rejected by others; a man of suffering and acquainted with infirmity; and as one from whom others hide their faces he was despised, and we held him of no account.
4 Surely he has borne our infirmities and carried our diseases; yet we accounted him stricken, struck down by God, and afflicted.
5 But he was wounded for our transgressions, crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the punishment that made us whole, and by his bruises we are healed.
6 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.
7 He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he did not open his mouth; like a lamb that is led to the slaughter, and like a sheep that before its shearers is silent, so he did not open his mouth.
8 By a perversion of justice he was taken away. Who could have imagined his future? For he was cut off from the land of the living, stricken for the transgression of my people.
9 They made his grave with the wicked and his tomb with the rich, although he had done no violence, and there was no deceit in his mouth.
10 Yet it was the will of the Lord to crush him with pain. When you make his life an offering for sin, he shall see his offspring, and shall prolong his days; through him the will of the Lord shall prosper.
11 Out of his anguish he shall see light; he shall find satisfaction through his knowledge. The righteous one, my servant, shall make many righteous, and he shall bear their iniquities.
12 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, and was numbered with the transgressors; yet he bore the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors.
L    The word of the Lord.
C    Thanks be to God.
Silence for prayer and meditation follows.


O Sacred Head Now Wounded (O Haupt voll Blut und Wunden/Salve Caput Cruentatum)

Attributed to the 12th-century text of Bernard of Clairvaux and Arnulf, Abbot of Villers-la-Ville in the original Latin; Translated by Paul Gerhardt into German; Translated by James W. Alexander into English; Music by Hans Leo Hassler

O sacred Head, now wounded, with grief and shame weighed down;
now scornfully surrounded with thorns, thine only crown;
O sacred Head, what glory, what bliss ’til now was thine!
Yet, though despised and gory, I joy to call thee mine.

What thou, my Lord, hast suffered was all for sinners’ gain:
mine, mine was the transgression, but thine the deadly pain.
Lo, here I fall, my Savior! ‘Tis I deserve thy place;
look on me with thy favor, vouchsafe to me thy grace.

What language shall I borrow to thank thee, dearest Friend,
for this, thy dying sorrow, thy pity without end?
O make me thine forever; and should I fainting be,
Lord, let me never, never outlive my love to thee.

Second Lesson

L    A reading from Hebrews.

Hebrews 4:14-16; 5:7-9

14 Since, then, we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast to our confession. 15 For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who in every respect has been tested as we are, yet without sin. 16 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.
5:7 In the days of his flesh, Jesus offered up prayers and supplications, with loud cries and tears, to the one who was able to save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverent submission. 8 Although he was a Son, he learned obedience through what he suffered; 9 and having been made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him.
L    The word of the Lord.
C    Thanks be to God.
Silence for prayer and meditation follows.

Gospel Acclamation

C    Look to Jesus, who for the sake of the joy that was set before him endured the cross, disregard- | ing its shame,*
and has taken his seat at the right hand of the | throne of God.


Gospel Lesson

L    The passion of our Lord Jesus Christ according to John.

John 18:1-19:42

18:1 After Jesus had spoken these words, he went out with his disciples across the Kidron valley to a place where there was a garden, which he and his disciples entered. 2 Now Judas, who betrayed him, also knew the place, because Jesus often met there with his disciples. 3 So Judas brought a detachment of soldiers together with police from the chief priests and the Pharisees, and they came there with lanterns and torches and weapons. 4 Then Jesus, knowing all that was to happen to him, came forward and asked them, “Whom are you looking for?” 5 They answered, “Jesus of Nazareth.” Jesus replied, “I am he.” Judas, who betrayed him, was standing with them. 6 When Jesus said to them, “I am he,” they stepped back and fell to the ground. 7 Again he asked them, “Whom are you looking for?” And they said, “Jesus of Nazareth.” 8 Jesus answered, “I told you that I am he. So if you are looking for me, let these men go.” 9 This was to fulfill the word that he had spoken, “I did not lose a single one of those whom you gave me.” 10 Then Simon Peter, who had a sword, drew it, struck the high priest’s slave, and cut off his right ear. The slave’s name was Malchus. 11 Jesus said to Peter, “Put your sword back into its sheath. Am I not to drink the cup that the Father has given me?”

12 So the soldiers, their officer, and the Jewish police arrested Jesus and bound him. 13 First they took him to Annas, who was the father-in-law of Caiaphas, the high priest that year. 14 Caiaphas was the one who had advised the Jews that it was better to have one person die for the people.

15 Simon Peter and another disciple followed Jesus. Since that disciple was known to the high priest, he went with Jesus into the courtyard of the high priest, 16 but Peter was standing outside at the gate. So the other disciple, who was known to the high priest, went out, spoke to the woman who guarded the gate, and brought Peter in. 17 The woman said to Peter, “You are not also one of this man’s disciples, are you?” He said, “I am not.” 18 Now the slaves and the police had made a charcoal fire because it was cold, and they were standing around it and warming themselves. Peter also was standing with them and warming himself.

19 Then the high priest questioned Jesus about his disciples and about his teaching. 20 Jesus answered, “I have spoken openly to the world; I have always taught in synagogues and in the temple, where all the Jews come together. I have said nothing in secret. 21 Why do you ask me? Ask those who heard what I said to them; they know what I said.” 22 When he had said this, one of the police standing nearby struck Jesus on the face, saying, “Is that how you answer the high priest?” 23 Jesus answered, “If I have spoken wrongly, testify to the wrong. But if I have spoken rightly, why do you strike me?” 24 Then Annas sent him bound to Caiaphas the high priest.

25 Now Simon Peter was standing and warming himself. They asked him, “You are not also one of his disciples, are you?” He denied it and said, “I am not.” 26 One of the slaves of the high priest, a relative of the man whose ear Peter had cut off, asked, “Did I not see you in the garden with him?” 27 Again Peter denied it, and at that moment the cock crowed.

28 Then they took Jesus from Caiaphas to Pilate’s headquarters. It was early in the morning. They themselves did not enter the headquarters, so as to avoid ritual defilement and to be able to eat the Passover. 29 So Pilate went out to them and said, “What accusation do you bring against this man?” 30 They answered, “If this man were not a criminal, we would not have handed him over to you.” 31 Pilate said to them, “Take him yourselves and judge him according to your law.” The Jews replied, “We are not permitted to put anyone to death.” 32 (This was to fulfill what Jesus had said when he indicated the kind of death he was to die.)

33 Then Pilate entered the headquarters again, summoned Jesus, and asked him, “Are you the King of the Jews?” 34 Jesus answered, “Do you ask this on your own, or did others tell you about me?” 35 Pilate replied, “I am not a Jew, am I? Your own nation and the chief priests have handed you over to me. What have you done?” 36 Jesus answered, “My kingdom is not from this world. If my kingdom were from this world, my followers would be fighting to keep me from being handed over to the Jews. But as it is, my kingdom is not from here.” 37 Pilate asked him, “So you are a king?” Jesus answered, “You say that I am a king. For this I was born, and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone who belongs to the truth listens to my voice.” 38 Pilate asked him, “What is truth?”

After he had said this, he went out to the Jews again and told them, “I find no case against him. 39 But you have a custom that I release someone for you at the Passover. Do you want me to release for you the King of the Jews?” 40 They shouted in reply, “Not this man, but Barabbas!” Now Barabbas was a bandit.

19:1 Then Pilate took Jesus and had him flogged. 2 And the soldiers wove a crown of thorns and put it on his head, and they dressed him in a purple robe. 3 They kept coming up to him, saying, “Hail, King of the Jews!” and striking him on the face. 4 Pilate went out again and said to them, “Look, I am bringing him out to you to let you know that I find no case against him.” 5 So Jesus came out, wearing the crown of thorns and the purple robe. Pilate said to them, “Here is the man!” 6 When the chief priests and the police saw him, they shouted, “Crucify him! Crucify him!” Pilate said to them, “Take him yourselves and crucify him; I find no case against him.” 7 The Jews answered him, “We have a law, and according to that law he ought to die because he has claimed to be the Son of God.”

8 Now when Pilate heard this, he was more afraid than ever. 9 He entered his headquarters again and asked Jesus, “Where are you from?” But Jesus gave him no answer. 10 Pilate therefore said to him, “Do you refuse to speak to me? Do you not know that I have power to release you, and power to crucify you?” 11 Jesus answered him, “You would have no power over me unless it had been given you from above; therefore the one who handed me over to you is guilty of a greater sin.” 12 From then on Pilate tried to release him, but the Jews cried out, “If you release this man, you are no friend of the emperor. Everyone who claims to be a king sets himself against the emperor.”

13 When Pilate heard these words, he brought Jesus outside and sat on the judge’s bench at a place called The Stone Pavement, or in Hebrew Gabbatha. 14 Now it was the day of Preparation for the Passover; and it was about noon. He said to the Jews, “Here is your King!” 15 They cried out, “Away with him! Away with him! Crucify him!” Pilate asked them, “Shall I crucify your King?” The chief priests answered, “We have no king but the emperor.” 16 Then he handed him over to them to be crucified.

So they took Jesus; 17 and carrying the cross by himself, he went out to what is called The Place of the Skull, which in Hebrew is called Golgotha. 18 There they crucified him, and with him two others, one on either side, with Jesus between them. 19 Pilate also had an inscription written and put on the cross. It read, “Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews.” 20 Many of the Jews read this inscription, because the place where Jesus was crucified was near the city; and it was written in Hebrew, in Latin, and in Greek. 21 Then the chief priests of the Jews said to Pilate, “Do not write, ‘The King of the Jews,’ but, ‘This man said, I am King of the Jews.’” 22 Pilate answered, “What I have written I have written.” 23 When the soldiers had crucified Jesus, they took his clothes and divided them into four parts, one for each soldier. They also took his tunic; now the tunic was seamless, woven in one piece from the top. 24 So they said to one another, “Let us not tear it, but cast lots for it to see who will get it.” This was to fulfill what the scripture says,

“They divided my clothes among themselves,
and for my clothing they cast lots.”

25 And that is what the soldiers did.

Meanwhile, standing near the cross of Jesus were his mother, and his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. 26 When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple whom he loved standing beside her, he said to his mother, “Woman, here is your son.” 27 Then he said to the disciple, “Here is your mother.” And from that hour the disciple took her into his own home.

28 After this, when Jesus knew that all was now finished, he said (in order to fulfill the scripture), “I am thirsty.” 29 A jar full of sour wine was standing there. So they put a sponge full of the wine on a branch of hyssop and held it to his mouth. 30 When Jesus had received the wine, he said, “It is finished.” Then he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.

31 Since it was the day of Preparation, the Jews did not want the bodies left on the cross during the sabbath, especially because that sabbath was a day of great solemnity. So they asked Pilate to have the legs of the crucified men broken and the bodies removed. 32 Then the soldiers came and broke the legs of the first and of the other who had been crucified with him. 33 But when they came to Jesus and saw that he was already dead, they did not break his legs. 34 Instead, one of the soldiers pierced his side with a spear, and at once blood and water came out. 35 (He who saw this has testified so that you also may believe. His testimony is true, and he knows that he tells the truth.) 36 These things occurred so that the scripture might be fulfilled, “None of his bones shall be broken.” 37 And again another passage of scripture says, “They will look on the one whom they have pierced.”

38 After these things, Joseph of Arimathea, who was a disciple of Jesus, though a secret one because of his fear of the Jews, asked Pilate to let him take away the body of Jesus. Pilate gave him permission; so he came and removed his body. 39 Nicodemus, who had at first come to Jesus by night, also came, bringing a mixture of myrrh and aloes, weighing about a hundred pounds. 40 They took the body of Jesus and wrapped it with the spices in linen cloths, according to the burial custom of the Jews. 41 Now there was a garden in the place where he was crucified, and in the garden there was a new tomb in which no one had ever been laid. 42 And so, because it was the Jewish day of Preparation, and the tomb was nearby, they laid Jesus there.
Silence for prayer and meditation follows.


Lamb of God, Host Holy (O Lamm Gottes, Unschuldig/Agnus Dei)

Based on Nicolaus Decius’s 16th-century text in the original German; Translated into English by Arthur T. Russell; Music by F. Melius Christiansen

Lamb of God most holy!
Who on the cross didst suffer,
Patient still and lowly,
Thyself to scorn didst offer;
Our sins by Thee were taken,
Or hope had us forsaken:
Have mercy on us, O Jesus!




Bidding Prayer

The minister leads the invitations to prayer (the bids). Silence for prayer follows each bid. The minister leads the prayers that conclude the silence.
L    Let us pray, brothers and sisters, for the holy Church of God throughout the world, that God the almighty Father guide it and gather it together, so that we may worship him in peace and tranquility.
Silent prayer.
L    Almighty and eternal God, you have shown your glory to all nations in Jesus Christ. Guide the work of the Church. Help it to persevere in faith, proclaim your name, and bring salvation to people everywhere. We ask this through Christ our Lord.
C    Amen

L    Let us pray for Dan our bishop, for    name    our dean, for    name/s    our pastor/s, for    name/s    and all servants of the Church, and for all the people of God.
Silent prayer.
L    Almighty and eternal God, your Spirit guides the Church and makes it holy. Strengthen and uphold our pastors and our leaders; keep them in health and safety for the good of the Church, and help each of us to do faithfully the work to which you have called us. We ask this through Christ our Lord.
C    Amen

L    Let us pray for those preparing for Baptism, that God make them responsive to his love, and give them new life in Jesus Christ.
Silent prayer.
L    Almighty and eternal God, you continually bless the Church with new members. Increase the faith and understanding of those preparing for Baptism. Give them a new birth as your children, and keep them in the faith and communion of your holy Church. We ask this through Christ our Lord.
C    Amen

L    Let us pray for all our brothers and sisters who share our faith in Jesus Christ, that God may gather and keep together in one Church all those who know Christ as Lord.
Silent prayer.
L    Almighty and eternal God, you give your Church its unity. Look with favor on all who follow Jesus your Son. We are all consecrated to you by our Baptism; make us one in the fullness of faith, and keep us one in the fellowship of love. We ask this through Christ our Lord.
C    Amen

L    Let us pray for the Jewish people, the first to hear the Word of God, that they may receive the fulfillment of the covenant’s promises.
Silent prayer.
L    Almighty and eternal God, long ago you gave your promise to Abraham and his posterity. Hear the prayers of your Church that the people you first made your own may arrive with us at the fullness of redemption. We ask this through Christ our Lord.
C    Amen

L    Let us pray for those who do not believe in Christ, that the light of the Holy Spirit may show them the way of salvation.
Silent prayer.
L    Almighty and eternal God, enable those who do not acknowledge Christ to receive the truth of the Gospel. Help us, your people, to grow in love for one another, to grasp more fully the mystery of your Godhead, and so to become more perfect witnesses of your love in the sight of all people. We ask this through Christ our Lord.
C    Amen

L    Let us pray for those who do not believe in God, that they may find him who is the author and goal of our existence.
Silent prayer.
L    Almighty and eternal God, you created humanity so that all might long to know you and have peace in you. Grant that, in spite of the hurtful things that send in their way, they may all recognize in the lives of Christians the tokens of your love and mercy, and gladly acknowledge you as the one true God and Father of us all. We ask this through Christ our Lord.
C    Amen

L    Let us pray for those who serve in public office, that God may guide their minds and hearts, so that all of us may live in true peace and freedom.
Silent prayer.
L    Almighty and eternal God, you are the champion of the poor and oppressed. In your goodness, watch over those in authority, so that people everywhere may enjoy justice, peace, freedom, and a share in the goodness of your creation. We ask this through Christ our Lord.
C    Amen

L    Let us pray that God, the almighty and merciful Father, may heal the sick, comfort the dying, give safety to travelers, free those unjustly deprived of liberty, and rid the world of falsehood, hunger, and disease.
Silent prayer.
L    Almighty and eternal God, you give strength to the weary and new courage to those who have lost heart. Hear the prayers of all who call on you in any trouble, that they may have the joy of receiving your help in their need. We ask this through Christ our Lord.
C    Amen

L    Finally, let us pray for all those things for which our Lord would have us ask.
C    Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name, thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread; and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us; and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever and ever. Amen



As a rough-hewn cross is carried in procession through the church and placed in front of the altar, the following versicles and responses are said or sung. (When there is no procession, they are simply repeated in sequence.)
L    Behold, the life-giving cross on which was hung the salvation of the whole world.
C    Oh, come, let us worship him.
L    Behold, the life-giving cross on which was hung the salvation of the whole world.
C    Oh, come, let us worship him.
L    Behold, the life-giving cross on which was hung the salvation of the whole world.
C    Oh, come, let us worship him.
Silence is kept for meditation on the mystery of the crucified Savior, the mystery of redemption. To conclude the meditation:


Ah, Holy Jesus (Herz Liebster Jesu/Meditationes)

Based on Jean de Fecamp’s 11th-century text in the original Latin; Translated and adapted by Johann Heermann into German; Translated and paraphrased by Robert S. Bridges into English; Music by Johann Crüger; Arrangement by Timothy Shaw

Ah, holy Jesus, how hast thou offended, that we to judge thee have in hate pretended?
By foes derided, by thine own rejected, O most afflicted!

Who was the guilty? Who brought this upon thee? Alas, my treason, Jesus, hath undone thee!
‘Twas I, Lord Jesus, I it was denied thee; I crucified thee.

Lo, the Good Shepherd for the sheep is offered; the slave hath sinned, and the Son hath suffered.
For our atonement, while we nothing heeded, God interceded.

For me, kind Jesus, was thy incarnation, thy mortal sorrow, and thy life’s oblation;
thy death of anguish and thy bitter passion, for my salvation.

Therefore, kind Jesus, since I cannot pay thee, I do adore thee, and will ever pray thee,
think on thy pity and thy love unswerving, not my deserving.



Sing My Tongue, the Glorious Battle (Pange, Lingua, Gloriosi Proelium Certaminis)

Based on Venantius Honorius Clematianus Fortunatus’s 6th-century text in the original Latin; Translated by John M. Neale into English; Music by Bob Chilcott

Sing, my tongue, the glorious battle; sing the ending of the fray.
Now above the cross, the trophy, sound the loud triumphant lay:
tell how Christ, the world’s Redeemer, as a victim won the day.

God in pity saw man fallen, shamed and sunk in misery,
when he fell on death by tasting fruit of the forbidden tree:
then another tree was chosen which the world from death should free.

L    We adore you, O Christ, and we bless you.
C    By your holy cross you have redeemed the world.
The ministers leave in silence. Worshipers may remain for prayer and meditation.

Resources compiled by the Rev. Andrew Ames Fuller, director of communications for the North American Lutheran Church and an ordained deacon in the Anglican Church in North America. Liturgies adapted from the Lutheran Book of Worship, ©1978 Augsburg Publishing House and Lutheran Church in America Publication Board.