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The Solemn Reproaches of the Cross: An Ancient Ending for a Good Friday Service

The Solemn Reproaches is an ancient text of Western Christendom associated with the ending of a Good Friday service. The reproaches follow the pattern of Psalm 78, which rehearses God’s continuing acts of faithfulness and Israel’s repeated rebellion.

Each reproach follows a similar pattern, calling to mind God’s saving acts and concluding with the same words: “but you have prepared a cross for your Savior.” Following each reproach the congregation responds with a prayer for mercy, either simply “Lord, have mercy upon us,” or with the traditional Trisagion (“the thrice holy” sung response from the Orthodox tradition; see box). The service may then conclude with an appropriate hymn or spiritual, and the worshipers depart in silence.

—John Paarlberg, minister for social witness and worship for the Reformed Church in America.

O my people, O my church,
what have I done to you,
or in what have I offended you?
Answer me.
I led you forth from the land of Egypt
and delivered you by the waters of baptism,
but you have prepared a cross for your Savior.







Sung Response: Holy, holy, holy God, holy almighty God, holy, holy almighty God, have mercy upon us. (See box.)

I led you through the desert forty years,
and fed you with manna.
I brought you through tribulation and penitence,
and gave you my body, the bread of heaven,
but you have prepared a cross for your Savior.





Response

What more could I have done for you
that I have not done?
I planted you, my chosen and fairest vineyard,
I made you the branches of my vine;
but when I was thirsty, you gave me vinegar to drink
and pierced with a spear the side of your Savior,
and you have prepared a cross for your Savior.







Response

I went before you in a pillar of cloud,
and you have led me to the judgment hall of Pilate.
I scourged your enemies and brought you to a land of freedom,
but you have scourged, mocked, and beaten me.
I gave you the water of salvation from the rock,
but you have given me gall and left me to thirst,
and you have prepared a cross for your Savior.





Response

I gave you a royal scepter,
and bestowed the keys of the kingdom,
but you have given me a crown of thorns.
I raised you on high with great power,
but you have prepared a cross for your Savior.



Response

My peace I gave, which the world cannot give,
and washed your feet as a sign of my love,
but you draw the sword to strike in my name
and seek high places in my kingdom.
I offered you my body and blood,
but you scatter and deny and abandon me,
and you have prepared a cross for your Savior.





Response

I sent the Spirit of truth to guide you,
and you close your hearts to the Counselor.
I pray that all may be one in the Father and me,
but you continue to quarrel and divide.
I call you to go and bring forth fruit,
but you cast lots for my clothing,
and you have prepared a cross for your Savior.





Response

I grafted you into the tree of my chosen Israel,
and you turned on them with persecution and mass murder.
I made you joint heirs with them of my covenants,
but you made them scapegoats for your own guilt,
and you have prepared a cross for your Savior.



Response

I came to you as the least of your brothers and sisters;
I was hungry and you gave me no food,
I was thirsty and you gave me no drink,
I was a stranger and you did not welcome me,
naked and you did not clothe me,
sick and in prison and you did not visit me,
and you have prepared a cross for your Savior.





Response