Recalling the Seven Last Words of Christ

Tenebrae, which is a Latin word meaning "shadows," has been observed in the church of Jesus Christ since the fourth century. On this Good Friday we remember the death of Jesus and recall his seven last words on the cross. As we remember the last words, we will extinguish the candles on the communion table, one by one. The gradual extinguishing of the candles will be accompanied by prayers, hymns, choral anthems, and readings from Scripture. Following the final hymn, the Christ candle will be removed briefly from the sanctuary to signify Christ's death. After the church bell tolls thirty-three times (to signal Jesus' thirty-three years), the Christ candle will be brought back as a foretaste of the resurrection that we will celebrate on Easter.

Good Friday Tenebrae Worship


Call to Worship: Isaiah 53:4-6

Surely he took up our infirmities and carried our sorrows,
yet we considered him stricken by God, smitten by him, and  afflicted.
But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities;
the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed.
All we, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way;
and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all.

Hymn: "I Greet Thee, Who My Sure Redeemer Art" (RL 366)

Litany of Remembrance

Let us remember Jesus:
who, though rich, became poor and dwelt among us,
who was mighty indeed, healing the sick and the troubled,
who, as a teacher to his disciples, was their companion and servant.
May we ever be grateful for Jesus the Christ and what he has done for us.
Let us remember Jesus
who prayed for the forgiveness of those who rejected him and for the perfecting of those who received him,
who loved all people, and prayed for them, even if they
denied and rejected him who hated sin because he knew the cost of pride and selfishness, of cruelty
and hatred, both to people and to God.
May we ever be grateful for Jesus the Christ and what he has done for us.
Let us remember Jesus, who humbled himself, obedient unto the cross. God has exalted him who has redeemed us from the bondage
of sin and given us new freedom.
May we ever be grateful for Jesus the Christ and what he has done and continues to do for us.

Anthem:"Thy Will Be Done"- Courtne


"Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing." Luke 23:34.

Reading: Psalm 51:1-14

Prayer on the First Word from the Cross

Almighty God, to whom your crucified Son prayed for the forgiveness of those who did not know what they were doing, grant that we, too, may be included in that prayer. Whether we sin out of ignorance or intention, be merciful to us and grant us  your acceptance and peace: in the name of Jesus Christ, our suffering Savior. Amen.

Hymn: "Ah, Holy Jesus, How Have You Offended?" (RL 285)


"Today you will be with me in Paradise" Luke 23:43

Reading: ]ohn 14:1-6

Prayer on the Second Word from the Cross

O Lord Jesus Christ, who promised to the repentant the joy of paradise, enable us by the Holy Spirit to repent and to receive your grace in this world and in the world to come. Amen.

Hymn: "Lord Jesus, Think on Me" (RL 248)


"Dear woman, here is your son." "Here is your mother." John 19:26-27

Reading: Mark 3:31-35

Prayer on the Third Word from the Cross

O Blessed Savior, who in your hours of greatest suffering expressed compassion for your mother and made arrangements for her care, grant that we who seek to follow your example may show our concern for the needs of others, reaching out to provide for those who suffer in our human family. Hear this our prayer for your mercy's sake. Amen.

Hymn: "Beneath the Cross of Jesus" (RL 310,311)


"My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?" Matthew 27:46

Reading: Psalm 22:1-11

Prayer on the Fourth Word from the Cross

Almighty God, who forsook your Son upon the cross showing the world your judgment upon human sin and guilt, grant us, upon hearing his cry, the grace to know and believe that we will never be forsaken, that he is present with us even to the end of the age: for the sake of Jesus Christ who bore our sins on the cross. Amen.

Anthem: "He Was Wounded" - Courtney


"I am thirsty." John 19:28

Reading: Isaiah 55:1-5

Prayer on the Fifth Word from the Cross

O blessed Savior, whose lips were dry and whose throat was parched, grant us the water of life that we who thirst after righteousness may find it quenched by your love and mercy, leading us to bring this same relief to others. Amen.

Hymn: "When I Survey the Wondrous Cross" (RL 292)


"It is finished." John 19:30

Reading: Luke 13:31-35

Prayer on the Sixth Word from the Cross

O Lord Jesus Christ, who finished the work that you were sent to do, enable us by your Holy Spirit to be faithful to our call. Grant us strength to bear our crosses and endure our sufferings, even unto death. Enable us to live and love so faithfully that we also become good news to the world, joining your witness. O Christ, in whose name we pray. Amen.

Hymn: "It Is Finished" (RL 309)


"Father, into your hands I commit my spirit." Luke 23:46

Reading: Luke 2:29-35

Prayer on the Seventh Word from the Cross

Father, into whose hands your Son Jesus Christ commended his spirit, grant that we too, following his example, may in all of life and at the moment of our death entrust our lives into your faithful hands of love. In the name of Jesus who gave his life for us all. Amen.

Hymn: "O Sacred Head, Now Wounded" (RL 300)


Tolling of the Bell


After a moment of meditation, the congregation is asked to leave in silence. Your offering may be left in the plates provided at the doors.

This service was prepared by Norman D. Palsma and used in a combined worship service by three Reformed Churches in New Jersey: the First Reformed Church of Lincoln Park, the Peauannock Reformed Church of Wayne, and the First Reformed Church of Pompton Plains. All hymn selections were taken from Rejoice in the Lord.

Reformed Worship 14 © December 1989, Calvin Institute of Christian Worship. Used by permission.