Good Friday News

A Litany Combining Psalm 22 with The New York Times

For this litany David Gambrell took Psalm 22, a traditional psalm for Good Friday, and interspersed it with quotes from The New York Times (Good Friday, March 21, 2008). Consider putting together a similar service using current news articles. You could use two readers—one for the psalm quotes (in italics) and one for the news quotes (roman)—or use many readers by having
different readers for each of the news quotes.


Psalm 22. For the director of music. To the tune of “The Doe of the Morning.” A psalm of David.

My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?

In shaky English, the woman expressed reluctance and questioned how she could be sure he would keep his word.

Why are you so far from saving me, so from the words of my groaning?

“I think people like to moan sometimes for the sake of it,” he said. “I don’t know why they bother, sometimes—nobody listens.”

My God, I cry out by day, but you do not answer. . .

“No one on the outside can understand the pain, sweat, and tears.”

. . . by night, but I find no rest.

“I sleep three hours a day,” he said, his eyes rimmed with red.

Yet you are enthroned as the Holy One, you are the praise of Israel.

Nuns chant it, scruffy young men with painted faces shout it. Indeed, half the town seems to have gone hoarse this week calling out his name. He remains revered.

In you our ancestors put their trust; they trusted, and you delivered them.

“You are fighting for our rights.”

They cried to you and were saved; in you they trusted and were not disappointed.

“We just kept pushing through.” “It’s an unbelievable feeling.”

But I am a worm, not a human being;

“I have no authority, no power to say ‘Shut up!’”

I am scorned by everyone, despised by the people.

When millions of noncitizens live in a kind of legal no-man’s land, increasingly fearful of seeking the law’s protection . . .

All who see me mock at me;

. . . what he described as a “ruthless, irrational, arrogant, foolish and self-righteous comment”

they hurl insults, shaking their heads.

At one point, she turned away from a reporter, pursed her lips and shook her head no.

“He trusts in the Lord,” they say, “let the Lord rescue him. Let him deliver him, since he delights in him.”

“They have all lived in a world of dreams,” he said.

Yet you brought me out of the womb; you made me feel secure on my mother’s breast.

“I want to move back there, I have so many childhood memories.”

From birth I was cast on you; from my mother’s womb you have been my God.

“I refuse to sacrifice my children.”

Do not be far from me, for trouble is near

“There was at least one kidnapping a day,” he said. The streets in some areas were lined with roadside bombs. . .

.. . and there is no one to help.

“All my friends are scattered.”

Many bulls surround me, strong bulls of Bashan encircle me;

Disintegrating marriages, financial problems . . . sick children and post-traumatic stress fall on their shoulders.

Roaring lions that tear their prey open their mouths wide against me.

“I want sex,” he said on the recording. “One or two times, that’s all. You’ll get your green card; you won’t have to see me anymore.”

I am poured out like water, and all my bones are out of joint.

“All of the things you’re familiar with, they’re gone,” she said of her former home. “It’s all rubble now.”

My heart has turned to wax; it has melted within me.

“Judging from the arid cycles of a thousand years ago, the droughts of a warmer future will become more prolonged and even harsher.”

My mouth is dried up like a potsherd,

Population density has placed enormous pressure on increasingly scarce water resources. Prepare for worse.

and my tongue sticks to the roof of my mouth.

A mother of three suffered from a rare form of cancer that burrowed through her sinuses and nasal cavities.

You lay me in the dust of death.

A court had refused her request to receive a lethal dose of barbiturates.

Dogs surround me,

Officials were taking the threats “seriously”

a pack of villains encircles me

The three mortar rounds, which killed a Yemeni guard and wounded 18 people, including 13 girls, appeared to have been fired from the roof of a nearby building.

they pierce my hands and my feet.

“We’re still dealing with this paralysis.”

All my bones are on display;

The size of the specimen’s hip joint, the shape and strength of the wide thigh bone, and other characteristics . . .

people stare and gloat over me.

“Even if you have loose clothing on, they are going to see things that we are not supposed to let them see.”

They divide my clothes among them

“I was mad when I found out they were tearing down my home.”

and cast lots for my garment.

“It’s a gamble. We don’t know how to take a terrible neighborhood and make it nice while keeping the same people here.”

But you, Lord, do not be far from me. You are my strength; come quickly to help me.

“I thought I had no choice that night,” he said. “I pray for everything.”

Deliver me from the sword, my precious life from the power of the dogs!

“I just know there is more to life than this war.”

Rescue me from the mouth of the lions;

China accused him of masterminding the uprising and called him “a devil with a human face.”

save me from the horns of the wild oxen.

“But it was a turning point because thenceforward there was nothing else I wanted to do.”

I will declare your name to my people; in the assembly I will praise you.

“Returning to the same place at the same time makes the friendship deeper,” she said. “The thought of it keeps me going.”

You who fear the Lord, praise him! All you offspring of Jacob, glorify him; all you descendants of Jacob, honor him! Revere him, all you descendants of Israel!

“One hundred times, a thousand times I have repeated this,” he told reporters Thursday. “It is my mantra.”

For he has not despised or scorned the suffering of the afflicted one;

A grim cheerless wasteland, with gray buildings and gray, disheveled residents. And not just routinely miserable, but deeply miserable, a “showpiece of quiet desperation.”

he has not hidden his face from him but has listened to his cry for help.

“I’m part marriage counselor, part drug-and-alcohol counselor, part suicide-prevention counselor. It’s an emotional roller coaster.”

From you comes the theme of my praise in the great assembly; before those who fear you I will fulfill my vows.

The complex rhythms and plethora of instruments make for a joyous concert, but one that serves as a serious reminder of the 2.4 million Ugandan children who have been orphaned by civil war, poverty, and AIDS.

The poor will eat and be satisfied;

In a historically arid region with uncertain food supplies, they successfully tapped their centuries of experience with irrigation, soil conservation, and water management.

those who seek the Lord will praise him—may your hearts live forever!

He knew that Evan’s heart was singing.

All the ends of the earth will remember and turn to the Lord,

“We are trying to find common ground.”

and all the families of the nations will bow down before him,

“For the first time in my adult life, I am proud of my country.”

for dominion belongs to the Lord, and he rules over the nations.

After a nine-month political crisis had prompted speculations that the country might split . . .

All the rich of the earth will feast and worship; all who go down to the dust will kneel before him—

Models of elaborate wooden synagogues and photographs of Jewish cemeteries with intricately carved gravestones . . .

those who cannot keep themselves alive.

“I promised my dad before he died that I was going to
fulfill my dream.”

Posterity will serve him;

“Good things sometimes take a long time.”

future generations will be told about the Lord.

“I am very much hopeful,” he said.

They will proclaim his righteousness, declaring to a people yet unborn:

If there is a heaven, I bet it’s a pretty cool place.

He has done it!

David Gambrell ( is associate for worship in the Office of Theology and Worship of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) and a candidate for a Ph.D. in liturgical studies at Evangelical Theological Seminary.

Reformed Worship 98 © December 2010, Calvin Institute of Christian Worship. Used by permission.