It hasn’t been a great lead-in to Easter, between minor illnesses in the family and some big transitions this week.
And so it was good finally to get to a service this morning. A simple spare service – just two hymns, and some readings, prayers, and seven settings of the Kyrie, the ancient prayer and hymn of the church “Lord, have mercy. Christ have mercy”. And as the service went on, the candles were progressively extinguished, before we left the church in silence. There is plenty of opportunity for sermons, and explications of the faith, but sometimes it is good just to sit or kneel quietly, and let the magnitude of Christ’s sacrifice, and our need for it – our sin – soak into us afresh. As we sang this morning, in the words of the American folk hymn “sometimes it causes me to tremble, tremble, tremble”.
By far my favourite Good Friday/passion hymn is “O sacred head, sore wounded” (the words are here, with rather more verses than in most hymn books). I don’t recall being aware of it until I was a late teenager – raised in a minister’s family, I’m guessing it wasn’t one of my father’s favourites – but since first encountering it, I’m always brought up short by the words, the prayer, in the last two lines of this verse.
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.
As I age, I pray that will always be my first desire.