wordsout by godfrey rust
words from the cross

Painting, Grief by Valery Milovic

Order for words from the cross

A meditation for Good Friday using
seven original poems by Godfrey Rust. Read the poems here.

The original event in which the poems were used in 2004 lasted an hour and had seven sections (one for each sentence), as follows:

1. A bible reading which includes the sentence

2. A series of images shown on screen in silence

3. A poem

4. A piece of music

5. A fragment of a psalm for audience/congregation response

The length of the meditation depends on the music chosen and the length of silence. A short talk may be included for each sentence to expand it into a traditional three-hour Good Friday vigil.

The readings, poems, music and responses below were used in St Johns' Church, Ealing on Good Friday 2011. Appropriate images and the congregation's Responses were projected on an overhead screen. The readings are from the New International Version of the Bible, modified slightly where necessary so that each stands alone in the structure of the meditation.

Music as people arriveBarber Adagio for strings (7:05)

Welcome and opening prayer

First sentence
Reading (from Matthew 27 27-37 and Luke 23 33-34) 
Then the governor's soldiers took Jesus into the Praetorium and gathered the whole company of soldiers around him.  They stripped him and put a scarlet robe on him, and then twisted together a crown of thorns and set it on his head. They put a staff in his right hand and knelt in front of him and mocked him. "Hail, king of the Jews!" they said. They spat on him, and took the staff and struck him on the head again and again. After they had mocked him, they took off the robe and put his own clothes on him. Then they led him away to crucify him. As they were going out, they met a man from Cyrene, named Simon, and they forced him to carry the cross. They came to a place called Golgotha (which means The Place of the Skull). There they offered Jesus wine to drink, mixed with gall; but after tasting it, he refused to drink it. When they had crucified him, they divided up his clothes by casting lots. Above his head they placed the written charge against him: THIS IS JESUS, THE KING OF THE JEWS. Two criminals were crucified with him, one on his right and one on his left. Jesus said, "Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing."

Silence and images

Poem accomplices

Music Rentaro Taki: Kojo No Tsuki (moon over the ruined castle) (3:40)

Response (from Psalm 51)
Have mercy on me O God
according to your unfailing love
wash away all my transgressions
and cleanse me from my sin 

Second sentence
Reading (from Luke 23 39-43)
One of the criminals who hung there hurled insults at him: "Aren't you the Christ? Save yourself and us!" But the other criminal rebuked him. "Don't you fear God," he said, "since you are under the same sentence? We are punished justly, for we are getting what our deeds deserve. But this man has done nothing wrong." Then he said, "Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom”.  Jesus answered him, "I tell you the truth, today you will be with me in paradise."

Silence and images

Poem thief

Music Cantaloube: la delaissado (4:35)

Response (from Psalm 65)    
O you who hear prayer    
To you all men will come.
When we were overwhelmed,
You forgave our sins. 

Third sentence
Reading (from John 19 25-27)

Near the cross of Jesus stood his mother, his mother's sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. When Jesus saw his mother there, and the disciple whom he loved standing nearby, he said to his mother, "Dear woman, here is your son," and to the disciple, "Son, here is your mother." From that time on, this disciple took her into his home.

Silence and images

Poem son

Music Taize: Stay with me watch and pray (3:56)

Response (from Psalm 23)
Though I walk through the valley
I will fear no evil
For you are with me
Your rod and staff they comfort me

Fourth sentence
Reading (from Matthew 27 45-46)
From the sixth hour until the ninth hour darkness came over all the land. About the ninth hour Jesus cried out in a loud voice, "Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?"--which means, "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?"

Silence and images

Poem wager


Response (from Psalm 22)
My God I cry out by day
but you do not answer
O Lord be not far off
come quickly to help me

Fifth sentence
Reading (from John 19 28)
Knowing that all was now completed, and so that the Scripture would be fulfilled, Jesus said, "I thirst."

Silence and images

Poem animal

Music Taize: ‘O Lord hear my prayer’ (3:34)

Response (from Psalm 22)
I am poured out like water
My heart is melted within me
My strength is dried up like a pot shard
You lay me in the dust of death 

Sixth sentence
Reading (John 19 29-30)
A jar of wine vinegar was there, so they soaked a sponge in it, put the sponge on a stalk of the hyssop plant, and lifted it to Jesus' lips.  When he had received the drink, Jesus said, "It is finished." 

Silence and images

Poem masterpiece

Music  Handel: Surely He hath borne our griefs (2:30)

Response (from Psalm 25)
Show me your ways O Lord
Teach me your paths
Guide me in your truth
For you are God my Saviour  

Seventh sentence
Reading (from Luke 23 45-49)
At the ninth hour the curtain of the temple was torn in two. Jesus called out with a loud voice, "Father, into your hands I commit my spirit." 

Silence and images

Poem legacy

Music Debussy: Claire de Lune (4:51)

Response (from Psalm 31)
I trust in you, O Lord.
You are my God.
You are my refuge.
Into your hands I commit my spirit.

Music and powerpoint The Power of the Cross by Chris Tomlin

Congregation sing When I survey the wondrous cross

Closing prayer

Blessing and dismissal

     Music as people leave Albinoni: ‘Misere Mei’