Gleanings from the Collects: Good Friday

Almighty God, we beseech you graciously to behold this your family, for whom our Lord Jesus Christ was willing to be betrayed and given into the hands of sinners, and to suffer death upon the Cross; who now lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

This collect appointed for Good Friday has a rich liturgical history. It can be found in the Gallican Missale Gothicum[1]of the 7thCentury, the Gregorian Sacramentary[2]of the 10thCentury and in the Sarum Missal[3]of the 11thCentury. 

The starkness of this collect perfectly matches the day. We are not asking God for mercy or pardon or strength because this day is not about us; it is for us but it is not about us. Our focus is our Lord Jesus Christ who “was willing to be betrayed and given into the hands of sinners, and to suffer death on the cross.” Therefore we stand with Mary and John at the foot of the cross knowing that is was our sins that placed Him there. It is a day of grief and gratitude.

But this collect for Good Friday also points us to Easter Sunday. The Prince of Glory who died for us “now lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.” Death has been defeated!

While it is easy to view the words “for ever and ever” as a prayer tag line we must not miss their importance. Among other things these words declare that Jesus’ reign will never end. Our prayers for His kingdom to come on earth as it is in heaven will be answered, and our place in His kingdom as heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ[4]is secured. So on this most solemn of days we are reminded that we have a future that is beyond anything that we can either hope or imagine.[5]We honor Good Friday but “for ever and ever” tells us that we are an Easter people.


[1]The Gallic Rite was a Christian liturgy of the Western Church that dates from before the 5thCentury. A form of it was used in Ireland mixed with Celtic customs

[2]A book of prayers used by the Celebrant that is attributed to Pope Gregory

[3]A book containing the liturgy for Salisbury Cathedral

[4]Romans 8:17

[5]I Corinthians 2:9

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