Thursday, April 21, 2011

The Heritage Anglican Network: Observing a Prayer Book Good Friday

“The title” of Good Friday, Charles Neil and J. M. Willoughby in The Tutorial Prayer Book informs us, “is peculiar to the Church of England. They go on to write, “There is a particular fitness in the English title, both positively, as recognizing the joyous emancipation of the believer through the finished work of the Cross, and negatively as a protest against the superstitious branding of all Fridays, and this one in particular as ‘unlucky,’ a superstition … traceable without much difficulty to the mistaken ideas which tended to fill the day with the external pomp of a funereal gloom.”

Neil and Willoughby makes this very important point:

Easter having been in very early times as a great day for public baptism, it is not surprising that the solemnity of the events immediately preceding Easter should be seized upon as an occasion for heart-searching preparations. Such commendable reverence has nothing in common with Medieval customs, e.g., Creeping to the Cross, The Mass of the Pre-Sanctified, Stripping of the Altars, Singing of the ‘Reproaches.’ Apart from the doctrinal errors associated with such practices, there is danger of obscuring the great lesson which alone justifies the observance of Good Friday, viz. that ‘with His stripes we are healed,’ not plunged into gloom. The hymnology of Reformed Christianity is not free from the same danger, not infrequently overstepping the bounds of reverential awe, and so tending to reproduce the blindness of those who wept for Christ when their own desperate condition alone called for tears!

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