Watch a Video of the Service
The best way to experience the service at your own pace is to watch a video of the readings and music all together. The video is 35 minutes long and available in 3 sizes – large (584 MB), medium (369 MB), and small (87 MB).
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Download the Readings
You can view the readings and listen to the music on this page or you can download a PDF of the readings and listen by clicking the links in the PDF. Download the document here: “Good Friday Readings from Mark and Excerpts from the Messiah” (PDF).
How to Use This Page
This page has readings from the Gospel of Mark and videos of a performance of the Messiah. The idea is that you would read the readings and then watch the videos when you come to them. The videos should jump to the relevant starting point and also should end at the relevant ending point. In case they don’t work properly on your browser, you can also open this video in a new tab and go to the times listed by each song: “Handel MESSIAH King’s College, Cambridge Choir – Stephen Cleobury 1993”.
See the bottom of the page for information about the Messiah and the particular recording.
Messiah – Symphony
(start at 0:00, end at 3:00)
Readings and Musical Selections
Isaiah 53:3-8 (NKJV)
3 He is despised and rejected by men,
A Man of sorrows and acquainted with grief.
And we hid, as it were, our faces from Him;
He was despised, and we did not esteem Him.
4 Surely He has borne our griefs
And carried our sorrows;
Yet we esteemed Him stricken,
Smitten by God, and afflicted.
5 But He was wounded for our transgressions,
He was bruised for our iniquities;
The chastisement for our peace was upon Him,
And by His stripes we are healed.
6 All we like sheep have gone astray;
We have turned, every one, to his own way;
And Jehovah has laid on Him the iniquity of us all.
7 He was oppressed and He was afflicted,
Yet He opened not His mouth;
He was led as a lamb to the slaughter,
And as a sheep before its shearers is silent,
So He opened not His mouth.
8 He was taken from prison and from judgment,
And who will declare His generation?
For He was cut off from the land of the living;
For the transgressions of My people He was stricken.
Secrets of Heaven §9937:1-3, 5-6
It is well known in the Church that the Lord is said to have borne sins on behalf of the human race, yet there is no knowledge of what to understand by bearing iniquities and sins. Some think it means that He took the sins of the human race onto Himself and allowed Himself to be condemned even to death on a cross, and that… the condemnation for sins was cast onto Him, [and so] people in the world have been made free from condemnation. ….
But no such ideas should be understood by “bearing iniquity”, for every individual person’s deeds await him after death, when he is judged according to the essential nature of those deeds either to life or to death. …. The Lord bears iniquities when He fights on behalf of a person against the hells; for no one is able by himself to fight against them. Rather the Lord alone does so, indeed constantly for every individual person….
When He was in the world the Lord fought against all the hells and completely subdued them, as a result of which also He became Righteousness. By doing that He has rescued from damnation those who receive Divine Good and Truth from Him. If the Lord had not done so no person could have been saved, for the hells are unceasingly present with a person, exercising control over him to the extent that the Lord does not shift them away. And He shifts them away to the extent that the person refrains from evils. …. The One therefore who alone fights for a person against the hells… is said to bear sins; for He bears that burden, alone. ….
While in the world the Lord overcame the hells by means of conflicts brought about by temptations, and thereby set all things in order….
From all this, once it is understood, people may then know what all those things mean that are stated regarding the Lord in Isaiah chapter 53, a chapter dealing from beginning to end with the state of temptations He underwent, thus with the state He was passing through when He was engaged in conflict with the hells.
“Carrying griefs, sorrows, and iniquities”, and “being pierced and bruised because of them” self-evidently means the state of temptations; for at that time there are experiences involving distress of mind, anguish, and despair, which cause the pain described in those verses. The hells bring such feelings about; for in temptations they assault the actual love of the one against whom they fight. Everyone’s love is the inmost core of his life. The Lord’s love was that of saving the human race…. This too is so described in Isaiah, where the Lord’s conflicts are the subject, in the following words,
He said, “Surely they are My people.…” Therefore He became their Saviour. In all their affliction He suffered affliction;… because of His love and His compassion He redeemed them, and took them and carried them all the days of eternity. (Isaiah 63:8-9)
Mark 14:27-35 (NKJV)
27 Then Jesus said to them, “All of you will be made to stumble because of Me this night, for it is written:
‘I will strike the Shepherd, And the sheep will be scattered.’
28 “But after I have been raised, I will go before you to Galilee.”
29 Peter said to Him, “Even if all are made to stumble, yet I will not be.”
30 Jesus said to him, “Assuredly, I say to you that today, even this night, before the rooster crows twice, you will deny Me three times.”
31 But he spoke more vehemently, “If I have to die with You, I will not deny You!”
And they all said likewise.
32 Then they came to a place which was named Gethsemane; and He said to His disciples, “Sit here while I pray.” 33 And He took Peter, James, and John with Him, and He began to be troubled and deeply distressed. 34 Then He said to them, “My soul is exceedingly sorrowful, even to death. Stay here and watch.”
35 He went a little farther, and fell on the ground, and prayed that if it were possible, the hour might pass from Him. 36 And He said, “Abba, Father, all things are possible for You. Take this cup away from Me; nevertheless, not what I will, but what You will.”
Messiah – Arioso: Behold and see
(start at 1:17:35, end at 1:18:57)
Behold, and see if there be any sorrow like unto His sorrow. (Lamentations 1:12)
Mark 14:37-51 (NKJV)
37 Then He came and found them sleeping, and said to Peter, “Simon, are you sleeping? Could you not watch one hour? 38 Watch and pray, lest you enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.”
39 Again He went away and prayed, and spoke the same words. 40 And when He returned, He found them asleep again, for their eyes were heavy; and they did not know what to answer Him.
41 Then He came the third time and said to them, “Are you still sleeping and resting? It is enough! The hour has come; behold, the Son of Man is being betrayed into the hands of sinners. 42 Rise, let us be going. See, My betrayer is at hand.”
43 And immediately, while He was still speaking, Judas, one of the twelve, with a great multitude with swords and clubs, came from the chief priests and the scribes and the elders. 44 Now His betrayer had given them a signal, saying, “Whomever I kiss, He is the One; seize Him and lead Him away safely.”
45 As soon as he had come, immediately he went up to Him and said to Him, “Rabbi, Rabbi!” and kissed Him.
46 Then they laid their hands on Him and took Him. 47 And one of those who stood by drew his sword and struck the servant of the high priest, and cut off his ear.
48 Then Jesus answered and said to them, “Have you come out, as against a robber, with swords and clubs to take Me? 49 I was daily with you in the temple teaching, and you did not seize Me. But the Scriptures must be fulfilled.”
50 Then they all forsook Him and fled.
51 Now a certain young man followed Him, having a linen cloth thrown around his naked body. And the young men laid hold of him, 52 and he left the linen cloth and fled from them naked.
Messiah – Chorus: All we like sheep have gone astray
(start at 1:08:51, end at 1:12:31)
All we like sheep have gone astray;
we have turned every one to his own way;
and the Lord hath laid on Him the iniquity of us all. (Isaiah 53:6)
Mark 14:53-72 (NKJV)
53 And they led Jesus away to the high priest; and with him were assembled all the chief priests, the elders, and the scribes. 54 But Peter followed Him at a distance, right into the courtyard of the high priest. And he sat with the servants and warmed himself at the fire.
55 Now the chief priests and all the council sought testimony against Jesus to put Him to death, but found none. 56 For many bore false witness against Him, but their testimonies did not agree.
57 Then some rose up and bore false witness against Him, saying, 58 “We heard Him say, ‘I will destroy this temple made with hands, and within three days I will build another made without hands.’” 59 But not even then did their testimony agree.
60 And the high priest stood up in the midst and asked Jesus, saying, “Do You answer nothing? What is it these men testify against You?” 61 But He kept silent and answered nothing.
Again the high priest asked Him, saying to Him, “Are You the Christ, the Son of the Blessed?”
62 Jesus said, “I am. And you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Power, and coming with the clouds of heaven.”
63 Then the high priest tore his clothes and said, “What further need do we have of witnesses? 64 You have heard the blasphemy! What do you think?”
And they all condemned Him to be deserving of death.
65 Then some began to spit on Him, and to blindfold Him, and to beat Him, and to say to Him, “Prophesy!” And the officers struck Him with the palms of their hands.
66 Now as Peter was below in the courtyard, one of the servant girls of the high priest came. 67 And when she saw Peter warming himself, she looked at him and said, “You also were with Jesus of Nazareth.”
68 But he denied it, saying, “I neither know nor understand what you are saying.” And he went out on the porch, and a rooster crowed.
69 And the servant girl saw him again, and began to say to those who stood by, “This is one of them.” 70 But he denied it again.
And a little later those who stood by said to Peter again, “Surely you are one of them; for you are a Galilean, and your speech shows it.”
71 Then he began to curse and swear, “I do not know this Man of whom you speak!”
72 A second time the rooster crowed. Then Peter called to mind the word that Jesus had said to him, “Before the rooster crows twice, you will deny Me three times.” And when he thought about it, he wept.
Mark 15:1-15 (NKJV)
1 Immediately, in the morning, the chief priests held a consultation with the elders and scribes and the whole council; and they bound Jesus, led Him away, and delivered Him to Pilate. 2 Then Pilate asked Him, “Are You the King of the Jews?”
He answered and said to him, “It is as you say.”
3 And the chief priests accused Him of many things, but He answered nothing. 4 Then Pilate asked Him again, saying, “Do You answer nothing? See how many things they testify against You!” 5 But Jesus still answered nothing, so that Pilate marveled.
6 Now at the feast he was accustomed to releasing one prisoner to them, whomever they requested. 7 And there was one named Barabbas, who was chained with his fellow rebels; they had committed murder in the rebellion. 8 Then the multitude, crying aloud, began to ask him to do just as he had always done for them. 9 But Pilate answered them, saying, “Do you want me to release to you the King of the Jews?” 10 For he knew that the chief priests had handed Him over because of envy.
11 But the chief priests stirred up the crowd, so that he should rather release Barabbas to them. 12 Pilate answered and said to them again, “What then do you want me to do with Him whom you call the King of the Jews?”
13 So they cried out again, “Crucify Him!”
14 Then Pilate said to them, “Why, what evil has He done?”
But they cried out all the more, “Crucify Him!”
15 So Pilate, wanting to gratify the crowd, released Barabbas to them; and he delivered Jesus, after he had scourged Him, to be crucified.
Messiah – Chorus: Surely He hath borne our griefs & Chorus: And with His stripes we are healed
(start at 1:05:22, end at 1:08:51)
Surely He hath borne our griefs,
and carried our sorrows;
He was wounded for our transgressions;
He was bruised for our iniquities;
the chastisement of our peace was upon Him;
and with his stripes we are healed (Isaiah 53:4-5)
Mark 15:16-32 (NKJV)
16 Then the soldiers led Him away into the hall called Praetorium, and they called together the whole garrison. 17 And they clothed Him with purple; and they twisted a crown of thorns, put it on His head, 18 and began to salute Him, “Hail, King of the Jews!” 19 Then they struck Him on the head with a reed and spat on Him; and bowing the knee, they worshiped Him. 20 And when they had mocked Him, they took the purple off Him, put His own clothes on Him, and led Him out to crucify Him.
21 Then they compelled a certain man, Simon a Cyrenian, the father of Alexander and Rufus, as he was coming out of the country and passing by, to bear His cross. 22 And they brought Him to the place Golgotha, which is translated, Place of a Skull. 23 Then they gave Him wine mingled with myrrh to drink, but He did not take it. 24 And when they crucified Him, they divided His garments, casting lots for them to determine what every man should take.
25 Now it was the third hour, and they crucified Him. 26 And the inscription of His accusation was written above:
THE KING OF THE JEWS.
27 With Him they also crucified two robbers, one on His right and the other on His left. 28 So the Scripture was fulfilled which says, “And He was numbered with the transgressors.”
29 And those who passed by blasphemed Him, wagging their heads and saying, “Aha! You who destroy the temple and build it in three days, 30 save Yourself, and come down from the cross!”
31 Likewise the chief priests also, mocking among themselves with the scribes, said, “He saved others; Himself He cannot save. 32 Let the Christ, the King of Israel, descend now from the cross, that we may see and believe.”
Even those who were crucified with Him reviled Him.
Messiah – Accompagnato: All they that see Him & Chorus: He trusted in God
(start at 1:12:43, end at 1:15:42)
All they that see Him, laugh Him to scorn,
they shoot out theirs lips, and shake their heads, saying:
“He trusted in God that He would deliver Him;
let Him deliver Him, if He delight in Him.” (Psalm 22:7-8)
Mark 15:33-47 (NKJV)
33 Now when the sixth hour had come, there was darkness over the whole land until the ninth hour. 34 And at the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, “Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?” which is translated, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?”
35 Some of those who stood by, when they heard that, said, “Look, He is calling for Elijah!” 36 Then someone ran and filled a sponge full of sour wine, put it on a reed, and offered it to Him to drink, saying, “Let Him alone; let us see if Elijah will come to take Him down.”
37 And Jesus cried out with a loud voice, and breathed His last.
38 Then the veil of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. 39 So when the centurion, who stood opposite Him, saw that He cried out like this and breathed His last, he said, “Truly this Man was the Son of God!”
40 There were also women looking on from afar, among whom were Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James the Less and of Joses, and Salome, 41 who also followed Him and ministered to Him when He was in Galilee, and many other women who came up with Him to Jerusalem.
42 Now when evening had come, because it was the Preparation Day, that is, the day before the Sabbath, 43 Joseph of Arimathea, a prominent council member, who was himself waiting for the kingdom of God, coming and taking courage, went in to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus. 44 Pilate marveled that He was already dead; and summoning the centurion, he asked him if He had been dead for some time. 45 So when he found out from the centurion, he granted the body to Joseph. 46 Then he bought fine linen, took Him down, and wrapped Him in the linen. And he laid Him in a tomb which had been hewn out of the rock, and rolled a stone against the door of the tomb. 47 And Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of Joses observed where He was laid.
Messiah – Accompagnato: He was cut off & Messiah – Aria: But Thou didst not leave
(start at 1:18:58, end at 1:21:32)
…He was cut off out of the land of the living:
for the transgression of my people was He stricken. (Isaiah 53:8)
But Thou didst not leave His soul in hell,
Nor didst Thou suffer Thy Holy One to see corruption. (Psalm 16:10)
Notes About Handel’s Messiah and the Recording
George Frideric Handel composed Messiah in 1741, using English text from the Bible compiled by librettist Charles Jennens. Handel composed the work “in an astounding interlude, somewhere between three and four weeks in August and September 1741” (“The Glorious History…”) and “and continued to work on it after its initial performance, finally arriving at the version we know today in 1754” (“Handel – Messiah”).
The work is in three parts. Part I begins with prophecies of the Messiah’s coming and then tells the story of Jesus’ birth. Part II covers Jesus’ arrest, crucifixion, resurrection, and ascension. Part III explores Jesus’ victory over sin and death, the day of judgment, and ends with text from Revelation about the Lamb receiving blessing, honour, glory, and power.
Although now most often performed at Christmas-time, Handel’s Messiah was originally written to be performed at Easter and was first performed in Dublin at Easter-time in 1742. Over time it gradually grew in popularity until it is now “one of the best-known and most frequently performed choral works in Western music” (“Handel (Messiah)”).
- “The Glorious History of Handel’s Messiah” by Jonathan Kandell. Smithsonian Magazine.
- “Handel – Messiah” Classic FM
- “Messiah (Handel)” – Wikipedia
The recording we are listening to was performed by the Choir of King’s College, Cambridge and the Brandenburg Consort, with Stephen Cleobury conducting. The choir is all male, with the soprano part being sung by boy sopranos and the alto part by countertenors. The soloists were Lynne Dawson (soprano), Hilary Summers (alto), John Mark Ainsley (tenor), and Alastair Miles (bass). This performance was recorded by Decca and released in 1994.