Psalm 22, Good Friday 2020

My God, why have you forsaken me? (verse 1)

With this quotation by Jesus on the cross, Psalm 22 thus became etched into the Easter tradition. Other prophetic verses from this lament reinforced the moment:

  • They wag their heads saying: ‘You trusted in God; let God deliver you’ (7, 8)
  • They pierce my hands and feet (16)
  • They divide my garments among them; they cast lots for my clothing (18)

However, read on to the end. After 22 verses of lament, the tone shifts suddenly to more positive trust and praise. So this is also another song that resonates in the current world situation, its various perspectives on the experience of those who suffer, from whatever cause, serve to reassure and comfort despite the dark skies of Good Friday.

Some psalms, by virtue of empathetic phrase, grand theme, comforting word or fundamental truth, seem to have become great pillars of the Psalter. The choice is subjective, of course, but note those with many musical settings; 1, 22, 23, 51, 98 … and so on. Many such texts have attracted composers over the years.

This brief random list reveals that 22 and 23, appearing on their own so often and so powerfully in liturgical and personal use, sit quietly next to each other, their yin and yang complementary.

In a broadly similar way, Good Friday and Easter Sunday are quasi-contiguous and symbiotic.

Try reading 22 and 23 together.


Some Good Friday observances minimise musical content to respect the sombre observance. When music is included it is restrained.Together in Song‘s setting by Christopher Willcock (TiS 9; My God, why have you forsaken me?) fits well.

This song has beautifully graced the day at South Woden in years gone by. Many members will recall Lin Clayton’s fine tenor voice, with Helen Swan at the piano, presenting these haunting verses and their compelling tale in a captivating musical offering.

Here’s another beautiful and relevant offering suggested for us by Helen – thank you:

The next post will feature another musical offering on Psalm 22 itself.

6 thoughts on “Psalm 22, Good Friday 2020

  1. Thanks Brendan

    What a beautiful rendition of Finlandia, possibly the only anthem in this world that is better than the Welsh one. 😉

    I converted a midi file (.mid) of it into a karaoke style (.kar) a few years ago for the Belconnen Senior Singers and for the Southern Cross Singalong, I wish we could sing it like that.


  2. Beautiful Brendan- thank you- and Helen for the suggestion. I do remember Lin’s lovely voice.

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