Were You There Apr18


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Were You There

Good Friday is a day of introspection and reflection. This is particularly evident in the evening service many congregations hold on Good Friday. Often called the Tenebrae (from the Latin for “shadows”) Service, we often omit a sermon and instead read various portions of the passion, interspersed by prayers and hymns, turning down the lights after each reading until we are in almost complete darkness at the end of the service and depart in silence, filled with a sense of the sacrifice Jesus makes on our behalf and longing for the hope of Easter morning.

One of my favorite hymns sung at various times in Lent but especially at the Good Friday Tenebrae Service is the African American Spiritual, “Were You There.” And so for this Good Friday post, I thought I would simply put below two of my favorite renditions of this powerful hymn. The first is from the great Marion Williams and is an except from the film “Packin Up,” a documentary in about Williams by Searchlight Films. The second is billed as the Largest Male Voice Choir from the old Cardiff Arms Park in Wales in May of 1993. May they aid your Good Friday reflection on the sacrificial love and mercy of Jesus that we remember, witness to, and try to live out.


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