There is no Introit for this liturgy. Or, rather, we could say the Introit is the sound of silence. For those who understand this day, no words of introduction are needed; for those who don't, no words will suffice.
Lord, hear my prayer, and let my cry come unto you.
V. Do not turn your face away from me; in the day of my distress, lend me your ear.
V. On each day that I call upon you, please make haste to hear me.
V. For my days pass away like smoke, and my bones burn as if in a furnace.
V. I am smitten like grass, and my heart is withered; I have forgotten even to eat my bread.
V. O Lord, you will arise and have pity on Zion; for the time has come to have mercy on her.
Ps. 101:2-5, 14In this Tract there is an echo of Psalm 22 in these verses. The opening of that Psalm will be heard during the proclamation of the Passion according to St. John.
Christ became obedient for us unto death, even death on a Cross.
V. Therefore God has highly exalted him, and bestowed on him the name which is above every name.
Phil..2:8; V. 9The Gradual is the same as Palm (Passion) Sunday. Having been laid low, Christ is now exalted.
This is the wood of the cross, on which hung the Saviour of the world.
R. Come, let us worship.Thrice intoned as the Veneration of the Cross begins. How ironic the response (in Latin) is part of the refrain to the Christmas carol "O Come, All Ye Faithful". All throughout His life, as well as ours, the King of Kings and Lord of Lords demands our adoration.
R. We worship you, Lord, we venerate your cross, we praise your resurrection. Through the cross you brought joy to the world.
V. May God be gracious and bless us; and let his face shed its light upon us. R.This Antiphon is the proper response of the People of God for the salvific action of this day, as they pay individual homage to the Cross.
R1. My people, what have I done to you? How have I offended you? Answer me!
I led you out of Egypt, from slavery to freedom, but you led your Saviour to the cross.
R2. Holy is God! Holy and strong! Holy immortal One, have mercy on us!
For forty years I led you safely through the desert. I fed you with manna from heaven and brought you to a land of plenty; but you led your Saviour to the cross. R2.
What more could I have done for you? I planted you as my fairest vine, but you yielded only bitterness: when I was thirsty you gave me vinegar to drink, and you pierced your Savior with a lance. R2.
For your sake I scourged your captors and their firstborn sons, but you brought your scourges down on me. R1.
I led you from slavery to freedom and drowned your captors in the sea, but you handed me over to your high priests. R1.
I opened the sea before you, but you opened my side with a spear. R1.
I led you on your way in a pillar of cloud, but you led me to Pilate's court. R1.
I bore you up with manna in the desert, but you struck me down and scourged me. R1.
I gave you saving water from the rock, but you gave me gall and vinegar to drink. R1.
For you I struck down the kings of Canaan, but you struck my head with a reed. R1.
I gave you a royal sceptre, but you gave me a crown of thorns. R1.
I raised you to the height of majesty, but you have raised me high on a cross. R1.The Improperia. Starting with a verse from the prophet Micah (6:3), we heard the pleading first of the Father, then of the Son. Recall the First Reading and the Passion Narrative today when you ponder these words.
O faithful Cross, incomparable Tree, the noblest of all; no forest hath ere put forth the likes of thine own leaves, thy flowers, thy fruits;
* Gentle wood with a gentle nail, to support so gentle a burden!
1. Sing, O my tongue, of the battle, of the glorious struggle; and over the trophy of the Cross, proclaim the noble triumph; tell how the redeemer of the world won victory through his sacrifice.
2. The Creator looked on sadly as the first man, our forefather, was deceived, and as he fell into the snare of death, taking a bite of a lethal fruit; it was then that God chose this blessed piece of wood to destroy the other tree's curse.*
3. Such was the act called for by the economy of our salvation: to outwit the resourceful craftiness of the Traitor and to obtain our remedy from the very weapon with which our enemy struck.
4. And so, when the fullness of that blessed time had come, the Son, the Creator of the world, was sent from the throne of the Father, and having become flesh, he came forth from the womb of a Virgin.*
5. The infant cried as he was placed in the narrow manger; his Virgin Mother wrapped his body in swaddling cloths, encircling his hands, his feet and his legs with tight bands.
6. When more than thirty years had past, at the end of his earthly life, he willingly gave himself up to the Passion; it was for this that he was born. The Lamb was lifted up onto a cross, offered in sacrifice on wood.*
7. Behold the vinegar, the gall, the reed, the spittle, the nails and spear! His precious body is torn open, water and blood rush forth. This great and mighty river washes land, sea, stars - the entire world!
8. Bend thy branches, tallest of trees, relax thy hold on his tightly stretched body; soften up the hardness which nature hath given thee, and present to the body of the Heavenly King a more bearable support.*
9. Thou alone hast been worthy to carry the ransom of the world; mankind's ship had gone down beneath the waves, but thou openest the way to our port of rescue. For thou art anointed with the sacred blood which sprung forth from the body of the Lamb.
10. Equal and eternal glory to the Father and to the Son and to the Illustrious Paraclete, the Blessed Trinity whose divine grace redeems and conserves us always. Amen.*
(* indicates only this part of the refrain is sung.)This hymn is a fitting meditation on the life and death of Christ. Salvation history in a nutshell.
There is neither an Offertory or Communion antiphon today. As the Blessed Sacrament is brought from the Altar of Repose, we recall the final action of Holy Thursday. As we received the Body of Christ, we are reminded of what has happened the past 24 hours, both then and now.
What wonderous Love is this.