Good Friday Gospel & Blues Service

In 2008, The Presbyterian Church of Lawrenceville decided to do something different with their Good Friday Services. The day’s all about the blues—all about wailing and wallowing and considering the weight of what has been done. A 30 minute lunchtime service simply wasn’t working. So we decided to invite local musicians and members of the community to come enact the blues. How can we sing on Sunday, asked our pastor, if we haven’t wept on Friday. 

Well, we wept. And the service grew from fifty folks in 2008 to well over 200 in 2012. I am immensely proud of the service in general, proud in particular of this year’s service, which featured a bluegrass trio (okay, I was a part of it!), a down-home-Chicago-blues band and a jazz trio. The service was structured around a series of original stories (adapted from the gospel of John) told by the Rev. Joanne Epply-Schmidt of the Episcopal Diocese of New Jersey. We featured songs from Miles Davis, Duke Ellington,  Leonard Cohen and New York Hymns (whose excellent “Songs for Lent” I wholeheartedly endorse).

I developed the structure of the service and wrote the exposition of the music. Still, every movement, every moment struck me and shocked me and forced me to confront the horrors of that good day. It was a good thing, a terrible thing.

I hope the liturgy may be edifying .To view it, click here.


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