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Favourite things, poems and songs for Good Friday

The biblical tradition cannot be easily understood looking from the top-down as most of the scriptures were written by oppressed peoples throughout history…
Award-winning songwriter, Steve Bell, shares some poems and songs for Good Friday, and a few valued personal items.

The photo above shows a few of my favourite things. Especially on this day… Good Friday.

The miniature urn contains ashes of my father who died last summer and whose grounding wisdom and fortifying faith are deeply and sorrowfully missed, especially during this season of disorientation and anxiety.

“The tears of things”

The tiny silver bowl is a lacrymatory. It was a gift to me from my daughter-in-law Diana Pops who is a brilliant fine-art jeweler. She made it and gave it to me the day after my father’s death. A close look (see photo below) reveals that the bowl has caught tiny teardrops and fallen leaves. Along with the gift, I learned that a lachrymatory is a bowl or vial, often found in ancient tombs, which are thought to have been placed there to catch the Lacrimae rerum, which is the Latin phrase for ‘the tears of things.”

This week, I have found the gospel story of Jesus weeping over the city of Jerusalem to be particularly moving (Luke 19:41). In his book, A Word in the Wilderness, Malcolm Guite writes that “to know that you have been wept for is to know that you have been loved.”

All that is mine is yours…

The third item is a crucifix that I have had for many years. I love the open arms of Christ suggesting that somehow, in the incarnation, and in Jesus’ radical solidarity with suffering humanity that God is more than kindly disposed to our bewildering estate. God shares God’s own divine communion with us… as if to say “Look! All that is mine is yours…” But the open arms of generosity are also the open arms of welcome and embrace, “and I have made a space for you in me.” Divine communion always entails the giving of the self for the other and the receiving of the other into the self. Love bids and empowers us to go and do the same. (See: Miroslav Volf, Exclusion and Embrace, p.130)

When I was a kid, I often thought that Good Friday was a rather odd name for a day commemorating the public execution of an innocent man. But the image of God hanging between two criminals suggests that God is first with us in our bleakest, most desolate state before God is for us as saviour and redeemer.

Good Friday indeed. Deep is Love.

God knows the “tears of things.”

Below are a few resources for reflection if you happen to be looking for some.

First, I want to point you to Malcolm Guite’s sonnets corresponding to the Twelve Stations of the Cross. If you have a bit of time for quiet reflection, these will serve you very well. You can read, or listen to Malcolm recite them HERE…

And below are a couple of single songs followed by a short online mini-concert.

Gone is the Light is a song I recorded for my Devotion album but it was written by my friend Gord Johnson who’s songs you’ll find throughout my albums.

Were You There?

Were You There is an American spiritual likely composed by enslaved African-Americans in the 19th century. It has been pointed out that the biblical tradition cannot be easily understood looking from the top-down as most of the scriptures were written by oppressed peoples throughout history be they freshly emancipated slaves of the Egyptian Pharaohs, Jewish exiles under the Babylonian Empire, or Palestinian Jews under the hard-press of Imperial Rome.

The haunting questions posed by this song could have only come from those who have indeed “been there.” I recorded this version with the help of Murray Pulver earlier on the request of my pastor to use in today’s online service.

Lastly, you’ll find below a 30-minute concert I recorded yesterday for Holy Week. Songs include: Lenten Lands, Love is Our Way, Descent and This is Love.

Feel free to use and share these as you wish:

words and music by Gord Johnson
recording by Steve Bell (produced by Roy Salmond)

Into the darkness we must go
Gone, gone is the light
Into the darkness we must go
Gone, gone is the light

Jesus, remember me
When you come into your kingdom
Jesus, remember me
When your kingdom comes

Father, forgive them
They know not what they do
Father, forgive them
They know not what they do

recording by Steve Bell

Were you there when they crucified my Lord
Were you there when they crucified my Lord
Oh… sometimes it causes me to tremble, tremble, tremble
Were you there when they crucified my Lord

Were you there when they laid him in the tomb…

Were you there when he rose up from the grave…

Peace friends,



  1. Colleen Peters

    These words of Malcolm’s in Descent, ‘weak to be with us when we fall and strong to save’, struck a strong chord in my heart seven years ago while I wrote of the meandering miracle I saw my life to be, and the truth in those words reverberated in my heart today when I heard you sing them Steve. Thank you for the reminder of that truth today.

  2. Marlene Buffie

    In this season of Lent we have waited and longed for resurrection, release from the restrictions imposed upon us by a deadly virus.

    I came upon your concert on Twitter, and am deeply moved by your words and music

    Thank you!
    May God continue to bless you and your work as you bless your listeners.

  3. Colleen Peters

    speaking to the death of your father Steve; Near the end of his life, Dwight L. Moody said,”One day soon you will hear that I am dead. Do not believe it. I will then be alive as never before.”

  4. Julie Wilson Docherty

    Heartfelt thanks to you, Steve, and to your team, for creating these inspiring and uplifting mini concerts, at a time in our world when we are desperately in need of both. The one on Thursday, relating to Good Friday, touched my heart and soul deeply. Your songs, message and the sharing of your three special things. The Power of Three, once again showing us the divine connection between Love, Death and Sorrow all leading us to eternal Life. God’s Peace and Blessings to you and yours. Happy Easter … “because the Lord has risen so can we.”

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