Good Friday Meditation



Archbishop John Sentamu offers a personal meditation upon the crucifixion of Christ through the sounds, stories and situations he finds as he walks around the historic city of York, on this the most solemn day of the Christian year. As well as the people he encounters, prayer, and readings from the passion narrative with stunning music recorded by the Choir of York Minster, all help to tell the story.

His focus is to see the events of that day through the power of the mob, both then and now. Throughout Jesus' final hours, crowds play a significant role in the story. A crowd is led by Judas to the Garden of Gethsemane to arrest his friend. Hours later, given the opportunity to release Jesus, a crowd instead bays for his blood. And, as Jesus journeys through the streets with his cross, the Roman guard is there to hold the people back as emotions soar.

An angry crowd needs a victim, one who is different, somehow deficient or offensive, untouchable. Such situations resonate with the victimised and marginalised around the world today, including some whom the Archbishop himself has sought to defend here in the UK, and in parts of Africa.

Crowds have always had the power to draw bystanders into a maelstrom of destructive behaviour. As he travels around York, Archbishop Sentamu explores the story of Clifford's Tower which, in 1190, was the scene of one of the medieval period's most notorious pogroms in the UK when 150 Jews were massacred.

Producer: Simon Vivian.


To lay down your life for others; we're told there is no greater love than this, and that's the subject of the Good Friday Meditation. 350 years ago, when the Plague tore through the community of Eyam in Derbyshire, the villagers' first instinct was to flee - but their agreement with their local clergy's brave decision that all should stay - keeping the plague within the village - probably saved thousands of lives throughout the North of England...

Just last year, self-imposed isolation was also the choice of British doctor, Dr Nathalie MacDermott. She was unsure whether she was incubating the deadly Ebola virus already contracted by two close medical colleagues in Liberia. Emerging from a lonely confinement, at least safe in the knowledge that she did not have the virus - this time - she returned to Liberia for a third tour of duty, struggling to bring care and comfort to communities that have lost thousands to this modern-day plague. Guided by the present Rector of Eyam, the Revd Mike Gilbert, she hears heart-rending stories of this historic sacrifice at locations around the village; but also how genetic research on descendants of Eyam's plague survivors is bringing hope to fight both plague and HIV in the world today. With music and readings illustrating the timeless story of Good Friday, presenter Dr Nathalie McDermott shares her own Christian perspective of why she, too, is still prepared to risk her life for strangers. Reader: Robert Lindsay. Producer: Rowan Morton-Gledhill.


As believers everywhere mark the most solemn moment of the Christian year, and in the 400th anniversary year of Shakespeare's death, Canon Mark Oakley meets Shakespearean actor David Bradley, who has played roles and characters the bard has based on The Good, the Bad and the Redeemed. These 'everyman' types of humanity are to be found in the Passion narrative, either on - or at the foot of - Golgotha's three Crosses. At the Shakespeare Hospice in Stratford-upon-Avon, a place close to David's and many RSC actors' hearts, we meet people facing their own deaths - and those who love and care for them. Informed by an understanding of 'what a piece of work' is a man or woman, how we contemplate mortality and eternity is common to us all - and it's something Shakespeare himself understood deeply and intimately within his characters and in his own family. With music reflecting the story of the Passion which is told in the language of the Geneva Bible, the translation to which Shakespeare's own language owed so much; this will be a Good Friday Meditation to remember. Producer: Rowan Morton-Gledhill.