Harrowing of Hell


Invitation to Worship

Come, let us worship God in Christ,

who was made obedient unto death.


O Holy One, + open my lips,

~and my mouth shall proclaim your praise.


Hymn for holy Saturday

Great silence reigns on earth this day! Great loneliness embraces all!

For death has had its ruthless way, And caught the Lord and Love of all.


But Jesus gone to darkest hell, Has entered on the Sabbath rest,

In which he, with his Abba still, Works mighty wonders for the blest.


His body’s vessel smashed apart, His life and love now flood the world

And penetrating to its heart, Among us all whirl up and swirl.


Thus in that darkness, Light shines out And all from Adam to the last,

Raise up their hands, in joy they shout, “Behold the Lord!  the First, the Last!”


The  bonds and gates of hell  give way, A great procession comes to sight.

Who leads them is himself the Way, Their Goal–Himself in God’s full light.


O may we, Lord, who yet must die, Who pray awaiting the great feast

Of your arising from the dead, Be joined with you in endless peace. Amen.

Text: St. Meinrad (1972); Tune: VEXILLA REGIS L.M.



Antiphon One

Though he was free from sin, our Love has been crucified;

The world is in mourning as for an only Son.

Psalm 63/64

Hear my troubles, O God.

Keep me safe from terror,

guard me from hostile scheming

and the rage of the violent.


Enemies sharpen their tongues

and aim bitter words like arrows

to ambush the innocent

with a sudden, brazen shot.


They review and polish their plans,

conceal their weapons and traps,

asking, “Who can see them?

They hide the evil which they plot.

How devious the human heart!


God shoots the arrow of justice;

instantly they are struck.

They are tripped by their own tongues;

and all who see this tremble.


The whole world stands in awe,

they tell of the  work God has done

they wonder about its meaning

while the just rejoice with thanksgiving;

Those who find refuge in God

Sing praise with honest hearts.


Though he was free from sin, our Love has been crucified;

The world is  in mourning as for an only Son.



Antiphon Two

O Death, I  will be your death;

O Sheol, I will be your destruction.

Canticle of Hezechiah    Isaiah 38: 10-14, 17-20

In the very prime of my life

I felt death reaching  for me,

calling me to the gates of Sheol,

cutting short my days.


I was  stunned to think

I will never again see God,

never again see a human face

while living here on this  earth. (R)


My life collapsed like a tent pulled down,

like cloth cut from a loom before it is finished.

Day and night I looked death in the face.


Shrill as a crane,

mournful as a dove.

I weep before the heavens:

“My world is collapsing:  Adonai, run to my rescue! (R)


My heart will live for you,

my spirit will live for you alone.

You will cure me and give me life,

restore me and make me live.


Give my spirit rest, Adonai,

bring me back from the pit of destruction.

Sheol does not praise you.

nor does death extol your name. 

Only those alive like me, can thank you,

and tell their children how faithful you are. 

O Death, I  will be your death;

O Sheol, I will be your destruction.

Antiphon Three

Destroy this temple and in three days, I will raise it up.

Psalm 150

Praise God in the holy place,

praise in the mighty heavens.

Praise God’s powerful deeds

praise the surpassing greatness.


O praise with sound of trumpet,

praise with lute and harp.

Praise with timbrel and dance,

praise with strings and pipes.


O praise with resounding cymbals,

praise with clashing of cymbals.

Let everything that lives and that breathes

give praise to Adonai!

Destroy this temple and in three days, I will raise it up.



reading ONE    paschal homily from the third century

Responsory One

Our Shepherd, the Font of Living Water, is gone; at whose passing the sun was darkened;

*For he has been taken, who took the first ones captive. Today our Savior has broken both the bars and gates of death.  V.  He destroyed the prisons of hell, and overthrew the power of the devil.  *For he has been taken, who took the first ones captive. Today our Savior has broken both the bars and gates of death.


READING TWo    Hosea 5:15-16

Responsory/Antiphon Two

Christ became obedient for us unto  death, even to death on a cross;

Therefore, God also has exalted him and given him the name that is above every name.



The women sitting at the tomb lamented,

weeping for our Love.

Canticle of Zachariah

Blessed + be Adonai, the God of Israel,

Who visits this people to set us free

Raising for us a sign of salvation

In the house and family of David.


God promised throughout past ages

In words of holy prophets

To save us from our enemies,

And from the control of our oppressors.


Adonai favored our ancestors

And remembered the sacred covenant.

The pledge to Abraham and Sarah

Is now renewed for us;


That freed from the grip of our foes

We might worship without fear

And be both just and holy

For the rest of our days.


And you, child, called “prophet of the Most High,”

Will go ahead to prepare the way,

By teaching this people of salvation

Through forgiveness of their sins.


For the loving compassion of the Holy One

As the Rising Sun will shine upon us

To illumine the darkness and dispel death’s shadow

To Guide our feet on the way of peace.

The women sitting at the tomb lamented,

weeping for our Love.



Intercessory Prayer

You were executed by those who realized the way of life you taught and lived would be the end of empire and religion as they knew it; ~ strengthen us to follow you in denouncing injustice and announcing your way of living and loving even when threatened by those in power.


As Jonah  was three days in the belly of the whale, you lay for three days in the womb of Mother Earth ~ may our celebration of Easter find us rising with you and all the new life which is born and reborn this Spring.


Like the grain of wheat, you were planted in the ground and brought forth a great harvest of life and grace; ~root us deeply and firmly in nature and grace so we can die to self-centeredness and share the fruit of our contemplation with others.


You kept the Sabbath rest and descended into the realm of death to release its captives;

~may all who are captive to addictions and sin follow you to freedom and fullness of life.


Prayer of Jesus

Our Father…



Gracious God of infinite Compassion, you sent Jesus as the Incarnation of your unselfish love.  His way of life frees us from sin and his way of dying destroys the power of death.  May our celebration of these Three Holy Days enable us to enter more deeply into the Mystery of his suffering, death, and burial,  so that we may more fully experience the new life and joy of his resurrection, both here on earth and in heaven where you live and love, One God, forever and ever.  Amen


May the God of Sabbath Rest + bless our waiting in silence for the Feast of the Resurrection  ~Amen.


Let us bless the world with peace.    ~And give thanks to God.