Today’s hymn from Sing Praise is “When you prayed beneath the trees” by Christopher Idle. This 20th century hymn comes with its own tune, but John played it to an older hymn tune by Orlando Gibbons that better fits the sombre mood.
The feel of the words is much like the better known American spiritual “Where you there when they crucified by Lord?”. They expand on the idea that Jesus suffered, not only in his own body, but for our sake and in our place. The repeated refrain of “it was for me, O Lord” emphasises this. The four verses refer to the agony in the garden of Gethsemane; his trial; the ascent of the hill under the cross (‘via dolorosa’); and finally the crucifixion itself.
This last, though, sees Jesus not as victim but as victor, another common understanding of what happened of Good Friday: “When you spoke with kingly power it was for me, O Lord, in that dread and destined hour you made me free, O Lord; earth and heaven heard you shout, death and hell were put to rout, for the grave could not hold out; you are for me, O Lord”.