An Episcopal Dictionary of the Church

Reproaches, The

The reproaches are a traditional anthem based on OT prophetic passages (see Mi 6:3-4) and the Trisagion. It is sung at the Good Friday liturgy during the veneration of the cross. It is also called Improperia. It begins, “O my people, what have I done unto thee? or wherein have I wearied thee? Testify against me.” In this anthem the crucified Christ recalls God's mighty acts for the salvation of humanity and reproaches humanity for unfaithfulness. The text was included in The Draft Proposed Book of Common Prayer, but was rejected by the 1976 General Convention as capable of an anti-Semitic interpretation. In 1979 a revised version of the reproaches which avoided the possible misinterpretation appeared in the Methodist From Ashes to Fire, and was subsequently included in The Book of Alternative Services of the Anglican Church of Canada (1985). In this version Christ reproaches humanity for making his “chosen Israel” the “scapegoats for your own guilt.” The BCP allows “appropriate devotions” at the time of the veneration of the cross, which may include the Reproaches (p. 281). None of the biblical accounts of the crucifixion describe words of reproach for humanity by Christ on the cross.

Glossary definitions provided courtesy of Church Publishing Incorporated, New York, NY,(All Rights reserved) from “An Episcopal Dictionary of the Church, A User Friendly Reference for Episcopalians,” Don S. Armentrout and Robert Boak Slocum, editors.