171

Calvary

Full Text

Refrain:
Calvary, Calvary,
Calvary, Calvary,
Calvary, Calvary,
surely he died on Calvary.

1 Every time I think about Jesus,
every time I think about Jesus,
every time I think about Jesus,
surely he died on Calvary. [Refrain]

2 Sinner, do you love my Jesus?
Sinner, do you love my Jesus?
Sinner, do you love my Jesus?
Surely he died on Calvary. [Refrain]

3 Don’t you hear him calling his Father?
Don’t you hear him calling his Father?
Don’t you hear him calling his Father?
Surely he died on Calvary. [Refrain]

4 Don’t you hear him say, “It is finished!”
Don’t you hear him say, “It is finished!”
Don’t you hear him say, “It is finished!”
Surely he died on Calvary. [Refrain]

5 Jesus died for my salvation.
Jesus died for my salvation.
Jesus died for my salvation.
Surely he died on Calvary. [Refrain]

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Scripture References

Further Reflections on Scripture References

Calvary is the Latin name given to the spot where Jesus Christ was crucified. The refrain repeats this word again and again with simultaneous sorrow and affection. The rhetorical questions in the stanzas – “Do you love my Jesus?” “Don’t you hear him…?” – give the song a narrative momentum. The general effect of this spiritual is to remember the final stage of Jesus’ passion. As Christians, we profess that we are united with Christ in death, and united with him in life. The latter cannot be reality without the former. 

 

Sing! A New Creation

Confessions and Statements of Faith References

Further Reflections on Confessions and Statements of Faith References

This song reflects the narrative of the suffering and death of Christ on Calvary, events whose significance and purpose is deepened by the confessions of the church. Heidelberg Catechism, Lord’s Days 15-16, Questions and Answers 37-44 explain the significance of each step of his suffering. Question and Answer 40 testifies that Christ had to suffer death “because God’s justice and truth require it; nothing else could pay for our sins except the death of the son of God.”

 
The Belgic Confession, Article 20 professes that “God made known his justice toward his Son…poured out his goodness and mercy on us…giving to us his Son to die, by a most perfect love, and raising him to life for our justification, in order that by him we might have immortality and eternal life.”
Consider also the testimony of Belgic Confession, Article 21: “He endured all this for the forgiveness of our sins.”

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Calvary

Additional Prayers

The following is a script for a dramatic reading of a portion of the passion narrative. Ideally
Good Friday worship can include the entire passion narrative from John 18-19, which can
easily be used as a dramatic reading, following this model. The reading itself may be simple
and stark.
Narrator: They took Jesus; and carrying the cross by himself, he went out
to what is called The Place of the Skull, which in Hebrew is called
Golgotha. There they crucified him, and with him two others, one
on either side, with Jesus between them. Pilate also had an inscription
written and put on the cross. It read, “Jesus of Nazareth, the
King of the Jews.” Many of the Jews read this inscription, because
the place where Jesus was crucified was near the city; and it was
written in Hebrew, in Latin, and in Greek. Then the chief priests of
the Jews said to Pilate,
Chief Priests: Do not write, “The King of the Jews,” but, “This man said, I am King
of the Jews.”
Narrator: Pilate answered,
Pilate: What I have written I have written.
Narrator: When the soldiers had crucified Jesus, they took his clothes and
divided them into four parts, one for each soldier. They also took his
tunic; now the tunic was seamless, woven in one piece from the top.
So they said to one another,
Soldiers: Let us not tear it, but cast lots for it to see who will get it.
Narrator: This was to fulfill what the scripture says, “They divided my clothes
among themselves, and for my clothing they cast lots.” And that is
what the soldiers did. Meanwhile, standing near the cross of Jesus
were his mother, and his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas,
and Mary Magdalene. When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple
whom he loved standing beside her, he said to his mother,
Jesus: Woman, here is your son.
Narrator: Then he said to the disciple,
Jesus: Here is your mother.
Narrator: And from that hour the disciple took her into his own home. After
this, when Jesus knew that all was now finished, he said (in order to
fulfill the scripture),
Jesus: I am thirsty.
Narrator: A jar full of sour wine was standing there. So they put a sponge full
of the wine on a branch of hyssop and held it to his mouth. When
Jesus had received the wine, he said,
Jesus: It is finished.
Narrator: Then he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.
—from John 19:16-30, NRSV
— Worship Sourcebook Edition Two

O Lord Jesus Christ, suffering Son of God,
our minds do not grasp
the length and breadth, the height and depth
of your love for us sinners,
poured out in your precious blood.
Our minds do not grasp your unfathomable love,
but our hearts hold it; our hearts do hold it. Amen.
[The Worship Sourcebook]
— Worship Sourcebook Edition Two
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Calvary

Tune Information

Name
CALVARY
Key
b minor
Meter
irregular

Musical Suggestion

The melody—the same for refrain and stanzas—is mournful and meditative. Because of that repetition, the stanzas should really be sung by a soloist or different groups, with everyone singing the refrain and perhaps humming the accompaniment under the solo parts. Play slowly if you can sustain the energy and not drag. If you have a choir, introduce by simply humming the accompaniment, perhaps with a saxophone or other instrument on the melody. Use a piano or organ just enough to sustain rhythmic energy. 
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Calvary

Hymn Story/Background

“Calvary” is the Latin name given to the spot where Jesus Christ was crucified. The refrain repeats this word again and again with simultaneous sorrow and affection. The rhetorical questions in the stanzas—“Do you love my Jesus” “Don’t you hear him…?”—give the song a narrative momentum. This African-American spiritual was written from a perspective that found it easier to identify with Jesus’ suffering and death than with his resurrection and glorification. 
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