The Reproaches

The Reproaches or Improperia are a series of antiphons and responses sung in Good Friday liturgies, usually in the afternoon. They first appeared in the ninth century. There are many different versions of the Reproaches with different verses. What is presented below is a shorter and possibly earlier version.

O my people, what have I done to you?
How have I wearied you? Answer me! (Micah 6:3)

I led you out of the land of Egypt,
and you have led your Savior to be scourged.

I led you out of the land of slavery,
and you led your Redeemer to be nailed to the cross.

Lord God most holy,
Lord most mighty,
holy and most merciful Savior,
deliver us from the bitter pains of eternal death.

I threw Pharaoh’s chariots and his army into the sea,
and you delivered me to the chief priests and the Gentiles.

I fed you with manna,
and gave you water to drink from the rock in the wilderness,
and you gave me gall and vinegar to drink.

Lord God most holy,
Lord most mighty,
holy and most merciful Savior,
deliver us from the bitter pains of eternal death.

O my people, what have I done to you?
How have I wearied you? Answer me!

Lord God most holy,
Lord most mighty,
holy and most merciful Savior,
deliver us from the bitter pains of eternal death.

Source: This version is translated from the German version in Allgemeines evangelisches Gesang- und Gebetbuch zum Kirchen und Hausgebrauch, Hamburg, 1846, p. 529.

Some sections are identical to “In the midst of life we are in death…”

For the history of the Improperia and other versions, see the Wikipedia article: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Improperia

Listen to the Improperia sung in Latin in an arrangement by Tomas Luis de Victoria.

Here is a different performance of the same piece that also includes the chant in the illustration at the top of this page.

German version:

The section in the German version “Heiliger Herre Gott…” is quoted from Luther’s hymn version, “Mitten wir in Leben sind…” Our translation above follows our translation of “In the midst of life…”

Was habe ich dir gethan , mein Volk, und womit habe ich dich beleidigt? antworte mir! (Micha 6:3).

Habe ich dich doch aus Aegyptenland geführt: und du hast zu Geißelung überantwortet deinen Heiland.

Habe ich dich doch aus dem Diensthause erlóset: und du hast ans Kreuz geschlagen deinen Erlöſer.

Heiliger Herre Gott!
Heiliger starker Gott!
Heiliger, barmherziger Heiland, Du ewiger Gott,
Laß uns nicht verſinken in des bittern Todes Noth!

Habe ich doch Pharao und seine Reuter gestürzt ins Meer: und du hast mich überantwortet den Hohenprieſtern und den Heiden.

Habe ich dich doch gespeiſet mit Manna, und getrånker von dem Wasser
des Felsen in der Wüste: und du haſt mich getränket mit Galle und Essig.

Heiliger Herre Gott!
Heiliger starker Gott!
Heiliger, barmherziger Heiland, Du ewiger Gott,
Laß uns nicht versinken in des bittern Todes Noth.

Was habe ich dir gethan , mein Volk, und womit habe ich dich beleidigt? antworte mir!

Heiliger Herre Gott!
Heiliger starker Gott!
Heiliger, barmherziger Heiland, Du ewiger Gott,
Laß uns nicht verſinken in des bittern Todes Noth!

Original in Latin:

Popule meus, quid feci tibi? Aut in quo contristavi te? Responde mihi.

Quia eduxi te de terra Ægypti: parasti Crucem Salvatori tuo.

Hagios o Theos.
Sanctus Deus.
Hagios Ischyros.
Sanctus Fortis.
Hagios Athanatos, eleison hymas.
Sanctus Immortalis, miserere nobis.

Ego propter te flagellavi Ægyptum cum primogenitis suis: et tu me flagellatum tradidisti.

Popule meus, quid feci tibi? Aut in quo contristavi te? Responde mihi.

Ego eduxi te de Ægypto, demerso Pharaone in mare rubrum: et tu me tradidisti principibus sacerdotum.

Popule meus, quid feci tibi? Aut in quo contristavi te? Responde mihi.

Published by

pastorstratman

Lutheran pastor and musician serving St. Stephen's in Beaver Dam, Wisconsin.

One thought on “The Reproaches”

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s