This day is set aside in the calendar of the church to hold in remembrance those who have died and those whose lives have been severely damaged as a result of acts of genocide: the systematic and intentional destruction of a people by death, by the imposition of severe mental or physical abuse, by the forced displacement of children, or by other atrocities designed to destroy the lives and human dignity of large groups of people. This day is chosen for the commemoration because the international community recognizes April 24 as a day of remembrance for the Armenian Genocide, the systematic annihilation of the Armenian people during and just after World War I.
Tragically, human history is littered with such atrocities and the Armenian Genocide was far from the last such mass extermination of people in the twentieth century. One need only mention Croatia, Nazi Germany, Zanzibar, Guatemala, Bangladesh, Burundi, Equatorial
Guinea, East Timor, Cambodia, Afghanistan, the Kurds, and Tibet, and this is by no means a comprehensive list. The unflinching resolve of people of faith, in prayer and in action, is critical if the travesty of human genocide is to be curbed and eventually stopped. HWHM
The Lord said: I think thoughts of peace and not of affliction.
You will call upon me, and I will answer you,
and I will lead back your captives from every place. Jeremiah 29
to whom all hearts are open,
all desires, known,
and from whom no secrets are hid:
Cleanse the thoughts of our hearts
by the inspiration of your Holy Spirit,
that we may perfectly love you
and worthily magnify your holy name;
through Christ our Lord. Amen.
O Lord, open my lips,
and my mouth shall declare your praise.
Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit,
as it was in the beginning, is now, and will be forever. Amen.
HYMN: Kevin Keil ©
Come and bring light to a people in darkness.
Come set us free from the chains we have made.
We are your people, the flock that you tend.
Lord, open our eyes once again.
1 To the ones brokenhearted: Open our eyes.
To the plight of the poor: Open our eyes.
To the innocent children: Open our eyes.
Teach us compassion and love.
2 To the victims of violence: Open our eyes.
To the ones who seek justice: Open our eyes.
To those sitting in prison: Open our eyes.
Teach us compassion and love.
3 When a color divides us: Open our eyes.
When the darkness surrounds us: Open our eyes.
When we choose to look elsewhere: Open our eyes.
Teach us compassion and love.
4 To those full of life’s sorrow: Open our eyes.
To the needs of the lowly: Open our eyes.
To the ones who seek peace: Open our eyes.
Teach us compassion and love.
5 To those suffering illness: Open our eyes.
To those trapped by addiction: Open our eyes.
To those lost or forgotten: Open our eyes.
Teach us compassion and love.
(Anglican Chant: https://tinyurl.com/y9wwyccr)
1 Blessed are those that are undefiled in the way *
and walk in the law of the Lord.
2 Blessed are they that keep his testimonies *
and seek him with their whole heart.
3 For they who do no wickedness *
walk in his ways.
4 Thou hast charged *
that we shall diligently keep thy commandments.
5 O that my ways were made so direct *
that I might keep thy statutes!
6 So shall I not be confounded *
while I have respect unto all thy commandments.
7 I will thank thee with an unfeigned heart *
when I shall have learned the judgements of thy righteousness.
8 I will keep thy ceremonies *
O forsake me not utterly.
9 Wherewithal shall a young man cleanse his way *
even by ruling himself after thy word.
10 With my whole heart have I sought thee *
O let me not go wrong out of thy commandments.
11 Thy words have I hid within my heart *
that I should not sin against thee.
12 Blessed art thou, O Lord *
O teach me thy statutes.
13 With my lips have I been telling *
of all the judgements of thy mouth.
14 I have had as great delight in the way of thy testimonies *
as in all manner of riches.
15 I will talk of thy commandments *
and have respect unto thy ways.
16 My delight shall be in thy statutes *
and I will not forget thy word.
17 O do well unto thy servant *
that I may live, and keep thy word.
18 Open thou mine eyes *
that I may see the wondrous things of thy law.
19 I am a stranger upon earth *
O hide not thy commandments from me.
20 My soul breaketh out for the very fervent desire *
that it hath alway unto thy judgements.
21 Thou hast rebuked the proud *
and cursed are they that do err from thy commandments.
22 O turn from me shame and rebuke *
for I have kept thy testimonies.
23 Princes also did sit and speak against me *
but thy servant is occupied in thy statutes.
24 For thy testimonies are my delight *
and my counsellors.
25 My soul cleaveth to the dust *
O quicken thou me, according to thy word.
26 I have acknowledged my ways, and thou heardest me *
O teach me thy statutes.
27 Make me to understand the way of thy commandments *
and so shall I talk of thy wondrous works.
28 My soul melteth away for very heaviness *
comfort thou me according unto thy word.
29 Take from me the way of lying *
and cause thou me to make much of thy law.
30 I have chosen the way of truth *
and thy judgements have I laid before me.
31 I have stuck unto thy testimonies *
O Lord, confound me not.
32 I will run the way of thy commandments *
when thou hast set my heart at liberty.
Glory be to the Father, and to the Son :
and to the Holy Ghost;
as it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be :
world without end. Amen.
(Karl Kohlhase: http://oremus.org/chant/Psalm-119-1-32-KH.mp3)
How blessed whose way is blameless,
who walk in the law of the LORD.
How blessed who keep his teachings,
who seek him with all of their heart.
They also do no unrighteousness;
they walk within his ways.
You have ordained your precepts,
we’ll keep them diligently.
O let my ways be firmly set,
to always keep your statutes!
Then I shall not be ashamed,
when I look upon Your commands.
I’ll give thanks with an upright heart,
when I learn your righteous judgments.
Yes, I will keep your laws;
O do not completely leave me!
How can a young man keep his way pure?
By keeping it by your word.
With all my heart I have sought you;
don’t let me stray from your laws.
Your word I’ve treasured within my heart,
so I will not sin against you.
Blessed are you, O LORD;
instruct me in your laws.
With my lips I have proclaimed,
all the rulings of your mouth.
I’ve rejoiced in the way of your teachings,
as much as in all wealth.
I will meditate on your precepts,
and also regard your ways.
I will take delight in your precepts;
and never forget your statutes.
Deal bountifully with your servant,
Let me live in keeping your word.
Open my eyes so that I may see,
wonderful things from your law.
I am a stranger upon the earth;
don’t hide from me Your commands.
My soul is crushed with a longing,
for Your judgments at all times.
You rebuke the proud who are cursed,
who wander from your commandments.
Take away my reproach and contempt,
for I hold to what you teach.
Even though princes may sit and deride me,
your laws your servant meditates.
Your teachings are also my delight;
for they are my counselors.
My soul cleaves to the dust;
revive me by your word.
Confessing my ways, you give answer;
instruct me in your laws.
To understand the way of your precepts,
I will meditate on your wonders.
My soul is weeping from grief;
O strengthen me by your word.
Please remove the false way from me,
and graciously grant me your law.
I have chosen the faithful way;
and have placed your words before me.
I will cling to your testimonies; O LORD,
don’t put me to shame!
I’ll run the way of your commands,
for you will enlarge my heart.
you are just in all your ways
and your commandments are the greatest of treasures.
Give us understanding of your law
and direct us according to your will
that we may be faithful in serving you
for the sake of Jesus our Lord. Amen. BCW
THE WORD OF GOD
Reading: Ezekiel 9:1-11
Then in my hearing he called out loudly: Draw near, you guardians of the city, and bring your weapons of destruction! Suddenly, six men came from the Upper Gate that faces north. All of them were holding weapons of destruction. Among them was another man who was dressed in linen and had a writing case at his side. When they came in and stood beside the bronze altar, the glory of Israel’s God rose from above the winged creatures where he had been and moved toward the temple’s threshold. The Lord called to the man who was dressed in linen with the writing case at his side: Go through the city, through Jerusalem, and mark the foreheads of those who sigh and groan because of all the detestable practices that have been conducted in it. To the others he said in my hearing: Go through the city after him, and attack. Spare no one! Be merciless! Kill them all, old men, young men and women, babies and mothers. Only don’t touch anyone who has the mark. Begin at my sanctuary. So they began with the men, the elders in front of the temple. He said to them: Make the temple unclean! Fill the courts with the slain! Go! And they went out and attacked the city.
While they were attacking, I was left alone. I fell on my face, and I cried out, “Oh, Lord God! When you pour out your wrath on Jerusalem, will you destroy all that is left of Israel?” He said to me: “Judah and the house of Israel are very, very guilty. The land is filled with blood, and the city is full of injustice. They have said, ‘The Lord has forsaken the land; the Lord sees nothing.’ I most definitely won’t spare or pity anyone! I will hold them accountable for their ways.” Just then the man who was dressed in linen with the writing case at his side returned and said, “I’ve done just as you commanded.”
HYMN: Charles Wesley
Tune: Jerusalem (Grovesnor) https://tinyurl.com/3fja9vzh
1 What shall I do my God to love,
My loving God to praise?
The length and breadth and height to prove,
And depth of sovereign grace?
2 Thy sovereign grace to all extends,
Immense and unconfined;
From age to age it never ends;
It reaches all mankind.
3 Throughout the world its breadth is known,
Wide as infinity;
So wide it never passed by one,
Or it had passed by me.
4 The depth of all-redeeming love,
What angel tongue can tell?
O may I to the utmost prove
The gift unspeakable!
5 Come quickly, gracious Lord, and take
Possession of thine own;
My longing heart vouchsafe to make
Thine everlasting throne.
Reading: 1 Peter 5:1-14
Therefore, I have a request for the elders among you. (I ask this as a fellow elder and a witness of Christ’s sufferings, and as one who shares in the glory that is about to be revealed.) I urge the elders: Like shepherds, tend the flock of God among you. Watch over it. Don’t shepherd because you must, but do it voluntarily for God. Don’t shepherd greedily, but do it eagerly. Don’t shepherd by ruling over those entrusted to your care, but become examples to the flock. And when the chief shepherd appears, you will receive an unfading crown of glory.
In the same way, I urge you who are younger: accept the authority of the elders. And everyone, clothe yourselves with humility toward each other. God stands against the proud, but he gives favor to the humble.
Therefore, humble yourselves under God’s power so that he may raise you up in the last day. Throw all your anxiety onto him, because he cares about you. Be clearheaded. Keep alert. Your accuser, the devil, is on the prowl like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith. Do so in the knowledge that your fellow believers are enduring the same suffering throughout the world. After you have suffered for a little while, the God of all grace, the one who called you into his eternal glory in Christ Jesus, will himself restore, empower, strengthen, and establish you. To him be power forever and always. Amen.
I have written and sent these few lines to you by Silvanus. I consider him to be a faithful brother. In these lines I have urged and affirmed that this is the genuine grace of God. Stand firm in it. The fellow-elect church in Babylon greets you, and so does my son Mark. Greet each other with the kiss of love. Peace to you all who are in Christ.
HYMN: George Heat
Tune: Laban https://tinyurl.com/yc879zex
1 My soul, be on thy guard;
ten thousand foes arise;
the hosts of sin are pressing hard
to draw thee from the skies.
2 O watch, and fight, and pray;
the battle ne’er give o’er;
renew it boldly every day,
and help divine implore.
3 Ne’er think the vict’ry won,
nor once at ease sit down;
the arduous work will not be done
till thou hast got the crown.
4 Fight on, my soul, till death
shall bring thee to my God;
He’ll take thee, at thy parting breath,
up to His rest above.
Reading: Matthew 5:20-26
Jesus continued, “I say to you that unless your righteousness is greater than the righteousness of the legal experts and the Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.
“You have heard that it was said to those who lived long ago, Don’t commit murder, and all who commit murder will be in danger of judgment. But I say to you that everyone who is angry with their brother or sister will be in danger of judgment. If they say to their brother or sister, ‘You idiot,’ they will be in danger of being condemned by the governing council. And if they say, ‘You fool,’ they will be in danger of fiery hell. Therefore, if you bring your gift to the altar and there remember that your brother or sister has something against you, leave your gift at the altar and go. First make things right with your brother or sister and then come back and offer your gift. Be sure to make friends quickly with your opponents while you are with them on the way to court. Otherwise, they will haul you before the judge, the judge will turn you over to the officer of the court, and you will be thrown into prison. I say to you in all seriousness that you won’t get out of there until you’ve paid the very last penny.”
CANTICLE Exodus 15
(John Schiavone: https://tinyurl.com/ybknobsb)
Ant. I will sing to the Lord; he has covered himself in glory.
I will sing to the Lord, for he is gloriously triumphant;
horse and chariot he has cast into the sea.
My strength and my courage is the LORD,
and he has been my savior.
He is my God, I praise him;
the God of my father, I extol him. Ant.
The Lord is a warrior, LORD is his name!
Pharaoh’s chariots and army he hurled into the sea;
the elite of his officers were submerged in the Red Sea. Ant.
The flood waters covered them,
they sank into the depths like a stone.
Your right hand, O Lord, magnificent in power,
your right hand, O Lord, has shattered the enemy. Ant.
You brought in the people you redeemed
and planted them on the mountain of your inheritance—
the place where you made your seat, O Lord,
the sanctuary, Lord, which your hands established.
The Lord shall reign forever and ever. Ant.
THE PRAYERS BCW18
Gracious God, by day and night
we pour out our prayer to you.
We are crying out for justice,
yearning for what is right,
longing for your peace.
Come quickly to help us, O God;
save those who call upon your name.
We hear of hateful violence and senseless killing . . . How long, O Lord?
We feel the suffering, sorrow, and shame of the oppressed . . . How long, O Lord?
We fear that justice will again be delayed or denied . . . How long, O Lord?
We recognize patterns of privilege and systems of discrimination . . . How long, O Lord?
We see your creation destroyed by carelessness and greed . . . How long, O Lord?
We weep for the victims of genocide, war, ethnic cleansing, . . . How long, O Lord?
We grieve for all who have been killed by state-sponsored violence. . . How long, O Lord?
We pray for an end to hatred and division. . . How long, O Lord?
We long for a day when humankind will turn away from violence
and embrace your path of love and peace . . . How long, O Lord?
Gracious God, keep us working and praying for the day
when your justice will roll down like waters,
and your righteousness like an ever-flowing stream.
Replenish our strength and stir up our hope
as we look for signs of your coming reign.
And fill us with the peace that passes understanding—
the deep peace of Jesus Christ our Savior,
in whose holy name we pray. Amen.
(Plainsong Mode 2: https://tinyurl.com/yctqq8cf)DL
Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your Name,
your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth as in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread;
and forgive us our sins
as we forgive those who sin against us.
Save us from the time of trial
and deliver us from evil.
For the kingdom, the power, and the glory are yours,
now and for ever. Amen.
Mighty and merciful God,
lover of justice and equity,
you call us to support the weak,
to help those who suffer,
and to honor all people.
By the power of your Holy Spirit,
make us advocates for your justice
and instruments of your peace,
so that all may be reconciled
in your beloved community;
through Jesus Christ our Savior. Amen. BCW18
Go in peace, alleluia, alleluia!
Thanks be to God, alleluia, alleluia!
Glory to God whose power, working in us,
can do infinitely more than we can ask or imagine:
Glory to him from generation to generation in the Church,
and in Christ Jesus for ever and ever. Amen. Ephesians 3:20,21
Donation to Support This Ministry
Since 1993, Oremus has been done on a volunteer basis. If you are able, please consider supporting this work at the PayPal link below. For software reasons, I’ve set the value at $10.00, but feel free to change it. Thank you.
BCW Book of Common Worship, Presbyterian Church U.S.A., 1993.
RCLP Revised Common Lectionary Prayers. © 2002 Consultation on Common Texts admin. Augsburg Fortress.
1 Adam Bartlett, Simple English Propers; audio from https://musicasacra.com/additional-publications/sep-practice-videos/ ©
BCW18 The intercession is adapted from Book of Common Worship (2018), Presbyterian Church in the United States of America.
HWHM Holy Women, Holy Men © Church Publishing, Inc.
The scripture readings are © 2011 Common English Bible.
The traditional language psalms are from The Book of Common Prayer (1662). The modern language version of Psalm 119 is by Karl Kohlhase http://www.k4communications.com/karl/index.html
Musical links are usually either to artists’ albums posted on Spotify or to recordings made available at smallchurchmusic.com. Audio stripped from YouTube videos is footnoted accordingly above.
Compilation © 2023 Stephen T. Benner. All links worked at the time they were created, but I cannot accept responsibility for their content or any damage resulting from their use. The linked content is under the control of the respective content creators and is subject to change at any time. Any copyright texts included in this compilation are provided for non-commercial purposes related to study or worship. Please contact the respective copyright holders for permission to use the texts in other contexts.