Crucify Him! (the song)

Good Friday

Dear Lindsey,

blur CrucifyMusic somehow reaches the core of my being. A certain song will command movement and make a workout more intense; another tune will force a smile to overcome my countenance; yet other combinations of notes slow my pulse and restore me.

“I wrote this song yesterday; I think this is the piece we have needed for our Good Friday service,” Gary Hallquist, the pastor of music ministry of our church, said a little over a year ago. His music-writing amazes me.

Our Good Friday “Service of Shadows” is a choral and orchestral production centered around Scripture reading, depicting the last days of Christ before crucifixion. The lighting changes to darkness slowly throughout the musical evening, ending the service in complete darkness and silence, as if the Light of the World was extinguished. On Sunday morning, the service begins in the dark, and the lights come up – into full brightness to celebrate the Resurrection.

At the Service of Shadows, singing “There is a Fountain” or “Oh Precious Savior” leaves the listeners and singers in wonder and awe of Christ. But Gary’s song called, “Crucify Him!” stirs different emotions. I didn’t want to sing it.

overall crucifyThe orchestra leads the introduction with dissonance. Conflicting notes that don’t yield “happy” build on top of one another, creating suspense like the theme from “Jaws”. The listener is transported back in time to the day that Pontius Pilate, the Roman governor of Judea, asked the crowd, “What do you want me to do with Jesus?”

“Crucify Him!” is almost shouted in bass tones in a syncopated rhythm that is woven throughout the piece. The shout begins on the first beat of the measure, but then it changes: beat two, or the second half of four – as if a crowd is sporadically shouting their opinions, yet so musical in chorus. The orchestra echoes the rhythm, with the bass instruments randomly repeating it while the choir is singing other melodies, like an underlying hatred in the world.

I hate singing, “Crucify Him!” The words pierce my heart, yet I know singing it creates the emotions for the service that must have been there the day the chief priests and officers were shouting it to the Roman prefect. (John 19:6)

The men sections come in full force, singing the words of Pilate in powerfully ominous bass tones: “Whom do you want me to release to you?”

Title CrucifyThe choir women answer as if they are the crowd of Jewish leaders in front of Pilate, “Give us Barabbas!”

“What do you want with Jesus your king?” Pilate (the choir men) asks.

The crowd (choir women) interrupts with the answer, “We have no king but Caesar; We want Him put to death! His blood be on us and our children!”

What… an… angry… crowd. I cannot imagine the emotional overcast that day.

Do I have to sing and pretend to be that?! I would NEVER scream, “Crucify Him!” If I were there, how could I possibly say that I would rather have Pilate release a prisoner and kill the Son of God instead? Barabbas was known for robbery, which in those days often meant terrorism and/or bloody insurrection. (Mark 15:7) I would NEVER have chosen to release him, knowing that with my words, I could have voted for Pilate to release Jesus, a man who never sinned, instead!

Do you ever have these thoughts?

  • “How could those leaders act like that? Wasn’t a crowd just yelling, ‘Hosanna! Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!’ last Sunday?” (John 12)
  • “How could Peter, one of the disciples, say he didn’t even know Jesus, when just hours before, Jesus had washed his very feet with His own hands?” (John 18:17)
  • What kind of man is Pilate, that he would allow a crowd to make the decision for his conviction.
  • “I would NEVER yell, ‘Crucify Him!’ I would never want to free a bad guy instead. I would NEVER say I didn’t know Jesus. I would never be like that.”

sync crucifyBut I can never say, “never.”

When I judgmentally thought, “That’s disgusting,” looking at someone dressed differently, adorned with things I would not have near my body, and walking in an unattractive way, I was not loving.

When I had to talk myself back into emotional control when the flight attendant gave me a hard time about “FAA regulations,” (which must not have existed on the 3 previous flights that day!) I was not seeing her as Jesus.

When I received a negative email, how much did I want to return the negative with a kiss of betrayal?

“Crucify Him!” I was shouting with each thought, each emotion, each lack of love.

If I am not for Him, I am against Him. (John 3:18) I shout “Hosanna!” in church, and by the time I am home at the end of the week, or sometimes even the day, I have denied Him three times.

I cannot say, “never.”

Barabbas was guilty.

Jesus was innocent.

Barabbas lived; and on that first “Good Friday,” Jesus died in his place.

I am guilty; Jesus died in my place.

Maybe Pilate represents all those men of power who lack the courage of their own convictions. He thought Jesus was innocent (John 18:38, 19:4,6), yet followed the crowd. I have been Pilate.

Peter may stand for those who have been there: felt their guilt, know their need for a Savior, and yet hide it under the pressure of the “in” crowd, a friend or spouse. I have been Peter.

Today, Good Friday, as we remember the day that Jesus was crucified, may we lay our own lives aside and live for Him. “Greater love has no one than this: than to lay down one’s life for his friends.” (John 15:13)

Closing this letter is best done with the words of Dr. Ray Pritchard:

“Finally we are left with the question Pilate asked: “What shall I do then with Jesus?”

You can stand back and say, “I don’t care about him.”

You can push him away and say, “Leave me alone.”

You can open your heart and say, “Lord Jesus, I welcome you into my life.”

That is the best thing you can do. It is the safest thing you can do. Trust him. Run to the cross and lay hold of Jesus who loved you and died for you. What more could you do than what he has done for you?

Jesus or Barabbas. The choice is yours.”

May God give you grace to believe in Jesus and crown him as Savior and Lord today.

In love,


Suggested Reading: John, Chapters 17 -21

Related Post: Climb the Ladder

Below:  Video recording of the Service of Shadows (Crucify Him song is near the 40th minute, but feel free to enjoy its entirety for the real message.)



33 thoughts on “Crucify Him! (the song)

  1. Wow!! Thank you for sharing.. What a day starter, that was a blessing to read, that will give me much to think about my past and present actions .. Thank you !!!

  2. Terri,
    We always think ourselves so smugly superior to “those people,” the ones who shouted those awful things. But as you so rightly pointed out, at heart, human nature remains the same, no matter what sex, culture or tradition it wears on the outside. We can mask it, clothe it with religious piety and deny it to ourselves, but that won’t stop it from being true.
    Thank you for reminding us of ourselves and who we really are at heart, both the best, and the worst.

  3. Inspiring and remembering to cling to that rough hewn cross knowing His blood and His tears shed that sustainable grace for this undeserving soul to rejoice for eternity! Thank you for lifting Christ’s sacrifice up today as a contemplative reminder to be thankful indeed.

  4. Wow, what a very moving article this is and on this day. Thank you for taking the time to bring this eye opening truth to us today. I had the pleasure of seeing The Thorn in Colorado Springs with my son and daughter-in-law this last weekend and your article brought back immediately the power in that play as well. Thank you and have a blessed Easter.
    Sherry Fix

  5. Beautiful reminder, thank you Terri. I feel more gratitude for His sacrifice this year than ever before, and hopefully not as much as I will feel next year. I think it’s sinking in! Your perspective is such a wonderful way to learn wisdom. Have a blessed Easter Holiday. xo

  6. Thanks so much for your insights, Terri. You are so right. It’s so easy to say I would never . . . when our actions and thoughts reveal the opposite. Your blog is a continuous blessing to me as it often makes me laugh or cry, but always makes me think and lifts my spirits! Happy Easter!

  7. Thank you, Terri, for broadcasting these words to the hundreds who read your blog. God bless you as you sing this Good Friday. I’ll be watching and listening at the Service of Shadows.

  8. Oh Lord! So convicting! I am guilty! Yet I am saved. oh the pure love of the finished work on the cross. Thank you Terri. Thank you for using your gift to write and speak to help express what is in our hearts. My pastor once explained, When I get to heaven, there is welcome arch that says ‘ Welcome and thank you for choosing my Son. As if to say I chose Him, and as you walk in and look back at the arch, it read ‘ I chose before time’.

  9. Terri, that was very powerful, I felt like I was sitting right there listening to the orchestra and shouts!…(Does your church do videos and is it on their website?…if so what is the website?) Thank you for sharing your heart with us and giving us a word from God. I am thinking twice about my own guilt….but more than that thanking our savior for sacrificing his life for my plea of guilty! Zoe Tatar

    • Thanks for reading! We don’t have video- but we do have live feed at Click on “listen live” and I listen from my iPhone if I am traveling. I am not sure that tonight’s services (at 6pm and 7:30pm EST) will be on there live, since the lighting makes such a visual effect on the service, but it can’t hurt to click the link and press “play”. It will definitely broadcast Sunday morning’s services though. Thanks for asking!

  10. Glory to God in the Highest!! Thank you for a
    great post! Wish I lived closer to come hear your musical.
    Love you,
    Nicole Porter

  11. Amen Terri! Your words are so powerful and convicting. I am a stronger woman because of your writing and example. Thank you for the passion you displayed in this post! God Bless you, Chris and the kids on this important day!

  12. Thanks Terri and may GOD continue to bless you and your family and all of us with You!!!:)
    Much love Kelly

  13. Thanks so much –You always make me think more! We have an outdoor Easter Pageant here in Mesa Arizona, which we attend every year. The impact is always amazing and makes me more grateful each time. It’s one of the biggest–and free. About 1000 actors, and runs for 2 weeks and packs it out every night. (Invitation to all who ever come to Arizona at this time). Yes, I would love to see and hear what your church did. Sounds very moving. Some day I want to go to the Holy land to walk where He walked. Thanks.

  14. Or maybe, like the disciples, we would have stood by watching, terrified and wondering, “now what?” Would we have scattered as they did when the people started asking, “are you one of His followers?” I’m afraid I too would have bolted. This morning I wonder what the disciples would be thinking. Mourning the loss, fierce reqret for running, ashamed, and wondering…”what was he trying to tell us…”

  15. You are so good at writing Terri. I really hope you come out with a book soon. It’s so amazing how transparent you are. It’s really encouraging. Thank you!

  16. The more I live life the more I understand that I have not lived a perfect life … A life filled with sins … A life that is full of wrong behaviors … A life that is very far away from the best i could/should be … So if I would be able to transport myself back in time, when the mentioned events occured, I really do not know who i will be and what i will do … Ty

  17. Thank you Ms. Terri for the reminder that God’s Word is always so faithful…that He is always so good, and that we are always so unfaithful and always so bad…before Jesus. He is ALIVE in US! Jesus Christ guide you and your family forever,
    with all due respect and admiration,
    a fellow Christian Homeschooler

  18. Fantastic insights Terri. Thank you! Your descriptive words of the music of that song sent shivers down my spine. I felt like I was right there. I remember once listening to a pastor who said that the music of the worship service shouldn’t be a factor in our worshiping, I know I must have misinterpreted his meaning, because music, for me, has always easily brought the emotional feelings, sometimes those buried deep inside, to the forefront. The music you played in the background of this post brought to life the real message, and I couldn’t help but fight back the tears. I thank you for the most powerful Easter message that I heard this Easter season. May God grant me mercy as I try to become better for Him. God Bless!

  19. As the watching of “The Passion’s” scourging scenes make me wince…so this makes me think:
    • ‘In what manner have I acted as Pilate?’
    • ‘In what manner have I acted as Peter?’
    • ‘What un-Christ-like thoughts & behaviors have I embraced?
    …and in what ways have I virtually labeled Scripture “false” by willingly acting counter to its teachings?
    Holy Spirit, please let me defend & represent Truth without violating it.

    In Jesus’ name…Amen.

  20. Terri, Thank you so much!
    Without Christ we are nothing! We take the IAN out of Christian, I AM Nothing.
    Through Jesus blood we are righteous and free!
    Thank you Jesus for Calvary and all you have done at the cross for sinners!
    God bless you!
    Happy Resurrection day!
    Piera Correia

  21. Beautiful!!! We must choose every day (with me almost every hour) to deny the side of me that is Peter or Pontias and choose Jesus!!!
    Again today on this beautiful Good Friday morning I choose the Lamb of God, Jesus!!!
    Love you, Terri!!!

  22. Thank You so much for these great thoughts & ?’s, how I hate being the betrayer & the whimp wanting to be liked, how I have abandoned my Lord many times, how I have nailed Him to the cross, Praise be to God for His Grace & Forgiveness, for His Sacrifice & Strength to get up and follow Him & have so much of it we get to give it away to the world! How fun, what a Blessing we get to be Jesus to others, Praise be to God for such an honor

  23. Thank you for posting your message and the beautiful service from Colonial Baptist. So inspiring and meaningful.

  24. Terri! This is so phenomenal! I have read this from you a few times. When I want gym judge it co e up in the back of my head Crucify him 😬

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