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The Improperia are a series of antiphons and responses, expressing the remonstrance of Jesus Christ with His people.[1] They are also known as the "Reproaches". In the Catholic liturgy they are sung as part of the observance of the Passion, usually on the afternoon of Good Friday. In the Byzantine Rite, they are found in various hymns of Good Friday and Holy Saturday.

The improperia appears in the Pontificale of Prudentius (846-61) and gradually came into use throughout Europe in the eleventh and twelfth centuries, finally being incorporated into the Roman Ordo in the fourteenth century.[2] Included in the Good Friday liturgy was the use of a litany of intercessions, where the Church was asked to pray for various categories: catechumens, the afflicted, heretics, schismatics, and Jews. In the fifteenth century the adjective “perfidious” was added to qualify “Jews”.[3]


In the Anglican Church the Reformation brought about a significant realization of the sinfulness of all humanity and the subsequent responsibility of all people for the death of Jesus Christ. The Reproaches were therefore suppressed by Thomas Cranmer, Archbishop of Canterbury when he authored the first Book of Common Prayer in the sixteenth century. However, the liturgical movement and the desire to connect with ancient liturgical traditions has led to some Provinces in the Anglican Communion to reintroduce the Reproaches. For example, the revisers of the 1989 Anglican Prayer Book in the Anglican Church of Southern Africa to reintroduce the Reproaches as “The Solemn Adoration of Christ Crucified.”[4] The revisers of the Anglican Prayer Book have sought to downplay the historical anti-Semitism associated with the Reproaches.



  1. "Improperia". Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton Company. 1913. 
  2. d’Uzer, V, “The Jews in the Sixteenth-Century Homilies” in Wood, D (Ed) (1992) Christianity and Judaism Studies in Church History, Vol. 29
  3. d’Uzer, V, “The Jews in the Sixteenth-Century Homilies” in Wood, D (Ed) (1992) Christianity and Judaism Studies in Church History, Vol. 29
  4. An Anglican Prayer Book (1989) Church of the Province of Southern Africa


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