W H Auden's contemplation of Good Friday draws to a close with a poem for the final office of the monastic day: the sleepy thought that with death we waken to know what did happen today between noon and three.

The poem is introduced by the Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, and read by Tom Durham.


The Archbishop of Canterbury introduces W H Auden's noon office reflection on Good Friday.

People are absorbed in their work, civilisation gives rise to authority and the crowd does not see the whole situation. These three components are each complicit in an approaching death.


In his poem for the evening office of Good Friday, Auden imagines two aspects of humanity: the Arcadians hark back to Eden and the Utopians look forward to a world that is just, if oppressive.

But, as the Archbishop of Canterbury asserts in his introduction, because of the death earlier today, a reconciliation of these two becomes possible to imagine.