Friday 13 April 2012

Holy and Great Friday

Of all the services of Holy and Great Friday, the most familiar to most Orthodox Christians will be the matins of Great Friday also called the 'Service of the Twelve Gospels'.  During this service twelve sections of the Gospels are read in which we hear of Christ's Passion and placing in the tomb.

On the morning of Great Friday the Royal Hours are read. The 'royal' part denotes that this service was attended by the Emperor. These hours contain an Old Testament reading, a reading from the Apostle and a Gospel reading relating to Christ's passion. In addition, the psalms of the hours are different, the usual psalms being replaced by ones prefiguring Christ's Passion.

In the afternoon, the Vespers service includes the bringing out of the Epitaphios from the altar to the centre of the church. During this procession the choir sings the troparion 'the noble Joseph' which is also sung, in a slightly augmented form, on the Sunday of the Myrrh-bearers. From now until the kneeling prayers of Pentecost the only time we prostrate in church is in front of the Epitaphios.

Decorating the Epitaphios bier

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