HOLY AND GREAT FRIDAY
On this day, Holy and Great Friday, we celebrate the awesome, holy, and saving Passion of our Lord and God and Savior Jesus Christ: the spitting, the blows, the buffeting, the mockery, the reviling, the purple robe, the reed, the sponge, the vinegar, the nails, the spear, and above all, the Cross and Death which He condescended to endure willingly for our sakes. Also the saving confession on the cross of the grateful Robber who was crucified with Him.
In the morning, the four “Royal Hours” are read. These services consist of hymns, psalms, and readings from the Old and New Testaments, all related prophetically and ethically to the Person of Christ.
Usually in mid-afternoon, Great Vespers is chanted. During this service, we hear the story of the Crucifixion, but with attention paid to the death of Christ, the work of Joseph of Arimathea to secure the body of Christ from Pilate, His removal from the cross, and His burial.
At one point in the reading, the Body of Christ is removed the cross, wrapped in a white cloth and is brought into the sanctuary. Following the reading, the priest carries the icon of the Epitaphios through the church and places it in the Sephulchre (the kouvouklion), which has been decorated with flowers.
Holy and Great Friday evening – THE LAMENTATIONS
On Holy Friday evening, we sing the Orthros of Holy Saturday, consisting of psalms, hymns and readings, dealing with the death of Christ. During the Orthros, the congregation will join in chanting the Lamentations, hymns of praise to the Lord and relating His ultimate triumph over death. During this service the Epitaphios icon is carried in procession around the church. In some parishes the entire flower-bedecked Sepulcher, symbolizing the Tomb, is carried in the procession.