Holy and Great Friday

All the worship services of Great Friday are devoted to the
reverent and touching memory of the saving passion and death on the
cross of the God-man. Each hour of this day is the new suffering and
the new effort of the expiatory suffering of the Savior. And the echo
of this suffering is already heard in every word of our worship
service – unique and incomparable both in the power of tenderness
and feeling and in the depth of the boundless compassion for the suffering of the

Editor’s Note: On this day we keep watch in each of the hours of the day, the First, the Third, the Sixth, and the Ninth. The Orthodox Church guides us to remember the Savior’s awesome passion each and every day as part of the daily cycle of services.

The Holy Church opens before the eyes of believers a full picture of the

redeeming suffering of the Lord beginning with the bloody sweat in the Garden of
Gethsemane up to the crucifixion on Golgotha. Taking us back through the past
centuries in thought, the Holy Church brings us to the foot of the cross of Christ
erected on Golgotha, and makes us present among the quivering spectators of all
the torture of the Savior. The hymns of the Holy Church cry out: “we see a strange
and terrible mystery accomplished today: He whom none may touch is seized; He
who looses Adam from the curse is bound; He who tries the hearts of men is
unjustly brought to trial; He who closed the abyss is shut in prison; He before
whom the hosts of heaven stand with trembling stands before Pilate; the Creator is
struck by the hand of His creature; He who comes to judge the living and the dead
is condemned to the cross; the Conqueror of Hades is enclosed in a tomb”; “every
most pure member” of His “holy flesh endured dishonor for us: the head – the
thorns, the face – the spitting, the jaws – the buffeting, the mouth – the taste of
vinegar mingled with gall, the ears – the impious blasphemies, the back – the
scourge, and the hands – the reed, the whole body – extension upon the cross, the
joints – the nails and the side – the spear”; “the creator of all is mocked by His own
servants; how great is the Master’s love for mankind! He prayed to His Father for
those who crucified Him, saying: Father, forgive them this sin: for they know not
what they do is unrighteous”; “We worship Thy passion, O Christ, show us also
Thy glorious resurrection”.

Kontakion, tone 8

Come; let us all sing the praises of Him who was crucified for us:
For Mary said when she beheld Him upon the tree:
Though Thou dost endure the crucifixion, Thou art my Son and my God.


O Thou Who on that very day, made the the wise thief worthy of paradise
By the wood of the cross do Thou illumine me as well, and save me.

Adapted from Handbook for Church Servers, S. V. Bulgakov,
Translated by Archpriest Eugene D. Tarris