Friday of the Crucifixion
- Good Friday, more commonly known in Syriac Orthodox circles as Friday of the Crucifixion, and commemorates the crucifixion of Christ.
Probably the most moving service and full of symbolism, it is held at the close of the Third Hour prayers on Friday evening. The service consists of many orders.
The First Procession
Unlike all other processions throughout the year which start from the northern door of the sanctuary, the first procession starts from the southern door and ends at the northern door, signifying the carrying of the Cross by Christ from Pilate's palace to Golgotha. During the procession, the celebrant carries a cross, covered in a black linen, on his right shoulder.
It is usual during processions for the faithful to kiss the cross and the Bible which are carried by the clergy. During this procession, however, the kissing of the cross and the Bible is avoided. In fact, during passion week, the faithful abstain from kissing each other on the cheek (the customary manner of greeting) even in a social context.
During the procession, the following hymn is sung:
Qolo: Kadh Nopheq
As He was coming out of the city, carrying His Cross on His shoulders,
The Hebrew women gathered to weep over Him bitterly.
His mother was standing afar, accompanied with her acquaintances,
As a dove she began to moan with grief and sorrow:
"Wither my Son, wither my beloved One are you going?
Where are they taking You? Why did You give Yourself
In the hands of the ungrateful ones?
Woe is me, my beloved One. What happened to You this day?"
Blessed be Your Passion which was for us
And blessed is Your humiliation which was on our account.
Adoration of the Cross
After the first procession, the clergy stand before the sanctuary, with the curtain closed, the cross stripped bare and fixed on a stand with two lit candles, one on each side symbolizing the two thieves who were crucified with Christ. Later, during the Gospel reading, and when the celebrant reads "But the other [thief] rebuked him (Luke 23:40)", a deacon breaks the left candle which symbolizes the bandit who blasphemed against Christ. At the reading "Now it was about the sixth hour and darkness fell upon earth (Luke 23: 44)", a deacon turns off all the lights in the church. Following the reading "And immediately the curtains at the door of the temple were torn in two, from the top to the bottom (Matthew 27: 51)", the curtain of the sanctuary is drawn back to the center (i.e., half open and half closed).
Following the Ninth hour prayer, the cross is taken down and put on a table, after which the clergy conduct the lengthy Order of the Adoration of the Cross. Some excerpts follow:
Qolo: Mshabhin Lokh Moryo
Today, the Judge of the world bent His head in a court
And was condemned like a servant.
Today, we praise and venerate the Cross,
And at all times, we glorify Him Who was crucified on it.
Qolo: Qum Phawlos
Audio : http://sor.cua.edu/Liturgy/Audio/LebFrQumPhawlos.ra
On Friday, the creation was shaken
And mourning befell all the quarters of the world.
The Ruler of both worlds was crucified on the Cross,
And was ridiculed.
The sun darkened and hid its rays;
The earth was burst asunder and delivered its prisoners.
The heavenly hosts and the fiery ranks
Fluttered their fiery wings miraculously.
At the conclusion of the Veneration of the Cross, deacons read from the Old Testament (Genesis 22: 1-14; Exodus 17: 8-16; Isaiah 52: 13-15, 53: 1-8) and from the New Testament (1 Peter 2: 19-25; Galatians 2: 21-3: 14). The celebrant then reads from the Gospels. Unlike other readings throughout the year, this particular one is a harmony (i.e. a mixture from the four Gospels) taken from Luke "and his friends" as the service book tells us (Luke 23: 49, Matthew 27: 55-56, Mark 15: 41 and John 19: 31-37).
At the conclusion of the Gospel reading, the celebrant stands before the cross and offers incense chanting the following hymn thrice. After each time, the congregation repeats the hymn after him. Then each clergy member (priests and deacons in their hierarchical order), chant the same hymn once with the congregation repeating after each one of them.
Entreaty: Soghdeenan Lasleebo
We bow before the Cross by which we receive salvation for our souls,
And with the thief we cry out: Remember us, O Christ, in Your second coming.
The Second Procession and the Zuyoho
At the conclusion of the above hymn, the celebrant carries the cross on his left shoulder proceeding with the rest of the clergy with the second procession, this time starting from the northern door of the sanctuary and ending at the southern door.
A coffin full with flowers (but no Cross) is carried in the procession on the shoulders of a few men (usually three on each side). It is traditional in some churches to choose some of the elderly for this. During the procession, the faithful seek blessing from the coffin by going under it from one side to the other.
Following the Second procession, the Order of Zuyoho http://sor.cua.edu/Liturgy/Feasts/Zuyoho.html "Elevation" of the Cross is held. This order consists of four prayers performed facing East, West, North and South, respectively.
Following the Zuyoho, the celebrant carries the Cross on his arms, symbolizing the carrying of the body of Christ, and places it on the altar to commence the rite of burial.
The Order of Burial of the Cross
While the deacons chant various hymns, the celebrant stands on the altar step and mixes vinegar with myrrh in a small basin. He moistens the four corners of the cross with this mixture. He then holds the Cross above the basin and washes it with rose water, symbolizing the washing of Christ's body by Joseph and Nicodemus.
The Cross is then embalmed with frankincense, covered with pure cotton and wrapped in a fine linen cloth. A white burial napkin must be bound around the head, and the loins must be bound up with a girdle. Then the cross is placed in the coffin and buried in a special place under the altar. From that point on, it is strictly forbidden to celebrate the Holy Qurbono (Eucharist) on that altar until the time of resurrection. When laying the cross in the tomb (i.e., inside the altar), the head must be towards the South, the feet towards the North, the face towards the East and the right side on the floor so as to press the wound of the spear. The cross should be reclining on its side symbolizing Ezekiel who reclined on his side for thee hundred and ninety days (Ezekiel 4: 4-6). Therefore the back should not touch the floor.
The two fans are placed on each side of the altar closing the entrance to the tomb, with a lit lamp in front of the tomb. The door of the tomb is sealed with wax until Easter Sunday.
During the Burial service, the following hymn (amongst others) is sung:
The burial of the Christ, our King,
Became life for humanity.
Had He not been put in the tomb,
The high gates of Paradise would not have been opened.
Grant, O my Lord, the souls of Your departed servants,
Who have slept trusting in You,
To dwell and have rest in Your Paradise.
At the conclusion of the burial, the faithful partake of a very bitter drink mixture to remind themselves of the passion and the suffering of Christ who bore the sorrows of mankind (Isaiah 53: 4). The faithful must be careful as not to drop any part of this drink.
The Cross remains buried until the day of resurrection.
Source: Ma'de'dono: The Book of the Church Festivals (1984) & SOR
May the Passion of our LORD GOD be a blessing for you all which will
lead you all to the happiness of Easter.
Please remember us in your prayers.
In Our Lord's Love
- Dear Moderators
In the message titled "Friday of the crucifixion" (Digest Number 2550) it is stated that during the (first) procession, the celebrant carries a cross, covered in a black linen. This practice is not there in Malankara. White cloth is used in both the processions. There are enough differences in the practices in India already, please don't add to the confusion by incorporating more practices that are different.
After the first procession, the clergy stand before the sanctuary, with the curtain closed, the cross stripped bare and fixed on a stand with two lit candles, one on each side symbolizing the two thieves who were crucified with Christ. The candles are not lit after the first procession reminding of the darkness between the 3rd and 6th hour.
Another practice of a deacon breaks the left candle which symbolizes the bandit who blasphemed. There are practices in the Universal Syrian Orthodox Church which can be traced to either Thurabdeen or Iraq. Those practices are different from the ones followed by us in Malankara. The books written by Malpans of Malankara do not subscribe to any of the above mentioned practices.
The point is that there are more differences than similarities in our extant practices. Now adding more to that will not improve the situation.
I do respect the sources from which the information is drawn and there is nothing wrong in publishing the article. I see more and more priests doing the services of Good Friday differently. Therefore, it was a quick response while glancing through the articles.
Issac K Joseph
--- In SOCM-FORUM@yahoogroups.com, SOCM Moderators wrote:
> Good Friday, more commonly known in Syriac Orthodox circles as
Friday of the Crucifixion, and commemorates the crucifixion of
> Probably the most moving service and full of symbolism, it is held
at the close of the Third Hour prayers on Friday evening. The
service consists of many orders.
> The First Procession
> Unlike all other processions throughout the year which start from
the northern door of the sanctuary, the first procession starts from
the southern door and ends at the northern door, signifying the
carrying of the Cross by Christ from Pilate's palace to Golgotha.
During the procession, the celebrant carries a cross, covered in a
black linen, on his right shoulder.
> It is usual during processions for the faithful to kiss the cross
and the Bible which are carried by the clergy. During this
procession, however, the kissing of the cross and the Bible is
avoided. In fact, during passion week, the faithful abstain from
kissing each other on the cheek (the customary manner of greeting)
even in a social context.
- Dear Moderators
I find the messages by Mr. Isaac and Rev. Fr Cheruthottil on liturgical traditions (connected with Good Friday) a bit extreme.
Throughout the history of the Church, rituals have changed - we have ample documented evidence for that. Also, at a any given time, traditions at different locations have been different. The different schools of Syriac musical traditions are just one example of this. We are not a military and will never succeed in imposing one way of doing things. Unformity and consistency to some extent can be achieved through better education of our clergy and laity - but even so different practices will always exist. We have to recognize that there are practices which differ in importance in terms of harmony with Orthodox faith. It is harmony of our faith and practices that matter the most - our hierarchs have to make sure that they are not discordant.
Other things - such as whether we cover the cross with a white cloth vs black cloth - I am not sure merit the need to enforce rules around.
I also found amusing the claim that all Malankara Malpans do not support a practice which is the practice in the Middle East. I would ask for citation of sources and the roots of the claimed tradition.
We have inherited slightly variant practices from different parts of the Middle East over the centuries.
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