>Holy Friday: Taking Down from the Cross and Lamentations

>Holy Friday is truly the climax of the bright sadness that Orthodox Christians experience during Great Lent every year.

The children of the parish have helped the women decorate the funeral bier with fresh flowers.
The afternoon service, known as the “Taking Down From the Cross” of our Lord is celebrated at 3 p.m. at our parish here in Memphis.
The 7 p.m. service is known as “Lamentations.” It’s like a funeral service in many ways. It’s sung before the Epitaphios by the priest and the congregation… a poetic dirge sung antiphonally by the choir and the congragation. The author of these Lamentations is said to be St. Romanos Melodos.
The music is haunting… once it gets into your soul, it never leaves. Rather than writing about it, I’m going to post several photographs and a few videos I took with my camera. Forgive the extremely amateur videography, but I hope that pictures, and music, will, in this case, speak louder than words.
If you’ve never been to an Orthodox Paschal service, they are amazing. We begin at 11 p.m. tonight (Saturday) night at St. John here in Memphis. The service is over around 1:30 a.m, and then we share a feast in the fellowship hall.

You can actually hear the music if you click on these videos. The first one shows the clergy bowing before the bier, on which the epitaphios, which represents the Body of Christ, is placed.

The next one shows some of the people coming forward to venerate the epitaphios.

Every generation to the tomb comes… this next one has my favorite music of Holy Week…

It takes too long to load these videos, so I’ll skip a few and end with this one, the end of the Holy Friday Procession, as the people come up the steps, under the bier (which represents going under the Red Sea… back through the waters of baptism) and into the church. As I sit here at my computer downloading these, it’s thundering and raining…. and I’m so thankful it waited until after the service! (although I agree with Erin that there’s something fitting about rain and thunderstorms on Holy Friday….)

This morning at Holy Saturday Liturgy (10 a.m.) we’ll be Christmating twelve new members. I love the Holy Saturday service…. it’s when my husband throws bay leaves all over the nave with such vigor and joy…. stay tuned for more pictures and videos!

Please share!