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Holy Friday

Matins of Holy Fri­day are gen­er­al­ly cel­e­brat­ed on Thurs­day night. The main fea­ture of this ser­vice is the read­ing of twelve selec­tions from the Gospels, all of which are accounts of the pas­sion of Christ. The first of these twelve read­ings is Jn 13:31–18:1. It is Christ’s long dis­course with his apos­tles that ends with the so-called high priest­ly prayer. The final gospel tells of the seal­ing of the tomb and the set­ting of the watch (Mt 27:62–66).

The twelve Gospel read­ings of Christ’s pas­sion are placed between the var­i­ous parts of the ser­vice. The hym­nol­o­gy is all relat­ed to the suf­fer­ings of the Sav­iour and bor­rows heav­i­ly from the Gospels and the prophet­ic scrip­tures and psalms. The Lord’s beat­i­tudes are added to the ser­vice after the sixth gospel read­ing, and there is spe­cial empha­sis giv­en to the sal­va­tion of the thief who acknowl­edged Christ’s Kingdom.

The Hours of Holy Fri­day repeat the Gospels of Christ’s pas­sion with the addi­tion at each Hour of read­ings from Old Tes­ta­men­tal prophe­cies con­cern­ing men’s redemp­tion, and from let­ters of Saint Paul rel­a­tive to man’s sal­va­tion through the suf­fer­ings of Christ. The psalms used are also of a spe­cial prophet­ic char­ac­ter, e.g., Ps 2, 5, 22, 109, 139, et al.

There is no Divine Litur­gy on Good Fri­day for the same obvi­ous rea­son that for­bids the cel­e­bra­tion of the eucharist on the fast­ing days of lent.