On Great Friday, April 6, when the Holy Church remembers the holy, salvific, and terrible sufferings and death of our Lord Jesus Christ, Metropolitan Hilarion of Eastern America & New York, First Hierarch of the Russian Church Abroad, led the divine services in the Synodal Cathedral of the Sign in New York City, co-served by Eastern American Diocesan vicar Bishop Nicholas of Manhattan and cathedral clergy.
On Great Friday, Liturgy is not served, because on this day, the Lord brings Himself in sacrifice. The divine services on the day of Christ’s Passion began with the Royal Hours. The order of the reading of the Hours is very ancient; dating back to Apostolic times, documents indicate the 3rd, 6th, and 9th Hours as times when Christians would gather for prayer. With the arrival of a new day, they would appeal to God in its first hour and sing psalms, which led to the establishment of the 1st Hour. On the Third Hour (9:00 AM by our reckoning), they would commemorate the descent of the Holy Spirit on the Apostles, and call down His grace. The Sixth Hour was dedicated to the remembrance of the Crucified Savior, while the Ninth Hour was dedicated to the remembrance of His death on the Cross.
After the reading of the Hours, Vespers was served in the Cathedral of the Sign, and the Shroud was brought out of the altar. It was carried by the cathedral clergy, and under it, the First Hierarch bore the Holy Gospel.
All those present venerated the Shroud, while the canon of the Lamentation of the Theotokos was read.
Matins for Great Saturday, during which the Church commemorates the Burial of the Lord Jesus Christ, when the Savior’s Body was taken down from the Cross and placed in a new tomb. The touching singing of the cathedral clergy and the Synodal Choir lent the service a truly prayerful tone.
On Friday evening, Metropolitan Hilarion led Matins and the procession with the Shroud in the Synodal Cathedral in New York City, symbolizing the Burial of the Savior. Already here, after the burial of the tortured and murdered Lord, His Resurrection is anticipated, and after the procession, the Prophecy of Ezekiel concerning the common resurrection is read, followed by triumphal singing and the reading of the Gospel. His Eminence was co-served by Eastern American Diocesan Bishop Nicholas of Manhattan and cathedral clergy.
This year, Great Saturday coincides with the great feast of the Annunciation of the Most Holy Theotokos. In such an instance, the rubrics call for the combining of the divine services – at Great Friday Vespers and Great Saturday Matins, the solemn and somber hymnody for the death and burial of the Lord was joined by the joyous hymns of the Archangel Gabriel’s proclamation to the Virgin Mary that she would be with Child.
Metropolitan Hilarion led the festal Polyeleos with the singing of the magnification, "With the Archangel’s voice…" After the reading of the canon for the Annunciation and Great Saturday, the procession and readings resumed as normal.
Over the course of these three partial days, in commemoration of the three days that Jesus Christ spent in the tomb, the Shroud will remain in the center of the church for veneration by the faithful.
New York City: First Hierarch of Russian Church Abroad leads Great Friday in Synodal Cathedral - 04/07/18
Photos: Media Office of the Eastern American Diocese - A. Boldeskul