Good Friday (Holy Friday), commemorates Christ’s tortures, Crucifixion, Death and Burial.
On Friday morning, Jesus, subjected to all kinds of humiliation, was forced personally to carry the heavy wooden cross to the heights of Golgotha. Suffering intensely, He reached Golgotha where the Crucifixion was accomplished. By midday He was already nailed to the Cross. Fixed on it were the deriding words, “Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews.” Four Roman soldiers had carried out the sentence. Jesus’ robe fell by lot to one of them. The act conforms to Psalm 22:18,”they divided my garments among them, and for my raiment they cast lots.” According to Matthew 27:35, “And when they had crucified him they divided his garments among them by casting lots.” At noon the sun darkened over. The crowd dispersed. For three hours there was utter confusion. Jesus, having shed His blood, had reached His end.
The Crucifixion Service (Gark Khachelootyan) takes place first with Psalms, hymns and readings commemorating the crucifixion, final hours and final sayings of Christ. The Worship of the Holy Cross is performed once again, with everyone standing, as there is no liturgical kneeling allowed during the daytime on Good Friday.
Jesus, who had been crucified along with two robbers, needed to be taken down from the Cross and buried that same day. It was against Jewish custom to conduct a burial on the Sabbath (Saturday). The soldiers tested to see if Jesus had died. One of them pierced Jesus’ side with a spear, and blood and water flowed out. It confirmed Jesus’ death.
The burial was undertaken by special permission by a devout man named Joseph of Arimathea. The vault was in his own garden, at the foot of Golgotha. Devout women of Galilee were there. The body was placed in a tomb hewn into a rock, and a huge rock was placed at the door. On the insistence of the priests, the governor ordered a guard to be placed at the tomb, for three days.
The Burial Service (Gark Taghman) is performed late on the afternoon of Holy Friday, this being one of the more beloved services of the Armenian people. During this service a “tomb” (or representation) is draped in black and decorated with candles and flowers, which the faithful bring as an offering to the crucified Lord of Glory. During this service, a very beautiful and haunting rendition of the hymn “Soorp Asdvadz” is sung. The Worship of the Cross is performed once again, whilst kneeling. At the end of the service, the faithful are invited to approach and venerate the tomb, and to receive a flower.
The Requiem Service (Entanour Hokehankist) directly follows the Gark Taghman.
Courtesy of “Feasts of the Armenian Church and National Traditions” by Garo Bedrosian, 1993