Good Friday

Good Friday, the sixth day of the week before Easter, called Good Friday in acknowledgment of the benefit derived from the death of Christ. Among the Saxons it was denominated Long Friday, perhaps is allusion to the length of the fast.

(1.) In the earliest ages of the Church the day of our Lord's crucifixion was religiously observed, not independently, but as a part of the sacred season of Easter, which was celebrated by Christians instead of the Jewish passover, in commemoration at aonce of the death and resurrection of Christ. Two terms werae used to designate Good Friday and Easter-day, which had reference, in name at least, to the passover: πάσχασταυρώσιμον, and πάσχα ἀναστύσιμον, passover of the resurrection. The day was observed as a strict fast. The usual acclamations and doxologies were omitted, and nothing but the most plaintive strains of music, such as the Κύριε ἐλέησον, etc., were allowed to be sung. No bell was rung. None bowed the knee in prayer, because thus the Jews reviled Christ. The kiss of charity was omitted, for Judas betrayed his Master with a kiss. The Lord's supper was celebrated; but the elements were not consecrated on this day, but on the day before. Communion-tables and reading-desks were stripped of ornaments; and the gospel of St. John was read, because he was a faithful and true witness of our Lord's passion. In reference to the Jewish ritual, the day was sometimes called παρασκευὴ, the preparation.

(2.) In the Roman Church the day is celebrated with great care. "The Church in her whole office expresses the deepest mourning and compunction. The altars are naked, except at the priest's communion, when the ornaments are black, and the crucifix is covered with a black veil till the prostration, after which it is left uncovered." Instead of the ordinary masse the "Mass of the Presanctified" is said, without the consecration of the Host. The sacrament, reserved the day before, is received in one kind only by the priest, who recites the Lord's prayer and a small part of the prayers of the mass. "No others receive the holy communion except the priest who celebrates the divine office, and the sick in mortal danger of death, to whom it is administered by way of viaticum."

(3.) Among the Protestant churches Good Friday is observed as a fast, and by special services and prayers by the Church of England, the Lutherans, German Reformed, and many Methodists. — Coleman, Ancient Christianity, page 546; Wheatly, Common Prayer, chapter 5, § 15; Butler, Feasts and Fasts, tr. 6, chapter 5.

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