Good Friday Vespers at St Nicholas
We’ve just got back from Good Friday Vespers (preceded by the Royal Hours) at St Nicholas Church in Brixton, and have a couple of hours before going off to Matins. It was very good this year.
For those who don’t know, Vespers is actually the service of the taking down from the cross, done in the morning by anticipation. The body is taken down from the cricifix and put on the altar, and the burial shroud (epitaphios) is brought out in procession, held over the head of the priest, who carries the gospel book. It is placed on a table in the middle of the church, decorated with flowers, and the book of the gospels is placed on top of it.
People spend most of Thursday, between the morning and evening services, decorating the Epitaphios table with flowers.
When Thou, the redeemer of all, wast placed in a tomb
all hell’s powers quaked in fear
Its bars were broken, its gates were smashed
Its mighty reign was brought to an end
for the dead came forth alive from their tombs
casting off the bonds of their capitivity.
Adam was filled with joy!
He gratefully cried out to Thee, O Christ!
Glory to thy condescension, O lover of man.