Beloved brothers and sisters in the Lord,

On Holy Friday evening, in the Orthros of Holy Saturday, all of us yearn to gather at the tomb of Christ, near the Epitaphios icon of Our Lord that rests in the flower-covered kouvouklion, and sing the lamentations, τά Ἐγκώμια. These hymns express both our grief at the death of our Lord, and our praise of His destruction of death in the forthcoming Resurrection.

Now more than 500 years old, the melodies and the words of many of the verses dwell deep in the hearts of all Orthodox Christians. They are part of our DNA. We joyfully anticipate hearing them begin:  Ἡ Ζωὴ ἐν τάφῳ. Holding our lit candles, our hearts overflow in the beauty of it all.

However, it seems the opening of the third stanza is sung most powerfully by the entire congregation: “All generations offer a hymn to your burial, O my Christ.” Αἱ γενεαὶ πᾶσαι, ὓμνον τῇ Ταφῇ Σου, προσφέρουσι, Χριστέ μου.

The power of this short verse and the verses to come cannot be underestimated. I believe part of the power is because in this short verse, we join all the generations before us who sang a funeral hymn to the Lord. We confess the faith of our fathers and mothers. But, we shall not be the last generation to sing this hymn. This must also be the faith of our children and the faith of the generations that will follow us. We must share our faith in Christ with them, as well as our traditions which so beautifully express that faith. So, this year, sing the Lamentations to them. Let them know this ancient hymn is an anthem, not only of the past, but for the future.

May Christ our true God, who endured the Passion, the Cross, and the entombment for our sake, be with you all.

Καλή Ανάσταση!