FRIDAY - The Descent and the Procession of Our Dead Lord
 
     
  On Good Friday, the ceremonies begin at 3.00 pm, with the 'Adoration of the Cross' and the 'Mass of the Pre-Sanctified'. These ceremonies involve the choir and a special repertoire, including the tracto 'Eripe me', by Father João Baptista Lehmann, as well as Venite and the Good Friday Motet Popule Meus, both by anonymous composers.  
     
 

Eripe me, Domine ab homine malo, a viro iniquo eripe me.
Qui cogitaverunt iniquitates in corde, total die constituebant praelia.
Acuerunt linguas suas sicut serpentis venenum aspidum sub labiis eorum.
Custodi me, Domine, de manu peccatoris, et ab homanibus iniquis, eripeme.
Qui cogitaverunt supplantare gressus meos absconderunt superbi laqueum mihi;
Et funes extenderunt in laqueum, juxta iter scandalum posuerunt mihi.
Dixi Domino: Deus meus es tu: exaudi, Domine vocem deprecationis meae.
Domine, Domine virtus salutis meae obumbrasti super caput meum in die belli.
Ne tradas me, a desideria meo peccatori; cogitaverunt contra me ne derelinquas me, ne forte exaltentur.
Caput circuitus eorum labor labiorum ipsorum operiet eos
Verumtamen justi confitebuntur nomini tuo: et habitabunt recti cum vultu tuo.

 
     
 

Deliver me, O Lord, from the evil men, preserve me from the wicked men,
From those with mischief in their hearts, continually are they gathered together for war.
They have sharpened their tongues like a serpent, adders' poison is under their lips.
Keep me, O Lord, from the hands of the wicked, and preserve me from the evil men
Who purpose to hinder my movements. The proud have hid a snare for me
And spread a net with cords, by the wayside they have set a trap for me.
I said unto the Lord: Thou art my God, hear the voice of my supplication, O Lord.
O Lord, my Lord, Thou strength of my salvation. Thou hast covered my head in the day of battle!
Do not give me up, O Lord, to the desires of the wicked. They take counselled together against me. Forsake me not, lest they exalt themselves.
As for the head of those that encircle me, let the mischief of their own lips cover them.
Surely the righteous shall give thanks unto Thy name and the upright shall dwell in Thy presence.

 
     
 

Popule meus, quid fecit tibi? aut in quo contristavi te? Quia eduxi te de terra Aegypti, parasti crucem Salvatori tuo, Responde mihi.

Ye people: what have I done to you or in what have I offended you? I took you out of the land of Egypt, but you have prepared a cross for your Saviour. Answer me.

 
     
  The highlight of the Week, however, takes place that evening, with the ceremony of the 'Descent from the Cross' (Descimento da Cruz), which is followed by the 'Funeral Procession of Our Dead Lord' (Procissão de Nosso Senhor Morto). The Descent takes places in front of the Cathedral before a huge crowd, during which a life-size image of Christ with movable arms is taken down from the cross and laid in an open coffin that is processed around the town.

As one local described it to me, "The Descent is the most moving moment of Holy Week. You can see how much He suffered. They take off that crown of thorns, and you can imagine the blood that must have flowed. Then they take out the nails, one by one. How painful! And his arms come down, first one, then the other. Then the feet. You can just see how much his mother had to bear."

The drama today still elicits the sentiments expressed in the late 19th century by Francisco de Paula Ferreira de Resende, who during the descent felt as though he had come face to face with Christ himself; in his words, the descent "touched us with objects of nothing but sadness and mournfulness, and filled our souls with a piercing pain that somehow took from us all our strength, while filling us with remorse. ...". The procession, following the open coffin of Our Dead Lord, "not simply silently but like an ungraspable secret, creat[ed] ... an atmosphere of true mystery and sanctity, solemnly moving in a darkness that embrace[d] all of nature."

 
     
 
 
     
  During the Procession of Our Dead Lord there are the performances of the 'Song of Veronica' (Canto de Verônica), repeated at each station. Veronica's performance is always anxiously anticipated. This non-biblical figure is said to have wiped Christ's face, capturing it on her cloth. Dressed in black and standing on a chair above the crowd, Veronica's mournful, unaccompanied voice fills the night; the crowd look on in awe as she unrolls her cloth to reveal Christ's image. Her song calls out: "O vos omnes qui transitis per viam, attendite et videte si est sicut dolor meus" ( Oh, all ye who pass by, look and see if there is sorrow like my sorrow).  
     
 
 
     
  Veronica's perfomances are followed immediately by the Song of the Three Marias, or the 'Beus', who sing: Heu! Domine, Salvatore noster (Oh, Lord, our Saviour), which is followed by Pupille, the later composed by Manoel Dias de Oliveira.  
     
 
 
     
 

Pupille facti sumus absque patre, matres nostrae viduae.

We have become orphans without fathers, our mothers are widowed.

 
     
  Once back at the Cathedral, the choir sing Sepulto Domino.  
     
 

Sepulto Domino, signatum est monumentum, volvente lapidem ad ostium monumenti, ponentes milites, qui custodirent illum.

Having the Lord been placed in the tumb, the entrance was sealed with a rock and soldiers were left to watch over it.

 
     
  The population wait their turn to bless themselves on Our Dead Lord.  
     
 
 
     
 
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