At Great Friday Matins on Thursday evening, Christ’s Church triumphally proclaims the tidings of the sufferings and death of the God-man, divided into 12 Gospel readings, called the Passion Gospels. The reading of the Twelve Gospels on Great Thursday, April 6, in the Synodal Cathedral of the Sign in New York City was led by Metropolitan Hilarion of Eastern America & New York, co-served by Bishop Nicholas of Manhattan, cathedral senior priest Archpriest Andrei Sommer, and cathedral clergy.
The reading of the Passion Gospels was preceded and accompanied by the hymn: "Glory to Thy longsuffering, O Lord." At each reading, the faithful lit their candles, thus demonstrating the triumph and glory that accompanied the Son of God even during His extreme abasement amidst mockery and suffering. Beyond to the Gospel readings, the entire service was sung in a manner of great spiritual triumph.
The reading of the Twelve Gospels is a very ancient Church tradition. In the Church of Jerusalem in the first centuries of Christianity, this service took place throughout the night, and the Gospel was read in three locations: on the Mount of Olives, where the Lord taught His disciples before His sufferings; in Gethsemane, where He was arrested; and on Golgotha, where He was crucified. These first two places – the Mount of Olives and Gethsemane – are home to two large convents of the Russian Church Abroad, where the clergy, monastics, and pilgrims also prayed at the divine service and during the reading of the Twelve Gospels.