Golgotha is an ancient coptic hymn that dates back to pharonic times. The melody is said to have been the same melody used when pharohs were being buried. At the foot of the cross when Joseph and Nicodemus went to get the body of Christ for burial, they saw and heard angels singing, HOLY GOD HOLY ALMIGHTY HOLY IMMORTAL, the church in its wisdom and custom, took these powerful words and adapted to the ancient melody of this Hymn.
The words of this Hymn are a mixture of Coptic and Greek languages, but mostly Coptic except for the phrases that start with “Glory to the Father … Both now and forever … Holy” which are in Greek (zoxa patri … Ke nein … Agios).
It is chanted on the memory of the burial of the Lord Christ, at the end of the Twelfth Hour Ritual Prayer of the Good Friday, and is called “the Burial Canon”. While chanting it, the deacons go around the altar. The eldest priest takes the Burial Icon or the Crucifixion Icon, wraps it with a strip of white linen and places the cross over it, then he buries it in flowers and fragrant oils and puts five seeds of carnation or incense. These refer to the nails, thorn crown and the spear. Then he covers it with the Prospharine and puts two candlestics with lighted candles on both sides as a symbol of the two angels who were inside the holy tomb, one at the head and the other at the feet.
The place of Golgotha was near Jerusalem, but outside its walls, for St. Paul says, “Therefore, Jesus also, that He might sanctify the people with His own blood, suffered outside the gate therefore, let us go forth to Him, outside the camp, bearing His reproach.” (Heb 13:13) It seems that it was a spot visible from some distance, because the Scripture says, “there were also women looking on from afar, among whom were Mary Magdalene.” (Mk 15:40).
The word is taken from the Greek word “Ikarniune”. Some think that this name was given to this place because of the many bare and unburied skulls. Others say that the place was an open space for execution. However it is commonly thought as being a hill in the form of a skull. In the evening, after the Lord Jesus Christ had breathed His last, Joseph, from the city of Arimathea, who was a rich man and a disciple to Jesus, came to take the body or the Lord. Joseph was a good and righteous person who was also rich. He was a councilor: a member of the Synhedrin. It was said that he refused to attend the trial of the Lord Christ, and abstained from voting because he was against their decision and action.
The rule in the Jewish law was that no dead body remains on the execution tool. Moreover, the Roman law allowed the household of the person sentenced to death to ask for the body and take it. So, Joseph of Arimathea was encouraged and asked Pilate for the body of Christ to be able to bury it before the Sabbath. He had a garden near Golgotha where he had engraved a new tomb, so he took the body of Jesus to bury it, and Nicodemus shared him that honor.
Nicodemus also was a member of the Synhedrin Council, a Pharisee and one of the Jews rulers. He is the one who once came to the Lord Christ by night so as not to be seen by anyone to discuss and learn from Him about the second spiritual birth. Being convinced by the Lord’s words, he defended Him at the Synhedrin when the Pharisees attacked Him. He said to them, “Does our law judge a man before it hears him and knows what he is doing?” (Jn 7:51)
Joseph and Nicodemus took the body of Jesus and they wrapped it in strips of pure linen with spices and fragrant oils, laid it in that new tomb that was hewn out of a rock. While doing this, they were praising Him with tearful eyes. This same Praise became the Burial Canon sung by the church up till now.
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Below is a powerful video that brings to life this wonderful hymnsung at the end of the Twelfth Hour Prayer of the Good Friday. while the reenactment of Christs Burial takes place.
Golgotha in Hebrew, kranion in Greek, the place where You were crucified, O Lord. You stretched out Your hands, and crucified two thieves with You; one on Your right side, the other on Your left, and You, O good savior, in the midst. الجلجلة بالعبرانية والأقرانيون باليونانية الموضع الذى صلبت فيه يارب بسطت يديك وصلبوا معك لصين عن يمينك وعن يسارك وانت كائن فى الوسط أيها المخلص الصالح. Glory be to the Father, to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit. المجد للآب والابن والروح القدس. The right-hand thief cried out saying: Remember me, O my Lord, remember me, O my savior, remember me, O my King, when You come into Your Kingdom. فصرخ اللص اليمين قائلاً اذكرنى ياربى اذكرنى يا مخلصى اذكرنى يا ملكى اذا جئت فى ملكوتك، The Lord answered him in a lowly voice saying: This day you will be with Me in Paradise. آجابه الرب بصوت وديع انك اليوم تكون معى فى ملكوتى. Both now, and ever and unto the age of all ages. Amen. الآن وكل اوان والى دهر الدهور. آمين. The righteous Joseph and Nicodemus came took away the Body of Christ, wrapped it in linen cloths with spices, and put it in a sepulcher and praised Him saying, “Holy God, Holy Mighty, Holy Immortal, who was crucified for us, have mercy on us.” أتيا الصديقان يوسف ونيقوديموس واخذا جسد المسيح وجعلا عليه طيباً وكفناه ووضعاه فى قبر وسبحاه قائلين قدوس الله، قدوس القوي، قدوس الذى لا يموت الذى صلب عنا ارحمنا. Glory be to the Father, to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit. المجد للآب والابن والروح القدس. Both now, and ever and unto the age of all ages. Amen. الآن وكل اوان والى دهر الدهور. آمين. We also worship him saying: “Have mercy on us, O God our Savior, who was crucified on the cross, destroy Satan under our feet.” ونحن أيضاً نسجد له صارخين قائلين ارحمنا يا الله مخلصنا الذى صلبت على الصليب وسحقت الشيطان تحت أقدامنا. Save us and have mercy on us. Lord have mercy, Lord have mercy, Lord bless us. Amen. Give the blessing; I prostrate, forgive me, give the blessing. خلصنا ارحمنا. يارب ارحم يارب ارحم يارب ارحم بارك آمين. باركوا على هذه المطانية اغفروا لى قل البركة.