The service of Tenebrae (the name means ‘darkness’ or ‘shadows’) is a Holy Week devotion tracing its roots back to the seventh century. It is characterized by the gradual darkening of the Sanctuary as candles are extinguished throughout the service. Every word spoken in the service is found in the Scriptures.
The service is intended to impress upon us the significance of Jesus’ death and the events which led to it. At the end of each ‘shadow,’ a candle is extinguished followed by a time of silent reflection. The candle representing Christ is not extinguished, but is carried out of the Sanctuary to represent a period of the complete silence of the tomb. Thirty bells will ring to represent the thirty pieces of silver paid to Judas for betraying Jesus. Following the bells, an increasing drum roll represents the earthquake, followed by the strepitus (the sound of a gong) is heard, a noise signifying the closing of the tomb. At the end of a short period of silence, the Christ candle is returned to its place in anticipation of the resurrection. The Lord’s Prayer will then be whispered in unison. After the Lord‟s Prayer, the choir will recess in silence.
If you would like to join in the singing of the hymns, please print the attached song lyrics file or open the link on another device to read/sing along.