Tenebrae – A Service of Darkness

The service of Tenebrae follows a tradition of the church dating back to the eighth century. From Latin, the word Tenebrae means “darkness” and commemorates the final hours of our Lord’s life on earth, as he suffered death upon the cross. In the early church, the service of Tenebrae was celebrated on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday of the Holy Week.

The spirit of this service is one of deep, solemn meditation. The atmosphere of the service is one of quiet, somber reflection. It takes us into the night in which our Lord Jesus Christ was betrayed. There, we are confronted with sin and its deadly consequences. We encounter the sting of betrayal, and we find that we, like the disciples, are as sheep who have gone astray. As the candles are extinguished, they symbolize the fading loyalty of the disciples and Friends of Jesus. The gradual darkening of the church portrays the diminishing light of the world as Christ was departing from it.

This recording is of the entire service, including all the readings, hymns, homily and Lord’s Supper.