Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Tenebrae -- A Service of Gathering Darkness

Tonight, the students and chaplain from Canterbury-MSU will lead a service of Tenebrae at All Saints. Tenebrae is the Latin word for "shadows," and this service is designed to capture the emotional aspects of the gathering darkness of Holy Week.

It dates from monastic times, when some of the late night services, Matins and Lauds, were moved to the evening of the night before for a special Holy Week observance. The service is a series of readings and psalms that evoke the sorrow and suffering that Jesus must undergo. As the readings progress, the candles on the altar are extinguished, one by one.

Finally at the end of the service, only one candle remains, representing the light of Christ. It is taken away and hidden. A loud noise is made, symbolizing the earthquake at the resurrection. The candle is returned to its stand, symbolizing the light that shines in the darkness, which the darkness cannot extinguish. The congregation then departs in silence.

The service tonight will include Taize-style chants to aid our meditation and prayers. There will also be visual displays to lead us through the journey to the cross.

If you have never attended a Tenebrae service, you should come and experience this ancient, meditative and moving worship.

+ Kit

Tenebrae will be held in the main sanctuary tonight at 7.


  1. I attended this service for the first time last year - a moving experience. --Martha

  2. I am from Wyoming and was wanting to do a tenebrae service with our youth. Can you help me?