Thursday, April 2, 2009

Monastic Lexicon #9

Tenebrae (from the French: darkness or gloom)

Tenebrae, a part of the long history of the prayers of the church, is the name given to the service of Matins and Lauds on the last three days of Holy Week. The Divine Office of these three days was treated as a sort of funeral service, or dirge, commemorating the death of Jesus Christ.

Our community holds tenebrae in lieu of Morning Praise on both Good Friday and Holy Saturday. It includes a slow and solemn rite of lighting and at the end, extinguishing, tall candles arranged in a standing candelabra.

Sisters chant and present both traditional and contemporary readings and lamentations. All of the prayers, music and environment support the mournful tone of this period.

These annual tenebrae services are a special prayer moment for the community and our guests and are much anticipated each Holy Week.

The Last Supper -- Tanzania.