This Holy Week, all are invited to enter more deeply into the mystery of Christ’s Passion by attending the ancient service of Tenebrae. Led by the St. John Vianney Vesper Choir, this liturgy features psalms, canticles, and the mournful Lamentations of Jeremiah, all sung by candlelight.
In addition to the Mass there are other liturgies that make up the Catholic Church’s cycle of public worship, including Matins, Lauds, Vespers, and Compline. These form the Liturgy of the Hours, also known as the Divine Office, which mark the hours of each day with specific prayers, readings, and psalms. Tenebrae is the Latin word for “darkness” or “shadows,” and refers to the celebration of Matins and Lauds during Holy Week. Celebrated after sundown, a salient feature of the ancient liturgy is the gradual extinguishing of candles to the point of complete darkness, foreshadowing the bleakness of Good Friday. The service consists of singing hymns, psalms and canticles. The scriptural readings are the mournful and evocative Lamentations of Jeremiah the Prophet, which draw a parallel between the apostasy of Israel and the destruction of the temple with the abandonment and betrayal of Christ by his disciples. Perhaps the most familiar aspect of the Tenebrae service is the singing of King David’spenitential Psalm 51, “Have Mercy on Me, O God,” set by some of the greatest Western composers beginning in the Renaissance.
The Office of Tenebrae will be celebrated on Monday, March 26, at 8:00 pm in the Ars Chapel. Music will be offered by the parish’s Vesper Choir, an ensemble of professional and volunteer choir members, as well as treble choristers, all under the direction of Kirk M. Rich, Associate Director of Music. In addition to the many psalms and canticles, members of the choir will perform a special and rare rendition of Gregorio Allegri’s masterpiece, the Miserere mei (Ps. 51). All are invited to this powerful liturgy, an opportunity to enter more fully into the mystery of Christ’s Passion.
For more information, contact Kirk Rich, 281.752.2465.