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Catholic Tenebrae Service
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Catholic Tenebrae Service

Dear readers, here we are offering Catholic Tenebrae Service PDF to all of you. If you are a catholic and want to know to get the Catholic Tenebrae Service in pdf format then you should stay on this article. Tenebrae is a religious service of Western Christianity. This prayer is held during the three days preceding Easter Day.

In the Roman Catholic Church, “Tenebrae” is the name given to the celebration, with special ceremonies. There are many people who During the three days leading up to Easter, also known as the Sacred Triduum, Matins and Lauds are combined together in a special way, and with ancient rubrics, forming Tenebrae.

Catholic Tenebrae Service PDF

  • Tenebrae (meaning ‘darkness’ or ‘shadows’) is the morning prayer of the church on Holy Thursday, Good Friday, and Holy Saturday. It involves extinguishing candles one by one as Christ goes through his passion.
  • This adaptation of the Liturgy of Tenebrae works well in schools and has an impact on pupils. It can be dramatic and different and provides a good alternative to Mass for ending the term before Easter.
  • Texts for Tenebrae are provided below. Please feel free to adapt and rewrite according to your school’s needs. The prayers are written for secondary school pupils and may need rewriting for younger children.
  • Seven readings and the liturgy set out below with a large congregation has a running time of comfortably under 1-hour.
  • If you use this liturgy of Tenebrae, please do let us know how you got on, what you adapted, and, if possible, share any rewrites or ideas you used. This is how the resources on this website are developed for the benefit of all.

Historical Note

Tenebrae was the celebration of the liturgical hours of Matins and Lauds on Holy Thursday, Good Friday, and Holy Saturday (although often celebrated publically on the preceding evenings). With the 1955 revision of Holy Week, Tenebrae disappeared. Matins became the Office of Readings in the revision of the Liturgy of the Hours by the Second Vatican Council.

Notes on the celebration of Tenebrae in schools

If you wish to have a procession to begin the liturgy, a suitable hymn is needed. Alternatively, you could begin simply with the priest, or other presiders, in place. Again, a hymn may gather the community together. But starting in silence is also effective and different from the usual liturgy.

If you have a procession, you may wish to bring up the seven lit candles and place them on the front of the altar. Or they can already be in place. It is suggested you use large candles.

The introduction is important. It could be read by one or several readers. Read slowly and reflectively. It is designed to focus attention and create calm.

After each reading, a pupil should come forward and extinguish one candle. This needs to be given some thought so it is done in a dignified and dramatic way (using a snuffer rather than blowing it out perhaps). It is also an idea to have all the lights on at the start of Tenebrae and then to put some off as each candle is extinguished until there are no lights on when the seventh candle is hidden.

By tradition, the seventh candle (representing Christ, the light of the world) is not extinguished but is solemnly taken from its place and hidden (usually behind the altar). This should be done in silence and followed by silence. It is suggested there are no further prayers, hymns, or blessings. Pupils are dismissed in silence (and asked to keep silent until they are outside the church, or wherever) – if this is explained in the homily it can be very effective. Supervising staff needs to be briefed so that they know how to dismiss pupils without speaking and are themselves silent and solemn.

It is traditional to pause after the words of the fifth reading “Then Jesus cried again with a loud voice and breathed his last.” Again pupils need warning that this will happen and why.

The sixth reading is the dramatic portrait of the suffering servant from Isaiah. It is intended to provide a good lead into the homily or reflection which, it is suggested, reflects on the person of Jesus on the cross and our reactions to that.

A custom that developed for the liturgy of Tenebrae was the ‘strepitous’ – this was a loud noise made as the seventh candle was removed and hidden created by banging books on pews and sounding rattles and untuned percussion instruments. The ‘strepitous’ signifies the confusion and terror which accompanies the death of Christ and his burial. If you think you can pull it off with your pupils, it may be worth trying: maybe a sustained loud and discordant chord from the organ, or rattles and woodblocks sounded by selected pupils. Obviously, this needs to work well – if it is likely to descend into laughter and farce it is best left out! But it can be effective, especially as it is followed by silence and dismissal silence.

If you are producing a printed order of service, you may wish to include a powerful image at the end that pupils can look at as they wait to be dismissed.

There is a PowerPoint to accompany this adaptation of Tenebrae with moving clouds to accompany the introduction, an image for each reading, and a candle being extinguished for the end.

Liturgy of Tenebrae for schools
(Opening hymn)
Introduction
(read slowly, inviting people into the silence)‘Tenebrae’ means darkness or shadows.
As we come to the end of Lent,
we begin a journey into darkness to a place of deep shadows.
Today we accompany Jesus in his last hours.
We witness the cruelties and the suffering he endures.
We listen to the words of condemnation and ridicule.
In all this he is innocent.
He is the faithful servant of God,
doing his Father’s work;
bringing the gospel of love, peace and hope.
And so, in this liturgy, we are invited to walk solemnly and attentively with Jesus.
Better to know.
Better to understand.
Better to be his friend, his disciple, his witness.
Be still and know that God is here.
First Reading (Mtt 26:17-29 The Last Supper)
The first candle extinguished (in silence)
Hymn or song (congregational or choir)
Prayer (stand)
Second Reading (Mtt 26:36-56 Jesus is betrayed and arrested)
The second candle extinguished (in silence)
Hymn or song (congregational or choir)
Prayer (stand)
Third Reading (Mk 15:1-5 Jesus before Pilate)
The third candle extinguished (in silence)
Hymn or song (congregational or choir)
Prayer (stand)
Fourth Reading (Mk 15:16-32 Jesus is crucified)
The fourth candle extinguished (in silence)
Hymn or song (congregational or choir)
Prayer (stand)
Fifth Reading (Mtt 27:45-54 Jesus dies on the cross)
The fifth candle extinguished (in silence)
Hymn or song (congregational or choir)
Prayer (stand)
Sixth Reading (Isaiah 52:13 – 53:5 The Suffering Servant)
The sixth candle extinguished (in silence)
Hymn or song (congregational or choir)
Prayer (stand)
Homily or Reflection
Seventh Reading (Mtt 27:62-66 Jesus is laid in the tomb)
The seventh candle is hidden (in silence or with the ‘strepitous’)
Depart in silence

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