Tenebrae: Thanks to Magnificat Magazine

Tenebrae service at St. John Cantius. 3-19-08

I have mentioned Magnificat Magazine a few times in the past, and everyone who has ever subscribed to it via my recommendation has written to say how essential it has become to their prayer life.

I must praise it again, particularly as I am going to borrow heavily from it during this Holy Week. If I could, I would just cut-and-paste the whole thing on my site, that’s how good it is. But as I can’t I can only recommend to you that you consider a subscription, and each time I use a quote or discuss an idea that I’ve gleaned from Magnificat, I will be sure to note it, so you can get a sense of just how rich it is. Not only does it contain a “shorter” Liturgy of the Hours for each day, and all of the mass readings, it also provides gorgeous works of art (with instructive commentary) litanies, blessings, classic meditations and original essays galore, and even pithy, fascinating hagiographies of little-known saints. It is, frankly, a great read, day-by-day.

This month’s issue has a really terrific instruction on Tenebrae, which was written by Sr. Genevieve Glen, OSB of St. Walburga’s Abbey. As a reader had suggested I do a Tenebrae podcast, I read it with interest, but decided that really – it needs a video more than a podcast, and I don’t own a video camera. Maybe next year.

As Sr. Genevieve writes:

“During the Easter Triduum, it became the custom to being the service in a church lit by candles clustered on a stand. After each of the psalms that made up the long service, one candle was extinguished, until only one, the Christ candle, remained burning. It was carried out, still lite, sometime before the Canticle of Zechariah. At the end of the service, the choir banged their books against their choir stalls to simulate the sound of an earthquate, at which signal, the candle was carried in again, still lit, a vivid foreshadowing of the Easter Service of Light. The poignancy of the service was further heightened by the singing of the haunting Lamentations of Jeremiah, readings selected from the Book of Lamentations.”

Magnificat helpfully makes suggestions as to how to adapt a Tenebrae service to one’s own home. I told you, it’s a great magazine. And here is what the end of Tenebrae looks like. Note the light coming into the darkness, at the end.

End of Tenebrae at St. John Cantius. 03-19-08


Lamentations of Jeremiah, Part I, Tallis

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