Bishop of Parramatta, Most Rev Vincent Long OFM Conv led the Office of Tenebrae prayers and chanting on the evening of 26 March 2018 at St Patrick’s Cathedral, Parramatta.
The name Tenebrae – the Latin word for ‘darkness’ or ‘shadows’ – has for centuries been applied to the combined Offices of Matins and Lauds on the last three days of Holy Week.
Last night’s service was based on the Office of Readings (Matins) and Morning Prayer (Lauds) of Tuesday in Holy Week in the present Divine Office, arranged into the structure of three nocturns.
VIEW: Images from Tenebrae 2018 below or click here.
In addition to the psalms and readings, each nocturn drew upon traditional elements of the Office of Tenebrae, including the chanting of the Lamentations of Jeremiah, in which some of the verses are introduced by a letter of the Hebrew alphabet. Each lamentation was followed by a responsory, which was sung to polyphonic settings by the cathedral schola, led by Bernard Kirkpatrick (Director of Music for the Diocese of Parramatta).
A distinct feature of the Tenebrae service was the progressive extinguishing of candles as the psalms and readings progressed, until only a single candle – a symbol of Christ – remained.
WATCH: Tenebrae at St Patrick’s Cathedral below or click here.
For a brief time towards the end of the service, the Cathedral remained in darkness, until loud noise (strepitus) and banging on the cathedral pews symbolised the earthquake at the time of the resurrection (Matthew 28:2).
The single candle was restored to its place, and by its light the gathered faithful prayed briefly before departing in silence.