still the old-fashionista, it’s good friday to me, but holy friday is all right if you prefer. our stormy weather was a perfect backdrop to the tenebrae service. at the end of the maundy thursday service our altar was stripped and by this evening it had been dressed with black vestments and the tenebrae “hearse” which holds fifteen candles with the Christ candle in the middle. the service consists of 3 “nocturns” which are 3 psalms each, 3 readings from lamentations, and 3 from hebrews, while extinguishing candles after each reading. i was a last-minute reader as well as pianist, and read psalm 16, psalm 4, and psalm 85. the music was in a minor key; a soloist sang “he was born to die”. by the end of the cycle of bible readings and hymns, the church was nearly dark and the acolyte removed the christ candle. we read together psalm 51 and afterward heard (nearly jumped out of my skin) the strepitus which is 3 loud bangs like a nail being hammered or a door being slammed. these are to signify the crucifixion, the tomb being closed, the earthquake, etc. then the christ candle is replaced on the altar to signify that jesus will return. and we all walk out in silence.
the description makes it sound complicated, and indeed there is a lot of meaning there, but it is a very moving ceremony. if you get a chance, read those psalms i read….good stuff.