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Tenebrae: A Service of Worship for Good Friday

A tenebrae service from the 2003 Calvin Symposium on Worship.

The 2003 Calvin Worship Symposium celebrated a Tenebrae service on Friday night, January 10, and a celebration of the resurrection on Saturday morning. The conference worship book included all the music; most of the songs can be found in Sing! A New Creation.

Friday January 10, 2003, 8:00 p.m.

Tenebrae: A Service of Worship for Good Friday

The service of Tenebrae, meaning "darkness" or "shadows," has been practiced by the church since medieval times. Once a service for the monastic community, Tenebrae later became an important part of the worship of the common folk during Holy Week. We join Christians of many generations throughout the world in using the liturgy of Tenebrae.

Tenebrae is a prolonged meditation on Christ's suffering. Readings trace the story of Christ's passion, music portrays his pathos, and the power of silence and darkness suggests the drama of this momentous event. As lights are extinguished, we ponder the depth of Christ's suffering and death; we remember the cataclysmic nature of his sacrifice as we hear the overwhelming sound of the "strepitus"; and through the return of the small but persistent flame of the Christ candle at the conclusion of the service, we anticipate the joy of ultimate victory.

Please enter in silence.

The Approach to God

Wondrous Love arr. Charles Callahan; Choral Dorien Jehan Alain; Passion Chorale arr. Max Reger

Leader: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
People: Amen.
Leader: Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,
the Father of mercies and the God of all consolation,
who consoles us in all our affliction,
so that we may be able to console those who are in any affliction
with the consolation with which we ourselves are consoled by God.
People: For just as the sufferings of Christ are abundant for us, so also our consolation is abundant through Christ.

*Hymn Christ, the Life of all the Living (Psalter Hymnal 371)
stanza 1 – all in harmony, st 2 – all in unison, st 3 - all in harmony

Leader: The Lord be with you.
People: And also with you.
Leader: Let us pray.

The Service of the Word
Scripture Reading
Luke 23:26-31
“Pity or Penance?”
Choral Response: All You Who Pass This Way J. Berthier

The Service of Shadows

The Shadow of the Agony of Spirit
Reading Luke 22:39-46
Response Go to Dark Gethsemane (Psalter Hymnal 381)
stanza 1 – all in harmony
stanza 2 – all in canon: women begin, men follow after one measure
stanza 3 – all in harmony

The Shadow of Arrest
Reading John 18:1-8
Response Ah, Holy Jesus (Psalter Hymnal 386)
stanza 1 – all in harmony, st 2 – men in unison, st 3-4 – all in unison

The Shadow of Denial
Reading Matthew 26:69-75, 27:1-5
Response Judas, Peter poem by Luci Shaw

The Shadow of Accusation
Reading Mark 15:1-15
Response Kyrie Eleison (Lord, Have Mercy) (Sing! A New Creation 53)
one time choir, two times all

The Shadow of Mockery
Reading Matthew 27:27-31
Response O Sacred Head (Psalter Hymnal 383)
stanza 1 – all in unison, st 2 – choir, st 3 – all in harmony

The Shadow of Crucifixion
Reading Matthew 27:32-44
Response Sarabande from Cello Suite No. 2 J. S. Bach

The Shadow of Death
Reading Luke 23:44-49
Response When I Survey the Wondrous Cross (Psalter Hymnal 384)
stanza 1 – all in harmony, st 2 – all in unison, st 3 - all in harmony
The Christ Candle is removed

The Shadow of Burial
Reading Mark 15:42-46
Solo Response Were You There?

Silent meditation


The Christ Candle is restored

Were the whole realm of nature mine,
that were a present far too small,
love so amazing so divine,
demands my soul, my life, my all.

Leader: May Jesus Christ
who for our sakes became obedient unto death,
even death on a cross,
keep you and strengthen you.
People: Amen.

The people leave in silence