Tenebrae service according to the modern LOTH
  • PLTT
    Posts: 121
    (Apologies in case this is in the wrong place - wasn't sure if it should go here, or some place like "General Discussion")

    I thought I would share this in case anyone is interested. Before others chime in: yes, I realize that many people find the traditional Tenebrae more evocative/better/etc., and prefer to use the Traditional texts or a paraliturgy making use of some or all of the traditional texts, in Latin or the vernacular. The following is offered simply as another idea for those who are using the revised liturgical books for whatever reason (constraint, convenience, preference.....).

    History:This service was used in a formation community for a couple of years, and then in a parish. It is rather flexible and can be used in a highly expanded form, or an abbreviated form. In its most expanded form, it can serve as an alternative Good Friday service in the morning with many similar elements (hymns, readings, Passion Gospel, prayers.....) to the afternoon liturgy, or a service for Holy Saturday morning. It can be used on Holy Thursday morning, but that is part of Lent, and so does not have a lot of proper material.

    The idea was to attempt to have a Tenebrae service that uses a lot of material from the traditional repertoire of Holy Week (hymns, responsories, Lamentations, even the tonus planctus from the old Passion, etc.), while staying within the bounds of the modern liturgical books. It was also an attempt to find something that would work more smoothly within the flow of the post-conciliar liturgy.

    In many places that use the revised Liturgy of the Hours, it seemed that a bit of a patchwork had emerged when it came to celebrating the modern LOTH while using elements of the traditional Tenebrae. Often the traditional elements were sandwiched between the Office of Readings and Morning Prayer or elements of the revised Office were moved around. There did not for example, seem to be any justification in the revised books for traditional customs such as omitting the versicles and hymns. In addition, the few post-conciliar liturgical authors that mention a liturgical Tenebrae service often assert (without a lot of justification) that elements can be amplified and added and modified (a little dubious, in the light of GILH 247)

    Ceremonial: The point of departure for the ceremonial was Tenebrae as laid down in 1961, when a revised Holy Week had already been introduced. The 1957 Pontifical Rite for Holy Week (and earlier changes to the breviary) adapted elements of the classical Tenebrae service to the new Holy Week rites. The strepitus was removed, the single candle was left lit at the end, and the extinguishing of 6 candles at the Benedictus was changed (6 candles were extinguished on Holy Thursday, none on Good Friday since the altar was stripped, and 4 candles around the crucifix on Holy Saturday). The ceremonial is really the only thing that could be said to be outside the book since the modern books do not really treat it at all. However, the 1957 ceremonial is in harmony with the ideas found in Paul VI Holy Week (e.g. the decor of the church and the altar, the norms found in Paschale Solemnitatis, etc.)


    Introductory versicle

    Invitatory Psalm and Antiphon


    Hymn (e.g. Pange Lingua)

    3 Psalms with antiphon

    Versicle and Response

    Reading 1 - the readings were taken from Lamentations following the 2 year cycle of LOTH, published in Notitiae, and also at the back of DSP Christian Prayer books. On Good Friday, an extract from Lamentations 3 is read and on Holy Saturday from Lamentations 5. Traditional tones can be used - we went for the Mozarabic ones when the cantors were up to it.
    Regrettably here, the use of the NAB had to be ditched in favour of the RSV. We were reluctant since the NAB is the version of the lectionary in the USA - however, the translation of Lamentations missed many of the references to the Passion that were the reason for the selection of the Lamentations in the first place.

    Responsory 1 - either from the LOTH, or from those given in the Ordo Cantus Officii (OCO), especially if chant/polyphony was desired (e.g. from the Victoria settings)

    Reading 2 - from LOTH

    Responsory 2 - either from LOTH or OCO

    [Responsories from OCO match up with LOTH on Holy Saturday better than on Good Friday]


    Antiphon: either LOTH or OCO

    3 Canticles (unfortunately, on Holy Saturday, there is a repetition between one of the canticles and the reading)

    Gospel Reading: on Good Friday, can be chanted in the Passion tone. On Holy Saturday, can be chanted in the old pre-56 'tonus planctus'

    Homily if desired.


    Hymn (e.g. Crux fidelis)
    GILH can be interpreted as allowing for a single hymn for the combined offices, or two hymns. We moved to 2 hymns only to give people a change in posture from continuous sitting, especially if the Extended Vigil was not used)

    2 Psalms + OT Canticle with antiphons

    Scripture Reading
    We chanted this an adapted Lamentation tone.

    Christus factus est

    Benedictus and its antiphon

    The chanted response was Kyrie eleison from the Antiphonale Romanum. It was reminiscent of the medieval practice of singing the Kyries at the conclusion of the service

    Our Father
    Regular melody, but we went with recto tono as sounding more plaintive

    Prayer and blessing as usual.

    Ceremonial-wise (as I mentioned, there is no rubric regarding this): We stuck with the Traditional tenebrae hearse of 15 candles. Candles were extinguished at the psalms and responsories (for which there is early and medieval precedent) and the hymns. If the full service is abbreviated, then either multiple candles have to be extinguished at the various points, or candles have to be extinguished also at other points (e.g. readings).
  • VilyanorVilyanor
    Posts: 383
    This is really cool.

    I've thought about arranging something similar, but it's been on a far back burner, I'm glad somebody has done it.

    I wonder how well the NABRE would work (if it were approved for the liturgy), as far as I can tell it's a far superior translation, while preserving the language people are familiar with from hearing the readings at Mass. Not really important, I'm just thinking out loud. Or in type.
  • igneusigneus
    Posts: 274
    Good Friday and Holy Saturday Matins + Lauds as currently used in the Prague cathedral

    If I remember well, there is no Tenebrae hearse or other stuff picked from the older use and not mentioned in the rubrics of Liturgia horarum.
    Thanked by 1CHGiffen
  • We use the LOTH too. Here is where I store my files. The texts are for Friday. There are Pdfs and word documents so you can easily edit. book formats and large prints.
    Thanked by 1MichaelDickson
  • (You need to put a space between "...html" and "The" or the link is broken.)
  • chonakchonak
    Posts: 8,740
    (link fixed)
    Thanked by 1eft94530
  • PLTT
    Posts: 121
    Just bumping the thread again for this year, in case anyone is interested....
    Thanked by 1Incardination
  • Here's what we're doing this year... Office of Readings and Morning Prayer for Holy Saturday, anticipated on Friday night.
  • Richard MixRichard Mix
    Posts: 2,403
    A wonderfully generous helping of psalmody for the assembly! (One tiny quibble with page 2: "combining the offices of Matins and Lauds for on Holy Thursday, Good Friday, and Holy Saturday.")
  • PLTT
    Posts: 121
    That is a great combination of elements! My only thought is that (if not using the proper hymn for Holy Saturday) the Fortunatus Pange Lingua which focuses on the Cross fits better with the Good Friday-Holy Saturday theme than the Aquinas Pange Lingua which is Eucharistic.

    Also, in a future year, perhaps you may consider doing the Lamentations instead of Hebrews as the first reading? The proper extract for Holy Saturday in the post-conciliar liturgy (from the biennial cycle) is Lamentation 5:1-22, the Prayer of Jeremiah.
    Thanked by 1OraLabora