Holy Wednesday–Into Darkness

The traditional service for Wednesday night before Maundy Thursday is known as Tenebrae. Services vary among denominations, but most of them feature the gradual extinguishing of lights in the sanctuary until the service ends in total darknesss. This night marks the beginning of the end, the descent into despair that will be miraculously lifted by the dawn of Easter.

Here is Paul Celan (whose poetry is holy despair all through) reading his “Tenebrae.” And here’s a translation.

The music for these services often consists of settings of texts from the Lamentations of Jeremiah. A few examples:

Lassus
Victoria (with an interesting bit of history of the (d)evolution of Tenebrae services)
Palestrina
Poulenc

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