Saturday, April 11, 2009


This past week my family went on vacation to the smoky mountains, coming back we stopped in Cincinnati to see the Cathedral St. Peter in Chains. While there we attended both a Mass, and their Tenebrae service. The Tenebrae service was absolutely sublime. I broke into tears about three times throughout it.

At the cathedral they have an amazing choir of 9 men and 9 women (professionals). Here's what they sang at the service;

Hallock: Turn us again, O Lord God of Hosts
Poulenc: Timor et Tremor
Chant: Lamentations of Jeremiah
Victoria: Eram Quasi Agnus
Casals: O vos omnes
Bach: Passiontide Chorale
Allegri: Miserere
Arr. Proulx: Lord Jesus Christ Humbled Himself
Ingeneri: Tenebrae Factae Sunt
Bruckner: Christus Factus Est
--The music and atmosphere there was sublime. I keep using that word, but it seems to be the only word that fits.


The word tenebrae comes from the Latin word for "darkness" or "shadows." Monks chant psalms in the darkness of the night called "Matins" or "Lauds." These offices of during the Sacred Triduum began to be anticipated the evening before Holy Thursday and Good Friday. Tenebrae then started being sung on only Wednesday evening and is officially restricted to the Cathedral.

As the chants and readings progress, candles are gradually extinguished until only one is left.

For a brief time, during the Lord's prayer, the church remains in complete darkness, meditating on Christ's death and victory of darkness and evil in our lives. Until you are startled by a loud noise, the "strepitus," symbolizing the earthquake at the time of the Resurrection. Then the candle reappears and we all depart in silence.

(The Strepitus)

btw: Thanks Diane for letting me borrow this picture!

--The "Miserere Mei" was indescribable! So haunting. I think that's where all the emotions hit me the hardest. Hearing that soprano hit that high note head-on, so pure and easy, so exact, gave me goose-bumps! I have it playing now on here. It is the song playing when you first come to the Blog. My dad said that the music he heard there was some of the best performed live music he's ever heard in all of his musical experience. It was truly amazing. What a gift God gave my family and me that evening before the Holy Triduum. Many graces have been observed throughout this Lenten season. Praised be God! Now and Forever! Amen.