Thursday, April 9, 2009

Tenebrae II

The supression of Tenebrae in the Roman Catholic Divine Office was one of the first liturgical changes to have been made in the years before the liturgical reforms of the Second Vatican Council. That took place when, in the early 1950's Pope Pius XII reformed the Divine Office and the liturgy of Holy Week and the Sacred Triduum. These reforms became mandatory in 1955.

Up till then the Easter Vigil was celebrated on Holy Saturday morning – if you can believe it!

At the same time Pope Pius XII moved the Holy Thursday Mass to the evening and Good Friday services to the afternoon or evening. This effectively ended the celebration of Matins and Lauds together as an anticipated Office on Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday. That was the end of Tenebrae.

After the Council and the liturgical reforms a joint celebration of the Office of Readings and Morning Prayer in the style of Tenebrae is suggested for the mornings of Good Friday and Holy Saturday.

By the way, St. Sebastian is celebrating the Office of Readings and Morning Prayer in the style of Tenebrae this year for the first time on Good Friday and Holy Saturday. We used to have just Morning Prayer for the Triduum. We also now have the Tenebrae Hearse or fifteen candle triangular candlestand, since snuffing candles is a part of the Tenebrae ritual. The candles for the altar and the hearse are unbleached which will heighten the difference of these two very special days.

On Holy Thursday it’s just Morning Prayer that we will sing together.