By GEORGIA BULLETIN STAFF | Published April 7, 2023
ATLANTA–The Cathedral of Christ the King held a Tenebrae service Wednesday, April 5.
Tenebrae is a mournful prayer service of song and Scripture. Archbishop Gregory J. Hartmayer, OFM Conv., attended the service, which is marked by the gradual extinguishing of lights until the service ends in darkness and silence. The service, rooted in ancient tradition, recalls the sufferings and death of Christ.
It had been 61 years since Tenebrae was last prayed at the Cathedral.
Michael Accurso, director of music at liturgy at the Cathedral, gave a short introduction about the service to parishioners and guests.
“Tenebrae is a Latin word, which means darkness,” said Accurso.
He explained that six of seven candles would be extinguished throughout the service with the remaining one briefly removed to signify the “temporary triumph” of the prince of darkness over the Light of the World. The candle is then returned.
Another feature of the service is a loud, negative noise that symbolizes the earthquake that occurred at the moment of Christ’s death on the cross. Accurso encouraged those attending to join in the noisemaking by stomping their feet or lightly striking the pews.
The noise ends when the one glowing candle returns.
The final psalm sung was Psalm 51, a lament, and perhaps the most well-known of the seven penitential psalms. It prays for the removal of the disorders that sin has brought:
“Have mercy on me, God, in accord with your merciful love; in your abundant compassion blot out my transgressions. Thoroughly wash away my guilt; and from my sin cleanse me.”
The Tenebrae service may be viewed at livestream.com/ctk/holy/videos/235715015.