Good Friday Tenebrae Service

The Tenebrae Service is a tradition in the Christian Church that is used in the last days of Holy Week to impress upon the hearts of believers the awful consequences of sin and the magnitude of the Savior’s sacrifice.

The word “Tenebrae” means darkness, and indicates the darkness which covered the earth at the time of Christ’s crucifixion. This darkness is visually portrayed in the service through the gradual extinguishing of the candles and other lights in the church.

The candles represent the disciples and other followers of the Lord. They all gradually take to flight. The ensuing darkness symbolizes the growing hatred and resentment of the world against the Savior.

The large candle represents the Savior Himself. It is removed from the altar to symbolize the death of Jesus. The candle is not extinguished, but is carried out of the Church. (A little while and ye shall not see me” John 16:16.)

After the Lord’s Prayer, a time of silence is observed. The silence is broken by the slamming of the Bible to the altar, signifying the closing of the tomb. The benediction is spoken immediately thereafter. After the benediction the congregation will depart in silence. The lights of the church are not turned on. The organ does not play again until Easter morning.

The congregation remains seated for the entire service, until the final prayers and benediction. Upon completion of the service, the congregation will please leave in a manner that maintains the spirit of the worship just completed. In order that we may preserve a devotional atmosphere in the narthex also, the pastor will not greet the worshipers, as is usually done.

Click here to download the service folder:

Copyright info: Recording and music in today’s service is used with permission under Onelicense, license #A-719913