What is a Tenebrae Service?

The observance of Tenebrae has been a longstanding tradition here at Mt. Bethel. Here is a brief description and history of the significance of this observance:

In the Christian faith, Tenebrae is a solemn observance held on the evening of Good Friday, the day commemorating the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. Its name, “Tenebrae,” is Latin for “shadows” or “darkness,” symbolizing the somber mood of the occasion.

Originating in medieval monastic communities, the service typically consists of readings from the Bible, choral music, and the gradual extinguishing of candles, symbolizing the diminishing of Christ’s light as He approached His death. The darkness represents the despair and suffering experienced during Jesus’ crucifixion and death. It often concludes a strepitous or loud noise such as the slamming shut of a book, symbolizing the earthquake that followed Jesus’ death.

Throughout history, Tenebrae services have varied in format and content across different Christian denominations. Here at Mt. Bethel, the central theme remains the same: reflecting on the sacrifice of Jesus and the significance of Good Friday in the Christian faith. Worshippers participate in this service to observe the solemnity of Christ’s passion, meditating on the profound spiritual truths of redemption and sacrifice. It serves as a powerful reminder of the gravity of Good Friday and prepares believers for the celebration of Easter Sunday, when Jesus rose from the dead, triumphing over sin and death.

Join us for Mt. Bethel’s Good Friday Tenebrae Service on March 29 at 7PM in the Sanctuary.