Lenten prayer, music service planned

ST. MEINRAD — Saint Meinrad Seminary and School of Theology will present a service of Lenten prayer and music called “Song of the Shadows.”

It will be held at 7 p.m. CT Monday, April 8, in the school’s St. Thomas Aquinas Chapel. The service is free and open to the public.

Tenebrae is a Holy Week service that is at least 1,000 years old. Originally, Tenebrae was sung each day of the Triduum in a church lit only by 15 candles. These were extinguished one by one until the church was left in darkness.

At that point, a loud noise would be produced — with special hammers, the slamming of hymnals and doors, or by stomping on the floor — symbolizing the earthquake after Christ’s death.

Like the “lessons and carols” services familiar at Christmas, Tenebrae consists of hymns and readings. Until the mid-1950s, when the Easter Vigil was revived, nearly every parish in the United States sung Tenebrae on Holy Thursday, Good Friday and Holy Saturday. Today, churches with Tenebrae services usually sing them once on a Lenten evening.

At the end of the service, there would be total darkness signifying Christ lying in the tomb. The word “Tenebrae” is Latin for “shadows” or “darkness.” It can also be translated as “night” or “death.” In recent years, the readings have been replaced with hymns in the form of a cantata introduced by a narrator.

The Saint Meinrad community offers a modified Tenebrae service by eliminating the candles and their sequential extinguishing. This change was made to be principally compliant with the history of the service, as the seminarian community is not on campus during Holy Week.

Over 40 seminarians, monks and community members will be offering their talents for this Lenten service.

Parking is available in the Guest House and student parking lots. For more information, contact Mary Jeanne Schumacher during business hours at 812-357-6501. For updates on the day of the performance, call 812-357-6611.


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