Saturday Snapshot March 30: Tenebrae

Tenebrae is Latin for shadows. I was in a Tenebrae Good Friday service yesterday, a symbolic visualization of the Easter narrative.

7 candles

Seven lit candles were gradually extinguished between scriptures, poetry, and music, symbolizing the imminent death of Christ. Ultimately only the centre flame, the Christ candle, was burning. Momentarily, it too was snuffed out.

“Then [Peter] began to curse and swear, ‘I do not know the man!’ And immediately a rooster crowed.” — Matthew 26:74

Total darkness.


Later, the single Christ candle was relit… the resurrection, light illuminating darkness again. The solitary flame is in the lower left in the above photo.


Saturday Snapshot is hosted by Alyce of At Home With Books. These two photos were taken from where I sat, using my iPhone.


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If she’s not birding by the Pond, Arti’s likely watching a movie, reading, or writing a review. Creator of Ripple Effects, bylines in Asian American Press, Vague Visages, Curator Magazine.

28 thoughts on “Saturday Snapshot March 30: Tenebrae”

  1. Arti,
    This was a lovely Easter time post and photo spread. . . the church did a great job telling a story with incorporating candles and light. thank you for sharing as always.


    1. Michelle,

      Images indeed were with us as we left, walked out slowly in the near darkness. Thanks for stopping by and sharing your thought.


  2. Sharing your photos of the service with your brief explanations allowed me to “enter in, “thus enabling me to
    experience Good Friday; I wasn’t able to attend a service.Thank you.


  3. I like the idea of including art in your service. We had images showing on a screen between readings, but not poetry or music. I may share that idea with our Pastor. Did you have an evening service that the candles showed up so well? Our service was in the morning, with plenty of light streaming in. Sounds like a meaningful service. Thanks!


    1. Storygal,

      It was in the morning. But because the sanctuary received no natural light so we could achieve total darkness. It’s probably one of the rare occasions when one would appreciate a windowless space. Instrumentals were kept at a minimum… one acoustic guitar, a violin, and a single hand drum, which has a useful effect when the (imaginary) rock is rolled to seal the tomb.


    1. Diane,

      Yes, it’s almost spring here, even though we still have snow in the forests. I’ll be starting a Spring Birdwatching Course next week! Looking forward to it. Thanks for stopping by.


  4. This looks like a moving service. In the Catholic church, the Paschal candle is extinguished on Good Friday and isn’t lit again until Easter to symbolize the days in the tomb, the days without hope. Here’s Mine


    1. Paulita,

      That’s even more realistic, in real time. Guess this one is a condensed version… but still quite effective. Thanks for stopping by and leaving your comment, as well as sharing the link to your post. 😉


  5. Your photograph beautifully captures the solemnity and grace of His death for us. I’ve never been to a Tenebrae service.

    Happy Easter! Today He is risen!


  6. Arti, this is such a meaningful and beautiful post. I love the bunnies and color and spring and the fun of it all, along with a bit of irreverence now and then. But the underlying reason of the holiday remains and in your post, it is powerful. Happy Easter!


  7. I’ve always loved the Tenebrae service – it’s very meaningful, and it was a traditional part of my Methodist upbringing.

    Once I became Lutheran, I learned to love the Easter vigil – the extinguishing of the Christ Candle on Good Friday, and its re-lighting at midnight on Easter. My absolute favorite part of the liturgy is called The Exultet, the Easter Proclamation chanted at the time the candle is lighted. You can hear one version here – it’s a little different than the Lutheran version, but one of the best I could find musically. I had the chance to sing it several times, and it was a wonderful experience.

    Again, a blessed Easter!


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