Tenebrae Service Preparation Notes

This is some notes on what is needed to perform the service.

The first step as always is prayer; make sure this is something God wants you do. You will also obviously need to get approval and support from the pastoral staff.

The service is organized as an introduction, the 7 shadows, then a closing time of confession and communion. During each of the shadows there is a reading from the Old Testament, the New Testament, and the gospel event, followed by a reflection, extinguishing a candle, a time of silent meditation, and then a song. As each candle is extinguished, the lights in the church should also be dimmed, until it is completely dark (thus this service is best done in the evening, after the sun goes down). The last song is a solo done in the dark, then there is a loud noise (e.g. a cymbol or gong) and the lights are turned on. Then there is a final reading. This is followed by an invitation to the congregation to nail their sins to a cross and take communion.

You need 4 readers, which are designated as R1,R2,R3,R4. R1 does the readings of Jesus, R2 does the narration, R3 is the voice of Peter, the disciples, and Jewish leaders, R4 is various other voices. I think it is best if a male reader is used for R1 and R3. RF is the person who introduces the service and does the reflections, which can either be a pastor or lay leader. Either this person or a pastor can lead the final communion. The readers will need to practice together several times beforehand to work out the timing. They do not need to memorize their lines, but they do need to have their timing and pronounciation down so that the dialogue flows smoothly. During the service there are just the 4 readers side by side up front, with the RF and musicians to the side. This is mainly a service for listening and meditating on the words, but to make it a little more visually interesting there are suggestions in the notes for variations in the readers positions.

You will need a worship leader, possibly multiple musicians if you want full instrumental backing. You need someone to sing the solo "Were You There". You need a gong or cymbol for the loud noise, which either a musician or the RF should strike.

You will need several people behind the scenes, and be sure to thank and recognize these unheralded workers:

Supplies that will be needed beforehand: