and his face to be spit upon: Give us grace to accept joyfully the sufferings
of the present time, confident of the glory that shall be revealed;
through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord, who lives and reigns
with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
Apart from the chant of the Lamentations (in which each verse is introduced by a letter of the Hebrew alphabet), the most conspicuous feature of the service is the gradual extinguishing of candles and other lights in the church until only a single candle, considered a symbol of our Lord, remains. Toward the end of the service this candle is hidden, typifying the apparent victory of the forces of evil. At the very end, a loud noise (strepitus) is made, symbolizing the earthquake at the time of the resurrection (Matthew 28:2), the hidden candle is restored to its place, and by its light all depart in silence.
It is highly appropriate for Tenebrae to be celebrated on Wednesday evening in Holy Week, in order that the proper liturgies of Maundy Thursday and Good Friday may find their place as the principal services of those days. By drawing upon material from each of the former three offices of Tenebrae, this service provides an extended meditation upon, and a prelude to, the events in our Lord’s life between the Last Supper and the Resurrection.