This is a powerful, millennial friendly, holy week liturgy to put in your file for next Spring. If Tenebrae is new to you, you might think of it as a camp “cross-video”…only one that happens in your mind and with much more emotional impact.
It is an adaptation of the 8th century monastic service found in the Episcopal Book of Occasional Services. We kept what works best (candles, the growing darkness of the room, the chant and participation through responsive prayer.) However, we adapted it to utilize the benefits of technology and help it to fit our contemporary context (i.e. one evening rather than three mornings before sunup).
1. Because it uses projected Keynote slides for the readings, you can have the room actually and powerfully dark.
2. Rather than being lost in puzzling Lamentations readings, it tells the story of Jesus’ Passion completely through Old Testament messianic prophecy.
3. It has the opportunity to integrate modern sound (a terrific “earthquake” rumbles the room at the resurrection), and the best of contemporary hymnody (How Deep the Father’s Love) with the symbolism, participation, and chant. It is also quite flexible: You can use the included charts for your own cantor or play the included chant recordings. You can have your own soloist and use a backing track, or play the vocal version of the hymn within the slideshow. (You will still need candles, a table, snuffer, and a black hooded alb. You will also need a Mac with Keynote, screen, sound system, and a good rehearsal.)
4. It is clear enough and brief enough for children to remain engaged. We knew we had a winner the first time we used this. At the point of Christ’s death you could hear people quietly sobbing all over the nave. People stayed in the darkened church long after the service was over. We had to finally ask the last few to leave an hour later to lock up. As far as I can tell some 5-6k folk have attended this service.
If you use it, please shoot me an email with feedback and a photo or two if you can get one in the dark.