with Abbot Gueranger, O.S.B. in the Liturgical Year
Wednesday of Holy Week (Spy Wednesday)
At Rome, the Station for today is in the basilica of St. Mary Major. Let us compassionate with our holy Mother, whose heart is filled with poignant grief at the foresight of the Sacrifice which is preparing.
1. St. Matt. xxvi. 15
2. Ibid. xxvii. Zach. xi. 12
The Office of Tenebrae
The Form of the Night Office
The Office of Matins and Lauds, for the last three days of Holy Week differs, in many things, from that of the rest of the year. All is sad and mournful, as though it were a funeral service: nothing could more emphatically express the grief that now weighs down the heart of our holy mother the Church. Throughout all the Office of Thursday, Friday, and Saturday, she forbids herself the use of those formulas of joy and hope, wherewith, on all other days, she begins her praise of God...
There is placed in the sanctuary, near the altar, a large triangular candlestick holding fifteen candles. These candles, and the six that are on the altar, are of yellow wax, as in the office for the dead. At the end of each psalm or canticle, one of these fifteen candles is extinguished; but the one which is placed at the top of the triangle is lighted. During the singing of the Benedictus, at Lauds; the six candles on the altar are also put out. Then the master of ceremonies takes the lighted candle from the triangle, and holds it upon he altar, on the epistle side, while the choir repeats the antiphon after the canticle: after which he hides it behind the altar during the recitation of the Miserere and the prayer which follows the psalm. As soon as this prayer is finished, a noise is made with the seats and stalls in the choir, which continues until the candle is brought from behind the altar and shows, by its light, that the Office of Tenebrae is over..
Following is an audio (the screen remains blank throughout) which illustrates what is meant by "a noise is made with the seats and stalls in the choir"...
This pandemonium which signals the end of Tenebrae is called the strepitus, which is Latin for "great noise." :)
* Definition/Etymology of Tenebrae: Tenebrae \Ten"e*br[ae]\, noun. Latin expression, plural, darkness.