Jersey City, NJ – Tenebrae… No, the liturgical Tenebrae!

I received a good note from a reader…


JERSEY CITY – The Office of Tenebrae of Holy Thursday will be anticipated on Wednesday, March 23 at 7:30PM as part of this year’s schedule of Holy Week services at the historic downtown church of St. Anthony of Padua, located at Monmouth St. between 6th and 7th.

This ancient service generally referred to as the Holy Week Office of Shadows or Darkness consists of the Office of Matins and Lauds for Holy Thursday, Good Friday and Holy Saturday. The name derives from the Latin meaning of Tenebrae which means “shadows.” It is also referred to as “Christ’s Funeral.”

As the name suggests, the service is conducted in a darkened church while the choir chants Psalms, Lamentations, Responsories and Lessons. After the completion of each Psalm one candle is extinguished from the “hearse” holding fifteen candles gradually reducing the lighting throughout the service. The six altar candles are put out during the Benedictus, and then any remaining lights in the church. The last candle is hidden, and the service ends with the strepitus (Latin for “great noise”) symbolizing the earthquake that followed Christ’s death. This beautiful and moving service is very rarely experienced in parish churches.

The resident choir, Cantantes in Cordibus will lead the Gregorian chant and other musical settings by Allegri. Its director, Maestro Simone Ferraresi, studied at the Conservatory of Music in Ferrara, Italy where he earned his degree with highest honors; at the Academy of Music and Performing Arts in Vienna he studied with world renowned pianist and musicologist Paul Badura-Skoda. Maestro Ferraresi specialized in interpretation of classical composers; at the Royal Academy of Music in London, where he was awarded the Diploma of the Royal Academy of Music – the highest examinable award given by the Royal Academy. He was also awarded three special prizes for best performance in the final recital. He is the founder and artistic director of the Ferrara International Piano Festival.

St. Anthony’s Church is listed on the State and National Registers of Historic Sites. The church built in the Victorian Gothic Style is a pristine example of a church untouched by modern elements and remains a true example of Roman Catholic aesthetic rarely seen today. The church parking lot is located on 6th St. between Coles and Monmouth Street and is easily accessible from the Grove Street PATH, the Newport PATH and Light Rail stop.

Through the generous support of Very Rev. Canon Joseph Urban, Pastor of St. Anthony’s, this is the first time Tenebrae will be available at St. Anthony’s. We invite everyone to attend this moving service during the most important and significant week of the Liturgical Year. Please visit the parish website at for more information about the other traditional services during Holy Week.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. Mary Jane says:

    This is awesome! It’s great to hear about other parishes having Tenebrae during Holy Week.

    At our FSSP parish (Mater Dei in Irving, TX) we are also anticipating the Office of Tenebrae of Holy Thursday on Wednesday March 23rd at 7:30PM. We will sing Allegri’s Miserere Mei Deus as well. On Good Friday we will anticipate the Office of Tenebrae of Holy Saturday (also beginning at 7:30pm). Most of the responsories we will sing on Good Friday will be the polyphonic versions of the responsories (rather than the Gregorian Chant versions). All are welcome to attend.

  2. JonPatrick says:

    Only ever been to a Tenebrae service in an Episcopal church – never seen it done in a Catholic church which is too bad because it is very moving.

  3. Gregorius says:

    If only laymen could officiate tenebrae… I could organize it at my parish

  4. momoften says:

    I can not say enough how moving Tenebrae is. Beg your pastor to do it, if not this year then next. We always done it with our youth(altar boys) chanting it, and they *LOVE* it!!!!

  5. Jack Orlando says:

    Last Holy Week I attended all three of the anticipated Tenebrae at Santissima Trinità dei Pellegrini, Rome. They did my soul good. Where else on the face of the Earth, or at least in the USA, can I find these?

  6. Imrahil says:

    As to what the dear Gregorius said,

    if there is no clergymen to organize the Tenebrae… can laymen really not?

    After all, it’s just the Divine Office.

    They’d have to leave out all the Dominus vobiscums, of course.

  7. Gulielmus says:

    The Cathedral of St Matthew in DC has always held Tenebrae the Wednesday evening of Holy Week, I believe at 7:00 pm. In the 70s it was sparsely attended, but it’s become very popular. It’s both beautiful and deeply moving– the silence as all exit!

  8. Healingrose1202 says:

    Is it common to have rose petals falling from above after the strepitus?

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