Tenebrae: Online Live Stream
April 08, 2020
Based on monastic prayer services, Tenebrae at Grace Cathedral is a simple, yet powerful choral service whose antecedents date to the fifth century. Tenebrae is a Latin word meaning “shadows,” and begins with lit candles which, one by one, are extinguished until we are in darkness. The words we hear are drawn from the Lamentations of Jeremiah, and from the Psalms.
Where other services emphasize multiple voices, the service of Tenebrae is sung entirely by the choir, with the congregation present to meditate and reflect on themes of yearning, peace, and hope. The choir sings four responsory motets by Francis Poulenc and a setting of Psalm 51 by Gregorio Allegri.
Part of a group of forward-thinking Parisian composers, Poulenc employed a wonderfully personal and expressive musical language. Later in life he converted to Catholicism, and we hear this language become intense and devotional in service of these dramatic fragments. Allegri’s Miserere mei, Deus is famously sung every year at the Tenebrae liturgy in the Sistine Chapel, for which it was composed. Its beautiful harmonies form a falsobordone, or decorated plainsong melody. A small group of singers, often positioned in a distant location, sing a soaring response to each verse.
A link to the live stream and a PDF of the service leaflet will be posted here a little before the service.
Free and open to all