Liturgy of Tenebrae

Wed., March 31, 2021 7:30pm ·


Rev. Msgr.W. Ronald Jameson, Cathedral Rector, presides at the Liturgy of Tenebrae, joined by members of St. Matthew's Schola Cantorum, at 7:30pm on Wednesday of Holy Week, March 31. Join us in the Cathedral for the ancient, time-honored Liturgy of Tenebræ, or attend via the Cathedral livestream. The Cathedral opens at 6:45pm for Tenebrae (no reservations; 150-person maximum capacity).

Schedule for Wednesday of Holy Week

  • 11:30am The Cathedral opens.
  • 11:30am | Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament
  • 12:10pm | Mass (The Cathedral closes immediately after Mass.)
  • 6:45pm The Cathedral reopens.
  • 7:30pm | Liturgy of Tenebrae (Schola quartet) (The Cathedral closes immediately after the service.)
    Cathedral YouTube | Program
  • Note: Penn Parking Garage remains open to 9:00pm.


Watch the Tenebrae service livestream on the Cathedral YouTube channel.

From our Music Director —

Tenebrae: A Holy Week Tradition Resurrected

We were truly heartened and humbled by the number of people who told us how much they missed the Tenebrae service last year when COVID precautions eliminated the possibility of presenting the service safely. The service had become a cherished tradition over the years and many were disappointed that they were not able to join with the hundreds of faithful who attend and participate. We are delighted to announce that a modified form of the Tenebrae will be celebrated on Wednesday of Holy Week again this year.  While the assembly will not be invited to sing out loud, all of the traditional elements will be present including lamentations, readings and motets with a quartet of singers, cantor, lector and lamenter.  As for all liturgies of Holy Week, masks and social distancing will be required of those who attend, and there will be a limit of 150 persons. We hope you can join us in-person or by livestream.

The Ancient Rite of Tenebrae at St. Matthew's

The Cathedral’s Tenebrae (Latin for "darkness") is a modern adaptation and hybrid liturgy that combines elements of a venerable Holy Week adaptation of the Liturgy of the Hours dating from the 9th century. It began as a series of three vigils anticipating Holy Thursday, Good Friday and Holy Saturday. Each evening psalms were prayed, and readings proclaimed or chanted. The Lamentations of the Prophet Jeremiah were chanted on all three evenings and have become the most identifiable and memorable musical element of the current adaptation.

At St. Matthew’s Cathedral, the Schola Cantorum led the Tenebrae on the Wednesday of Holy Week beginning in the early 1980s under the direction of Dr. Gerald Muller. It has become one of the most beloved ways parishioners and the local community have chosen to mark the beginning of their Paschal Triduum observances. We look forward to welcoming you back to the Cathedral to join us in this rich and powerful prayer experience.