A Service of Shadows
It is the direct antithesis of a Service of Lessons and Carols. That joyous occasion consists of scripture readings followed by carols, and a sharing of candlelight from one congregant to another.
At Tenebrae, there is a lighted candleabra, and a cross draped with a black robe and crown of thorns. A lesson is read, followed by a song or hymn. After each, one candle is extinguished, until the entire church is left in darkness. The congregation then leaves in silence and darkness. Even out in the parking, no one would profane the darkness. Each got in their cars and drove away.
And darkness covered the earth for the space of three hours.