The Service of Tennebrae is a dark service. The word itself comes from Latin, and means “darkness”. The form of service which began in the Middle Ages, consists of a cross of candles lit before the service. At the start of the service the church lights are switched off, and one candle at a time is extinguished after each of the readings recalling the abandonment of Jesus by his friends and the encroaching threat of death. Finally, only one shining candle remains, signifying the light of Christ.
Then this last candle is extinguished, while sounds of chaos rattled the darkness, symbolizing the apparent victory of the forces of evil and darkness. After a period of utter darkness and silence, the Christ-candle is re-ignited, and restored on the altar. This reminds us that though the darkness thought it had won the battle over good, it had not, as Christ rose on the third day. This service will be less than an hour in duration.