Tenebrae (tĕnˈĕbrā) [key] [Lat., = darkness], in the Roman Catholic Church, ceremony performed on the Wednesday and following evenings of Holy Week. As the choir chants, a number of candles set on a hearse (a kind of candelabrum) are extinguished one by one until only one remains. The last candle is hidden behind the altar, and in the darkness a noise is made, symbolizing the convulsion of nature at the Crucifixion. The single lighted candle is then replaced on the hearse. The traditional plainsong for the ceremony is much esteemed.
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