Definition of Tenebrae in US English:


plural noun

  • (in the Roman Catholic Church) matins and lauds for the last three days of Holy Week, at which candles are successively extinguished. Several composers have set parts of the office to music.

    • ‘Give him a Latin text, whether of the Mass or the Tenebrae responsories, and he seems at once able to tap a vein of profound yet simple music that embodies the words.’
    • ‘On Wednesday night it was the service of Tenebrae at church.’
    • ‘On Good Friday, there is a Tenebrae Service at 7pm.’
    • ‘Matins and Lauds were often combined; on the last three days of Holy Week this combined Office was called Tenebrae.’
    • ‘The Tenebrae church service last night was really moving.’


Latin, literally ‘darkness’.