The Tenebrae Offices


Palm Sunday ended we have arrived at Holy Week. The ancient and beautiful offices of Tenebrae are around the corner. Both the modern Roman Rite and the Prayer Book tradition claim to have been reformed on the basis of primitive Christian practice. Sadly, none of that is true. Had the reformers of the 16th and 20-ieth century really reformed the Office on the primitive Church they would have looked a lot like … well … like the Tenebrae Offices. But they don’t.

In the Roman Rite the 1962 version of the Breviary presents us with a severely mutilated version if the traditional Divine Office but still retaining several basic features of what has since (at least) the fourth century characterized the Divine Office. In the Book of Common Prayer and in the (Roman) Liturgy of the Hours even these traces have been carefully erased.

Gregory DiPippo has written a series of articles about the reforms enforced upon the Roman Church during the 1950-ies where reformers were determined to mutilate the Office as much as was Thomas Cranmer in the 16th century. The beauty and profundity of the ancient Office – surely characterized by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit – shines through very clearly in the ancient Office: Tenebrae and the Divine Officce of the Triduum.

Gregory Wassen +

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About Father Gregory

I am an Anglican Catholic Priest, currently residing in Orvelte, the Netherlands.
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