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Holy Saturday Office of Readings

Tenebrae is a Latin word meaning “shadows or darkness.” It designates a special form of prayer that is prayed by the Church on Good Friday and Holy Saturday. The service consists of the Office of Readings and Morning Prayer from the Liturgy of the Hours, the daily prayer of the Church. While for several centuries this form of prayer was understood to be the prayer of clergy and religious, the Second Vatican Council made it clear that it belongs to all the Church’s faithful:

“Wherever possible…groups of the faithful should celebrate the Liturgy of the Hours communally in church. This especially applies to parishes…. The laity must learn above all how in the liturgy they are adoring God the Father in spirit and in truth; they should bear in mind that through public worship and prayer they reach all humility and can contribute significantly to the salvation of the whole world.”-General Instruction of the Liturgy of the Hours #s 21, 27

The Tenebrae Service is dramatically marked by the extinguishing of the seven candles placed in a candle stand in the sanctuary. Originally, the service began before dawn, with candles lighting the darkness. As daylight became stronger, fewer candles were needed, and one by one they were put out. The gradual extinguishing of light, however, took on symbolic meaning associated with these solemn days of the Triduum. Over the centuries, as the Church commemorated the death of Our Lord Jesus Christ, the decreasing candlelight became a sign of the apparent triumph of evil and of the apparent failure of God’s plan of salvation.

At the great Easter Vigil, we celebrate the victory of Christ over sin and evil. The light of the one Paschal Candle, the symbol of the risen Christ, is passed from one to another in the darkness of night. This growing light, which shatters the dark, signifies the good over evil and the spread of the reign of God.

Adapted from Tenebrae: Office of Readings and Morning Prayer for Good Friday and Holy Saturday, prepared by the Liturgical Commission of the Archdiocese of New York, 1990

Holy Thursday Office of Readings

Celebrant: Lord, open my lips. (on lips)
All: And my mouth will proclaim your praise.



Reader: Come, let us worship Christ, the Son of God, who redeemed us with his blood.

Psalm 95

Reader: Come, let us sing to the Lord
and shout with joy to the Rock who saves us.

Let us greet Him with praise and thanksgiving and sing joyful songs to the Lord.

All: Come, let us worship Christ, the Son of God, who redeemed us with his blood.

Reader: The Lord is our God, the mighty God, the great king over all the gods.

He holds in His hand the depths of the earth
and the highest mountains as well.
He made the sea, it belongs to Him,
the dry land too, for it was formed by His hands.

All: Come, let us worship Christ, the Son of God, who redeemed us with his blood.

Reader: Come, then, let us bow down and worship, bending the knee before the Lord, our Maker.

For He is our God and we are His people, the flock He shepherds.

All: Come, let us worship Christ, the Son of God, who redeemed us with his blood.

Reader: Today, listen to the voice of the Lord: “Do not grow stubborn,as your fathers did in the wilderness,
when at Meriba and Massah they challenged me and provoked me,
although they had seen all of my works.

All: Come, let us worship Christ, the Son of God, who redeemed us with his blood.

Reader: Forty years I endured that generation.
I said, ‘They are a people whose hearts go astray

and they do not know my ways. So I swore in my anger,
they shall not enter into my rest.’”

All: Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit,

as it was in the beginning,
is now, and will be forever. Amen

All: Come, let us worship Christ, the Son of God, who redeemed us with his blood.

Pange Lingua

1. Pange lingua gloriosi

Corporis mysterium,

Sanguinisque pretiosi,

Quem in mundi pretium

Fructus ventris generosi,

Rex effudit gentium.

2. Nobis datus, nobis natus

Ex intacta Virgine

Et in mundo conversatus,

Sparso verbi semine,

Sui moras incolatus

Miro clausit ordine.

3. In supremae nocte coenae

Recumbens cum fratribus,

Observata lege plene

Cibis in legalibus,

Cibum turbae duodenae

Se dat suis manibus

4. Verbum caro, panem verum

Verbo carnem efficit:

Fitque sanguis Christi merum,

Et si sensus deficit,

Ad firmandum cor sincerum

Sola fides sufficit.

5. Tantum ergo Sacramentum

Veneremur cernui:

Et antiquum documentum

Novo cedat ritui:

Praestet fides supplementum

Sensuum defectui.

6. Genitori, Genitoque

Laus et iubilatio,

Salus, honor, virtus quoque

Sit et benedictio:

Procedenti ab utroque

Compar sit laudatio.



Antiphon 1:  I am worn out with crying, with longing for my God.

Psalm 69:2-22,30-37

I am consumed with zeal for your house.

They offered him a mixture of wine and gall(Matthew 27:34)

Antiphon 1:  I am worn out with crying, with longing for my God.


 Save me, O God,
for the waters have risen to my neck.

I have sunk into the mud of the deep
and there is no foothold.
I have entered the waters of the deep
and the waves overwhelm me.

I am wearied with all my crying,
my throat is parched.
My eyes are wasted away
from looking for my God.

More numerous than the hairs on my head
are those who hate me without cause.
Those who attack me with lies
are too much for my strength.

How can I restore
what I have never stolen?
O God, you know my sinful folly;
my sins you can see.

Let not those who hope in you be put to shame
through me, Lord of hosts:
let not those who seek you be dismayed
through me, God of Israel.

It is for you that I suffer taunts,
that shame covers my face,
that I have become a stranger to my brothers,
an alien to my own mother’s sons.
I burn with zeal for your house
and taunts against you fall on me.

When I afflict my soul with fasting
they make it a taunt against me.
When I put on sackcloth and mourning
then they make me a byword,
the gossip of men at the gates,
the subject of drunkard’s songs.  Glory…

Antiphon 1:  I am worn out with crying, with longing for my God.

1st Candle (lower left) is extinguished. Brief period of silence.

Antiphon 2:  I needed food and they gave me gall; I was parched with thirst and they gave me vinegar.

This is my prayer to you,
my pray for your favor.
In your great love, answer me, O God,
with your help that never fails;
rescue me from sinking in the mud,
save me from my foes.

Save me from the waters of the deep
lest the waves overwhelm me.
Do not let the deep engulf me
nor death close its mouth on me.

Lord, answer, for your love is kind;
in your compassion, turn towards me.
Do not hide your face from your servant;
answer me quickly for I am in distress.
Come close to my soul and redeem me;
ransom me pressed by my foes.

You know how they taunt and deride me;
my oppressors are all before you.
Taunts have broken my heart;
I have reached the end of my strength.
I looked in vain for compassion, for consolers;
not one could I find.

For food they gave me poison;
in my thirst they gave me vinegar to drink.  Glory…

Antiphon 2:  I needed food and they gave me gall; I was parched with thirst and they gave me vinegar.

2nd Candle (lower right) is extinguished. Brief period of silence.

Antiphon 3:  Seek the Lord and you will live.


As for me in my poverty and pain,
let your help, O God, lift me up.

I will praise God’s name with a song;
I will glorify him with thanksgiving.
A gift pleasing God more than oxen,
more than beasts prepared for sacrifice.

The poor when they see it will be glad
and God-seeking hearts will revive;
for the Lord listens to the needy
and does not spurn his servants in their chains.
Let the heavens and the earth give him praise,
the sea and all its living creatures.

For God will bring help to Zion
and rebuild the cities of Judah
and men shall dwell there in possession.
The sons of his servants shall inherit it;
those who love his name shall dwell there.  Glory…

Psalm Prayer: God our Father, to show the way of salvation, you chose that the standard of the cross should go before us, and you fulfilled the ancient prophecies in Christ’s Passover from death to life. Do not let us rouse your burning indignation by sin, but rather, through the contemplation of his wounds, make us burn with zeal for the honor of your Church and with grateful love for you.

Antiphon 3:  Seek the Lord and you will live.

3rd Candle (center left) is extinguished. Brief period of silence


From the letter to the Hebrews       4:14-5:10
Jesus Christ, the great high priest

Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast to our confession. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who has similarly been tested in every way, yet without sin. So let us confidently approach the throne of grace to receive mercy and to find grace for timely help.

Every high priest is taken from among men and made their representative before God, to offer gifts and sacrifices for sins. He is able to deal patiently  with the ignorant and erring, for he himself is beset by weakness and so, for this reason, must make sin offerings for himself as well as for the people. No one takes this honor upon himself but only when called by God, just as Aaron was.

In the same way, it was not Christ who glorified himself in becoming high priest, but rather the one who said to him:

  “You are my son;
    this day I have begotten you”;

just as he says in another place:  

  “You are a priest forever
    according to the order of Melchizedek.”

In the days when he was in the flesh, he offered prayers and supplications with loud cries and tears to the one who was able to save him from death,  and he was heard because of his reverence. Son though he was,  he learned obedience from what he suffered; and when he was made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him, declared by God high priest according to the order of Melchizedek.

Brief period of silence


From an Easter homily by Melito of Sardis, bishop
(Nn. 65-71: SC 123, 95-101)

The Lamb that was slain has delivered us from death and given us life

There was much proclaimed by the prophets about the mystery of the Passover: that mystery is Christ, and to him be glory for ever and ever. Amen.

For the sake of suffering humanity he came down from heaven to earth, clothed himself in that humanity in the Virgin’s womb, and was born a man. Having then a body capable of suffering, he took the pain of fallen man upon himself; he triumphed over the diseases of soul and body that were its cause, and by his Spirit, which was incapable of dying, he dealt man’s destroyer, death, a fatal blow.

He was led forth like a lamb; he was slaughtered like a sheep. He ransomed us from our servitude to the world, as he had ransomed Israel from the hand of Egypt; he freed us from our slavery to the devil, as he had freed Israel from the hand of Pharaoh. He sealed our souls with his own Spirit, and the members of our body with his own blood.

He is the One who covered death with shame and cast the devil into mourning, as Moses cast Pharaoh into mourning . He is the One that smote sin and robbed iniquity of offspring, as Moses robbed the Egyptians of their offspring. He is the One who brought us out of slavery into freedom, out of darkness into light, out of death into life, out of tyranny into an eternal kingdom; who made us a new priesthood, a people chosen to be his own for ever. He is the Passover that is our salvation.

It is he who endured every kind of suffering in all those who foreshadowed him. In Abel he was slain, in Isaac bound, in Jacob exiled, in Joseph sold, in Moses exposed to die. He was sacrificed in the Passover lamb, persecuted in David, dishonored in the prophets.

It is he who was made man of the Virgin, he who was hung on the tree; it is he who was buried in the earth, raised from the dead, and taken up to the heights of heaven. He is the mute lamb, the slain lamb born of Mary, the fair ewe. He was seized from the flock, dragged off to be slaughtered, sacrificed in the evening, and buried at night. On the tree no bone of his was broken; in the earth his body knew no decay. He is the One who rose from the dead, and who raised man from the depths of the tomb.  

Brief period of silence

Stand for Hymn


I flechan Yu’os ha tokcha’ hit, 

i Korason–ña ha guaiya hit. (repeat)

Håfa Jesus-­‐hu, i malago’-­‐mu 

gi dinilok-­‐mu nu i taotao?

Yanggen i sensen pat i anti-­‐ña, 

Yu’os lahi-­‐ña chule’i hao. (Refrain)

Guåhu magåhet lansan Lonhinos, 

kalåktos, inos, flumecha hao.

Tåya’ dumulok i Korason-­‐mu 

na i patgon-­‐mu ni’ guåhu ha’. (Refrain)



Antiphon 1:  Look, O Lord and see my suffering. Come quickly to my aid.

Psalm 80

Lord, come take care of your vineyard

Come, Lord, Jesus. (Revelation 22:20)

O shepherd of Israel, hear us,
you who lead Joseph’s flock,
shine forth from your cherubim throne
upon Ephraim, Benjamin, Manasseh.
O Lord, rouse up your might,
O Lord, come to our help.

God of hosts bring us back;
let your face shine on us and we shall be saved.

Lord God of hosts, how long
will you frown on your people’s plea?
You have fed them with tears for their bread,
and abundance of tears for their drink.
You have made us the taunt of our neighbors,
our enemies laugh us to scorn.

God of hosts, bring us back;
let your face shine on us and we shall be saved.

You brought a vine out of Egypt;
to plant it you drove out the nations.
Before it you cleared the ground;
it took root and spread through the land.

The mountains were covered with its shadow,
the cedars of God with its boughs.
It stretched out its branches to the sea,
to the Great River it stretched out its shoots.

Then why have you broken down its walls?
It is plucked by all who pass by.
It is ravaged by the boar of the forest,
devoured by the beasts of the field.

God of hosts, turn again, we implore,
look down from heaven and see.
Visit the vine and protect it,
the vine your right hand has planted.
They have burnt it with fire and destroyed it.
May they perish at the frown of your face.

May your hand be on the man you have chosen,
the man you have given your strength.
And we shall never forsake you again;
give us life that we may call upon your name.

God of hosts, bring us back;
let your face shine on us and we shall be saved.  Glory…

Psalm Prayer: Lord God, eternal shepherd, you so tend the vineyard you planted that now it extends its branches even to the farthest coast. Look down on your Church and come to us. Help us remain in your Son as branches on the vine, that, planted firmly in your love, we may testify before the whole world to your great power working everywhere.

Antiphon 1:  Look, O Lord and see my suffering. Come quickly to my aid.

4th Candle (center right) is extinguished. Brief period of silence

Antiphon 2:  God is my savior; I trust in him and shall not fear.

Canticle  –  Isaiah 12:1-6 

Joy of God’s ransomed people

If anyone thrists, let him come to me and drink. (John 7:37)

I give you thanks, O Lord;
though you have been angry with me,
your anger has abated, and you have consoled me.

God indeed is my savior;
I am confident and unafraid.
My strength and my courage is the Lord,
and he has been my savior.

With joy you will draw water
at the fountain of salvation, and say on that day:
Give thanks to the Lord, acclaim his name;
among the nations make known his deeds,
proclaim how exalted is his name.

Sing praise to the Lord for his glorious achievement;
let this be known throughout all the earth.

Shout with exultation, O city of Zion,
for great in your midst
is the Holy One of Israel!  Glory…

Antiphon 2:  God is my savior; I trust in him and shall not fear.

5th Candle (top left) is extinguished. Brief period of silence

Antiphon 3:  The Lord has fed us with the finest wheat; he has filled us with honey from the rock. 

Psalm 81

Solemn renewal of the Covenant

See that no one among you has a faithless heart. (Hebrews 3:12)

Ring out your joy to God our strength,
shout in triumph to the God of Jacob.

Raise a song and sound the timbrel,
the sweet-sounding harp and the lute;
blow the trumpet at the new moon,
when the moon is full, on our feast.

For this is Israel’s law,
a command of the God of Jacob.
He imposed it as a rule on Joseph,
when he went out against the land of Egypt.

A voice I did not know said to me:
“I freed your shoulder from the burden;
your hands were freed from the load.
You called in distress and I saved you.

I answered, concealed in the storm cloud;
at the waters of Meribah I tested you.
Listen, my people, to my warning.
O Israel, if only you would heed!

Let there be no foreign god among you.
no worship of an alien god.
I am the Lord your God,
who brought you from the land of Egypt.
Open wide your mouth and I will fill it.

But my people did not heed my voice
and Israel would not obey,
so I left them in their stubbornness of heart
to follow their own designs.

O that my people would heed me,
that Israel would walk in my ways!
At once I would subdue their foes,
turn my hand against their enemies.

The Lord’s enemies would cringe at their feet
and their subjection would last for ever.
But Israel I would feed with finest wheat
and fill them with honey from the rock.”  Glory…

Psalm Prayer: Lord God, open our mouths to proclaim your glory. Help us to leave sin behind and to rejoice in professing your name 

Antiphon 3:  The Lord has fed us with the finest wheat; he has filled us with honey from the rock. 

6th candle (top right) is extinguished. Brief period of silence.

Third Reading: Hebrews 2:9-10

We see Jesus, who for a little while was made lower than the angels, now crowned with glory and honour because of the suffering of death, so that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone. It was fitting that God, for whom and through whom all things exist, in bringing many children to glory, should make the pioneer of their salvation perfect through sufferings.


BENEDICTUS(Canticle of Zechariah)

Antiphon: I have longed to eat this meal with you before I suffer.

While making the Sign of the Cross, we pray the following)

Blest be the God of Israel who comes to set us free

and raises up new hope for us: a Branch for David’s tree.

So have the prophets long declared that with a mighty arm

God would turn back our enemies and all who wish us harm


With promised mercy will God still the covenant recall,

the oath once sworn to Abraham from foes to save us all;

that we might worship without fear and offer lives of praise,

in holiness and righteousness to serve God all our days.

My child, as prophet of the Lord you will prepare the way,

to tell God’s people they are saved from sin’s eternal sway.

Then shall God’s mercy from on high shine forth and never cease

to drive away the gloom of death and lead us into peace.

Antiphon: I have longed to eat this meal with you before I suffer.

7th candle (center) is extinguished. Brief period of silence.


The Father anointed Christ with the Holy Spirit to proclaim forgiveness to those in bondage. Let us humbly call upon the eternal priest:

                   Lord, have mercy on us.

You went up to Jerusalem to suffer and so enter into your glory,
 – lead your Church into the Paschal feast of heaven.
You were lifted high on the cross and pierced by the soldier’s lance,
 – heal our wounds.

You made your cross the tree of life,
 – grant its fruit to those reborn into baptism.

On the cross, you forgave the repentant thief,
 – forgive us our sins.

Lord’s Prayer
Pater noster, qui es in cælis
Sanctificétur nomen tuum
Advéniat regnum tuum
Fiat volúntas tua
Sicut in cælo et in terra
Panem nostrum quotidiánum da nobis hódie Et dimítte nobis débita nostra
Sicut et nos dimíttimus debitóribus nostris Et ne nos indúcas in tentatiónem
Sed libera nos a malo


Love of you with our whole heart, Lord God, is holiness.

  Increase, then, your gifts of divine grace in us,

so that, as in your Son’s death,

  you made us hope for what we believe,

you may likewise, in his resurrection,

  make us come to you, our final end.

Who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,

  God for ever and ever. 

Final Blessing and Dismissal

All depart in silence