March 28, 2018

6:00 pm

Based on the monastic prayer service of vigils, Tenebrae is a simple, yet powerful choral service sung by the Choir of Men and Boys.

Tenebrae is a Latin word meaning “shadows”, and begins with lit candles which, one by one, are extinguished until we are in darkness. The service is entirely sung by the choir, and the congregation is present to meditate and reflect, see the evening light flicker and fade through the colored glass, and hear the choir sing music of loss, yearning, peace, and hope.

The choral music offered is by William Byrd and Francis Poulenc, two men who were outsiders in their own communities and for whom the texts of these pieces had particular resonance.  Byrd was a Roman Catholic living in Elizabeth’s Protestant England, and it is widely known that his anthem Civitas Sancti Tui with its plaintive repetition of Jerusalem Jerusalem,  is Byrd’s personal yearning for freedom of religious expression.

Francis Poulenc enjoyed a career as a pianist and composer before the death of a close friend rekindled his zeal for religious faith as a gay man.   The four motets, with texts from the Bible that focus on loss, alienation, and betrayal offer a uniquely personal point of view with the Passion.  The motets were finished only a few months before the Nazi Occupation of Paris.

This service lasts one hour and is free and open to the public.



Grace Cathedral




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