Good Friday Tenebrae Service

The Light

The sanctuary should have low lighting. Scripture readers may need a penlight or flashlight. There is no prelude or opening hymn. Ten unlit candles are placed in the front of the worship space. The presider enters from the rear, carrying a tall lighted candle (the Christ candle) and places it in a stand located in the midst of the assembly. An intergenerational group of ten people come forward and retrieve the candles from the rostrum, go to the Christ candle, light their candles, and then replace the candles on the rostrum.

Responsive Reading and Prayer


Jesus Christ is the light of the world.


A light no darkness can extinguish.


O God of unchanging power and light, look with mercy on your people.


Bring your salvation to us all, so that the world may see your light.


In Jesus’ name, Amen.

The Readings and Psalms

Reading 1: The Lamentation of the Prophet Jeremiah: Lamentations 1:1–14 
                  or Lamentations 1:1–2, 7–8, 11–12, 14; 3:19–23

Extinguish the first candle.

Psalm: Psalm 22 or Psalm 71

Extinguish the second candle.

Prayer offered in the tone of the two scripture texts above

Extinguish the third candle.

Reading 2: The Betrayal: Mark 14:43–50

Extinguish the fourth candle.

Psalm: Psalm 27 or Psalm 51

Extinguish the fifth candle.

Period of Silent Prayer

Extinguish the sixth candle.

Reading 3: The Letter to the Hebrews: Hebrews 4:14—5:10

Extinguish the seventh candle.

Reading 4: Ezekiel 36:24–28 or Hosea 6:1–6

Extinguish the eighth candle.

Prayer for Knowing God

Extinguish the ninth candle.

Reading 5: John 12:23–28 or John 8:21–30 or John 3:14–17

Extinguish the tenth candle and all other unnecessary lights.

The Sacrifice of Christ

The congregation kneels in silence. After a period of reflection, the presider goes to the Christ candle, removes it from the stand and processes to the front with the lit candle. Turn to face the congregation.

Scripture Reading: Mark 15: 33–39


The presider blows out the Christ candle and leads the congregation in silence out of the sanctuary.