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Friday, April 22, 2011

the streptius

the church is in complete darkness, as the lit Christ candle has been carried out of the sanctuary.  during the singing of "were you there?", we hear a loud crash at the altar.  this is the streptius, which occurs at the end of the tenebrae service.  someone (usually a confirmand who assists with the removal of artifacts during the course of the service) raises a hymnal a few inches above the altar, then slams the book down to create a definitive closing sound, acknowledging the sealed tomb.  the sacrifice is complete.

as a child, this act both intrigued and frightened me.  you never knew when the book would slam down, and it was sometimes a game to see who would jump when it happened.  sometimes, you can anticipate it by watching for the shadowy figure lifting the book up.  when i was in confirmation, i got my own chance to slam the hymnal down.

the boy has been attending tenebrae services for a few years now.  the streptius is also his favorite part of the service.  and every year, he makes fun of me when i jump when the book slams down.
image courtesy of


  1. Give me a heads up next year and remind me of your service. Trinity hasn't done a Tenebrae service for years:( I miss it so much.

  2. i'm sorry to hear that. i assumed they still did it. our service is always 7:30. we'd love to have you!


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