Holy Week at St Michael's Episcopal features teens and a sunrise Easter vigil

BRATTLEBORO — The Holy Week tradition of Tenebrae - or the Service of Shadows - originated in the early centuries of Christianity, combining the monastic services of both matins (after midnight) and lauds (at dawn).

While in the past this mid–Holy Week service has been presented by adults of St. Michael's Episcopal Church and area musicians, this year all the Tenebrae texts will be read by St. Michael's teenagers: Julia Fedoruk, Tori MacKay, Tian Ragle, Zadie Olmstead, Julian Segal, and Asa Taggert.

This teen involvement follows on the heels of parish youth producing St. Michael's first online Christmas pageant three months ago.

The Tenebrae program includes poetry by Lynn Ungar, Thich Nhat Hanh, Stella Nesanovich, Ellery Akers, Ross Gay, Brother Richard Hendrick, Danusha Laméris, Jan Richardson, and Madeleine L'Engle.

Jonah Johnson, 16, will sing “By the Waters of Babylon” and Jayne Fritz, 20, will sing “There Is a Balm in Gilead.”

The service will be accompanied by music of Giovanni Gabrieli performed by David Runnion on cello, by chants of the Taizé community with Christopher Wesolowski on guitar and tenor vocals, and by Gabriel Faure's “Pie Jesu” performed by Margery McCrum.

The Rev. Mary Lindquist will offer the Benediction.

“Tenebrae is the origin of Evening Prayers and Morning Prayers in the Anglican Communion,” explains coordinator Craig Hammond. “In that spirit and faithful to the contemplative nature of Holy Week, we offer this evening as a contemporary, reverent and prayerful time for all.”

Holy Week begins March 28, Palm Sunday, with two services, at 8 and 10:15 a.m., remembering Jesus' triumphal entry into Jerusalem. The Tenebrae on Wednesday, March 31 is at 7 p.m. A Maundy Thursday service at 6 p.m. commemorates Jesus' Last Supper and New Commandment.

“This will involve sharing a meal together from our various homes, blessing the food as an Agape meal, and speaking together about the scripture for the day,” says Rector Lindquist.

The following day, Good Friday, features the traditional noon Good Friday liturgy from the Book of Common Prayer and a new offering: a 7 p.m. Stations of the Cross service with music, images, and prayer.

Holy Saturday at 9 a.m. will see a simple, brief service commemorating the waiting at the tomb of Jesus.

Finally, on Easter, April 4, in addition to the 8 and 10:15 a.m. services, all are welcome to a 5:30 a.m. sunrise Easter Vigil on Zoom, where several St. Michael's choir members will sing from outside their homes while the sun rises.

“We'll bless the new fire of Easter, tell the ancient stories of God's people, and witness the first sunrise of the Easter season,” Lindquist said.

As with all 2021 Holy Week events at St. Michael's, Lindquist adds, “This will be a Zoom gathering format so we will be able to see one another - if you have your camera on - and hope to share sunrises from our various locations.”