The Office of Matins, the first of the Canonical Hours of the Roman Church, was sung very early in the morning, in complete darkness, followed at daybreak by the Office of Lauds. These two services were the offices of Tenebræ (darkness).
In Matins during Holy Week the church would be illuminated by only fifteen candles (excluding the altar candles) representing Christ, the eleven apostles and the three Marys. As the service proceeded, these candles would be extinguished one by one, until only the tallest candle (representing Christ) remained.
Matins was divided into three sections, called nocturns. Each nocturn contained the recitation of three psalms, followed by three lessons alternating with three responsories. In his 1585 collection, Officium Hebdomadæ Sanctæ (Office of Holy Week), Victoria set the lessons, from the Lamentations, for the first nocturn of each day, and the responsories for the second and third nocturns, leaving the remainder for chanting.
Victoria Tenebræ Responsories is The Huddersfield Singers’ first CD. It is a live recording, taken from the Spring 1998 concert, and features alternating music and readings in order to be as authentic to the original style of performance as possible. Although a live recording, the CD has been produced to a very high standard of sound quality. Brief samples of the disc may be heard on this Web site (on the Hear us now! page), although at a very much reduced sound quality.
Copies of the CD are available from the choir at a price of £12 each. For more details please email the Webmaster.