Courtesy of Dom Gueranger....
THE OFFICE OF TENEBRAE.
On this and the two following days, the Church anticipates the Night-Office; she celebrates it on the previous evening of each day, and this in order that the Faithful may be present at it. The Matins and Lauds of Maundy Thursday are, therefore, said this afternoon. The Faithful should make every effort to assist at this solemn Office, seeing it is on their account that the Church has changed her usual hours. As to the merit there is in joining in it, there can be no doubt, but that it is to be preferred to any private devotions. The surest means for obtaining favors from God, and winning him to our requests, is to approach him through the Church. And as regards the feelings of devotion wherewith we ought to celebrate the mysteries of these three great Days, the Offices of the Church are, ordinarily speaking, a surer and richer source than the Exercises of Piety composed by men. The soul that feeds on the words and ceremonies of the holy Liturgy, will be all the more disposed to profit by the private devotions she practices at home. The prayer of the Church will thus become the basis, whereon is built the edifice of Christian piety during these glorious Anniversaries of our Redemption; and we shall be imitating our forefathers who lived in the Ages of Faith, and who were such admirable Christians, because they lived the life of the Church, by means of the sacred Liturgy.
Fish Eaters also has an excellent article on Spy Wednesday.