The Divine Office. Evening Prayer (Vespers)

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The Divine Office, the seven times daily prayer of the Christian Church, includes one prayer hour that is used throughout the Christian world - Evening Prayer or as it is often called, vespers. This Powerpoint Presentation provides a brief description of its forms and organisation. More detailed descriptions are available through each Church denomination.

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The Divine Office. Evening Prayer (Vespers)

  1. 1. © Elizabeth Sheppard STB 2013
  2. 2. Evening Prayer (Vespers) is … The Evening Prayer of the whole Church  prayed in community or in public, worldwide  a daily offering of praise and thanks for God’s daily blessings, gifts, and grace  a time for recollection and offering  a time for resolving to do better  a time for resting in God’s presence  Vespers I of Sunday are sung on Saturday evening  Vespers II of Sundays are sung on Sunday evening  a particular Christian prayer liturgy, with set form, texts and music, customarily candlelit, sometimes with a procession
  3. 3. Vespers may be … Monastic  celebrated in an Abbey or Monastery or Convent Church by religious sisters or brothers, and led by an Abbess, Abbot or congregational music director Cathedral  celebrated in a Cathedral by diocesan clergy, e.g. a Dean, a Bishop, an Archbishop, or a Diocesan Priest, with Cathedral Chapter members and Cathedral parishioners Canonical  celebrated in a Parish Church by lay people: may be led by a Parish Priest, an Assistant Priest, a Deacon, or a Cantor Ecumenical  Celebrated in an agreed Church venue by members of different Christian denominations who wish to pray together, and jointly led by clergy responsible for local ecumenical prayer and dialogue, or their authorized delegates
  4. 4. Vespers includes … Set texts, readings and music for each liturgical day Approved translations from Hebrew, Greek, and Latin Approved Church Publications for Vespers (e.g. Anglican Evening Prayer, the Liturgy of the Hours, Divine Office) Approved Vespers music, which may change each day, and is published by each Church in its liturgical books. New Evening Prayer / Vespers music is selected by music committees Set Monastic, Cathedral, and Canonical forms of Vespers prescribed by each Church for monastic, cathedral and lay use An agreed Ecumenical form for use by ecumenical gatherings, agreed by Churches in consultation, and promoted by Church leaders
  5. 5. Monastic Vespers is … Prayed by monks or nuns in Abbeys or Monasteries  has a Monastic form suited to religious life  is one of the seven daily Church Prayer Offices  is sung alternately by two groups led by two Cantors, in an approved modal form of ecclesiastical chant  requires chant training, Cantors to lead responses, and an organist who can support tuning without dominating  an ancient traditional liturgy that includes set Hymns, Antiphons, Psalms, Prayers, Readings, Responsories, a Canticle, Doxologies, and a Blessing  Monastic liturgical books usually provide two forms of Sunday Vespers. Vespers I of Sunday are sung on Saturday evening, and Vespers II are sung on Sunday evening
  6. 6. Cathedral Vespers is Prayed in a Cathedral by Diocesan clergy and Cathedral Chapter members  has a Cathedral Vespers form suited to Diocesan life  chanted responsorially  provides training and practice in the forms of chant  led by trained clerical or lay Cantors  an ancient traditional liturgy that includes set Hymns, Antiphons, Psalms, Prayers, Readings, Responsories, a Canticle, Doxologies, and a Blessing.
  7. 7. Canonical Vespers is Prayed in a Parish Church by Parish clergy and parishioners  sung or chanted with Simple Psalm Tones  an ancient Office liturgy which, according to the Canon Law of several Churches, must always include music  in a Canonical Parish form faithful to the spirit and teachings of each Parish Church, and adapted to the needs of lay people  an ancient traditional liturgy that includes set Hymns, Antiphons, Psalms, Prayers, Readings, Responsories, a Canticle, Doxologies, and a Blessing
  8. 8. Canonical Vespers Has texts, music and liturgical forms selected by each Parish Church community  Clergy, parishioners, and their music staff review the range of available Vespers forms, texts, and music  The texts, music and liturgical forms of Canonical Vespers are chosen with the consent of parishioners  Vespers liturgies may (with the permission of local Church authorities) be adapted to the local culture of each Parish community, in order to promote the faith  Innovative Vespers texts, music and liturgical forms may not be imposed by the clergy without parishioners’ approval and consent
  9. 9. Ecumenical Vespers is Prayed by gathered Christians from many Churches, led by representatives of each Church present  includes common texts of the traditional Vespers psalms and hymns: music may not be omitted  has an Ecumenical form faithful to the common Creed, doctrine and customs of the ecumenical Church, suited to laity  conforms to the ancient ecumenical Vespers liturgical form found in the earliest Church Councils, that includes traditional Hymns, Antiphons, responsorial Psalms, Prayers, Readings, Responsories, a Canticle, Doxologies, and a Blessing
  10. 10. Preparing Evening Prayer (Vespers)Consult with Clergy & Music Directors Look up these references:  The Liturgy of the Hours for daily (Proper) texts  Chant source books for chant tones  Hymn books for hymn texts and tunes  Your own Church’s guidelines on Evening Prayer / Vespers  Adaptation guidelines for non-Western forms Seek guidance from:  Parish and Cathedral Clergy  Local Religious Orders who pray Evening Prayer / Vespers  Your Church’s Liturgical or Worship Committees  Church Libraries and Schools  Cathedral Music Ministers  Parish Music Ministers
  11. 11. Liturgical & Sacred Music Commissions Church Music Committees are appointed by all Churches These Committees consult with Church leaders, clergy, liturgists and musicians to govern Church worship and prayer forms Prayer texts, rules and music selections are approved by Church leaders after consultation with worship Committees New Vespers texts, rules and music are commissioned for e.g.  Vespers before a Memorial Service or Church Feast  Vespers for the Consecration or Installation of a Church Leader  Vespers for the Dedication of a new Cathedral or Church
  12. 12. Evening Prayer (Vespers) is The Evening Prayer of the whole Church  prayed in Community or in public  a daily offering of praise and thanks for God’s blessings, gifts, and grace  a time for recollection and offering  a time for resolving to do better  a time for resting in God’s presence  a particular liturgical form of Christian prayer, with a set structure, texts and music
  13. 13. Vespers Online … is one of God’s gifts to the Church in this age can be placed on your Parish or Cathedral Website if a link to an approved Evening Prayer / Vespers website is provided can unify and strengthen your local Church’s intercession and praise of God for his daily blessings, gifts and grace can gather your community in recollection each day, can reduce excessive worries and stress, and can strengthen your resolve to follow Christ, amend faults and do better enables Church communities to rest peacefully in God’s caring presence as we prepare for tomorrow together
  14. 14. Thanks be to God for the gift of Evening Prayer (Vespers) to the Churches

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