Home > Worship Resources > Evening Prayer (Vespers)

 

In many times and places, dusk has been a time of prayer. Jews prayed in their synagogues at sunset as well as at other times each day. This Jewish pattern of prayer formed the basis of the Christian monastic “Daily Office,” with its prayers or “hours” at seven times each day. Anglican and Lutheran revisions of the Daily Office reduced the number of services to two — one for morning (Matins) and one for evening (Vespers or Evensong). Eventually, the evening service was given its present name, Evening Prayer.

Many elements of Evening Prayer come from the monastic prayer tradition. Evening Prayer may begin with an opening sentence of scripture and with the confession of sin. The Invitatory may include the canticle Phos Hilaron, an ancient hymn praising Christ at the lighting of lamps at sunset. The office continues with a selection from the Psalter (psalms were recited at every one of the offices, with the whole Psalter recited once a week), readings from Scriptures followed by canticles (typically the Magnificat or Nunc dimittis), the Apostles’ Creed, the Lord’s Prayer, a set of suffrages, one or more collects, and the dismissal. One of the two suffrages is a version of the litany in the Evening Office of Eastern Orthodox churches with images of evening and death. Evening Prayer may also include an office hymn or anthem, the General Thanksgiving, a Prayer of St. Chrysostom, and a concluding sentence of scripture.

Below, you will find two versions of Evening Prayer, a spoken version and a sung version. The music for the sung version is found in the Lutheran Book of Worship (1978). This is a short service that can be used in the home. The L designates a Leader and the C designates the Congregation assembled to worship (which might simply be your family).

Opening Versicles

Stand

L    The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light.
C    The light shines in the darkness and the darkness has not overcome it.
L    Those who dwelt in the land of deep darkness, on them has light shined.
C    We have beheld Christ’s glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father.
L    For to us a child is born, to us a Son is given.
C    In him was life, and the life was the light of man.

L    Jesus Christ is risen from the dead.
C    Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia!
L    We are illumined by the brightness of his rising.
C    Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia!
L    Death has no more dominion over us.
C    Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia!

L    Joyous light of glory:
C    and illumine your Church.
Of the immortal Father; heavenly, holy, blessed Jesus Christ.
We have come to the setting of the sun, and we look to the evening light.
We sing to God, the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit:
You are worthy of being praised with pure voices forever.
O Son of God, O Giver of life: The universe proclaims your glory.
L    The Lord be with you.
C    And also with you.
L    Let us give thanks to the Lord our God.
C    It is right to give him thanks and praise.
L    Blessed are you, O Lord our God, king of the universe, who led your people Israel by a pillar of cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night: Enlighten our darkness by the light of your Christ; may your Word be a lamp to our feet and a light to our path; for you are merciful, and you love your whole creation, and we, your creatures glorify you, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
C    Amen

Psalmody

Psalm 141

Let my prayer rise before you as incense; the lifting up of my hands as the evening sacrifice.
O Lord, I call to you; come to me quickly: hear my voice when I cry to you.
Let my prayer rise before you as incense; the lifting up of my hands as the evening sacrifice.
Set a watch before my mouth, O Lord; and guard the door of my lips.
Let not my heart incline to any evil thing; let me not be occupied in wickedness with evildoers.
But my eyes are turned to you, Lord God; in you I take refuge. Strip me not of my life.
Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit; as it was in the beginning, is now, and will be forever.
Let my prayer rise before you as incense; the lifting up of my hands as the evening sacrifice.
Silence for meditation.

L    Let the incense of our repentant prayer ascend before you, O Lord, and let your loving-kindness descend upon us, that with purified minds we may sing your praises with the Church on earth and the whole heavenly host, and may glorify you forever and ever.
C    Amen.

L    Jesus Christ is risen from the dead.
C    Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia!
L    We are illumined by the brightness of his rising.
C    Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia!
L    Death has no more dominion over us.
C    Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia!

Sit

Additional Psalmody

Additional psalmody from the calendar follows. Silence for meditation follows each psalm. The psalm prayer appropriate to each psalm follows the silence. Look up the evening psalms on today’s reading calendar. Consider singing the Psalms by using the playlist below:


Stand

Easter Songs

Sit

Scripture Readings

Find the Daily Readings here.

Silence for meditation follows each reading.

Response

L    In many and various ways God spoke to his people of old by the prophets.
C    But now in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son.

Stand

Gospel Canticle

Luke 1:68-79

C    My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord; my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
for he has looked with favor on his lowly servant.
From this day all generations will call me blessed.
The Almighty has done great things for me, and holy is his name.
He has mercy on those who fear him in every generation.
He has shown the strength of his arm; he has scattered the proud in their conceit.
He has cast down the mighty from their thrones, and has lifted up the lowly.
He has filled the hungry with good things, and the rich he has sent away empty.
He has come to the help of his servant Israel, for he has remembered his promise of mercy,
the promise he made to our fathers, to Abraham and his children forever.
Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit;
as it was in the beginning, is now, and will be forever. Amen.

Prayers

Other prayers may be said by the leader, the congregation responding, Amen.
Or, members of the congregation may be invited to offer petitions and thanksgivings.
During this period of Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-2019), consider using these Prayers in Time of Infectious Disease, provided by our friends in the Anglican Church in North America (ACNA) or Prayers in a Time of Pandemic, written by Cathy Ammlung.

The prayers conclude:

L Rejoicing in the fellowship of all the saints, let us commend ourselves, one another, and our whole life to Christ, our Lord.
CTo you, O Lord.

L O God, from whom come all holy desires, all good counsels, and all just works: Give to us, your servants, that peace which the world cannot give, that our hearts may be set to obey your commandments; and also that we, being defended from the fear of our enemies, may live in peace and quietness; through the merits of Jesus Christ our Savior, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, God forever.
CAmen.

L Lord, remember us in your kingdom, and teach us to pray:
COur Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name,
    thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.
  Give us this day our daily bread; and forgive us our trespasses,
    as we forgive those who trespass against us;
  and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.
  For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever and ever. Amen.

L    Let us bless the Lord.
C    Thanks be to God.

Stand

Benediction

L    The almighty and merciful Lord, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, bless and preserve us.
C    Amen.

Psalmody

Psalm 141



Silence for meditation.

L    Let the incense of our repentant prayer ascend before you, O Lord, and let your loving-kindness descend upon us, that with purified minds we may sing your praises with the Church on earth and the whole heavenly host, and may glorify you forever and ever.
C    Amen.

Sit

Additional Psalmody

Additional psalmody from the calendar follows. Silence for meditation follows each psalm. The psalm prayer appropriate to each psalm follows the silence. Look up the evening psalms on today’s reading calendar. Consider singing the Psalms by using the playlist below:


Stand

Easter Songs

Sit

Scripture Readings

Find the Daily Readings here.

Silence for meditation follows each reading.

Response

L    In many and various ways God spoke to his people of old by the prophets.
C    But now in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son.

Stand

Gospel Canticle

Luke 1:68-79


Prayers

Other prayers may be said by the leader, the congregation responding, Amen.
Or, members of the congregation may be invited to offer petitions and thanksgivings.
During this period of Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-2019), consider using these Prayers in Time of Infectious Disease, provided by our friends in the Anglican Church in North America (ACNA) or Prayers in a Time of Pandemic, written by Cathy Ammlung.

The prayers conclude:

L Rejoicing in the fellowship of all the saints, let us commend ourselves, one another, and our whole life to Christ, our Lord.
CTo you, O Lord.

L O God, from whom come all holy desires, all good counsels, and all just works: Give to us, your servants, that peace which the world cannot give, that our hearts may be set to obey your commandments; and also that we, being defended from the fear of our enemies, may live in peace and quietness; through the merits of Jesus Christ our Savior, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, God forever.
CAmen.

L Lord, remember us in your kingdom, and teach us to pray:
COur Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name,
    thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.
  Give us this day our daily bread; and forgive us our trespasses,
    as we forgive those who trespass against us;
  and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.
  For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever and ever. Amen.

Stand

Benediction



Resources compiled by the Rev. Andrew Ames Fuller, director of communications for the North American Lutheran Church and an ordained deacon in the Anglican Church in North America. Liturgies and music found in the Lutheran Book of Worship, ©1978 Augsburg Publishing House and Lutheran Church in America Publication Board.