23 December 2018
Today as the sun was setting I was feeling nostalgic. I pulled out my old TLH and prayed Vespers, using the appointed Psalm for this Sunday and the Gospel reading and, of course, the antiphon for Magnificat "O Emmanuel." Our parish has used Evening Prayer almost exclusively for a number of years, and it is easy to understand why. It is a very beautiful liturgy and accessible. But there are days when I just miss plain old Vespers. In American liturgies the opening versicle from Matins was also stuck onto Vespers (not exactly sure how that came to be; I don't think any of the old Church Orders did that), but aside from that, Vespers is pretty much untouched from the way that Western Christians gathered to pray it for centuries. It has always had a soft spot in the pious hearts of God's people wherever it has been used. Opening Versicle(s) and Gloria Patri, Psalm(s), Lection, Responsory, possible sermon, Office Hymn, Versicle from Psalm 141 (or proper to the day), Magnificat with its antiphon, and the closing prayers (also simplicity itself: Kyrie, Our Father, Salutation, Collects, Benedicamus, or the Suffrages in place of the foregoing, particularly in penitential seasons). Again, American Lutheran liturgy added to the end as the beginning: a Benediction (the Apostolic). Vespers was just a wonderful way to welcome the evening lights and to do so with all the cleanness, directness, and simplicity of Western liturgy that I think the more ornate borrowing from the Oriental churches can't quite pull off. Not that Evening Prayer isn't beautiful and a gift; it is. Still, maybe it's just Christmas and remembering, but I do miss my old friend: Vespers.
Posted by William Weedon at 5:54 PM