First, thank you to Brad Cunningham, for his articles on improving our participation in liturgy at St. Joseph Church. Also, thank you to all those who read the FTCL series, for your interest in learning more about sacred music of the Catholic church! Stay tuned for more.
This week I’d like to share information about a special liturgy we will celebrate during Advent. Solemn Vespers, also referred to as Evening Prayer or Evening Song, is part of the Liturgy of the Hours (Divine Office), which are special prayers, prescribed to us by the Church, to be prayed throughout the day. The high points of the Liturgy of the Hours are Morning Prayer (Lauds) and Evening Prayer (Vespers). Vespers is an evening prayer service, a sacrifice where praise is given to God for the day that has passed. The liturgy may be celebrated by clergy, religious, or lay men and women. When Vespers is celebrated communally, a priest wearing his cope, altar servers, incense, and a procession, we refer to it as Solemn Vespers. Many churches offer communal vespers around high points in the liturgical season to all congregants as an opportunity to participate in a liturgy outside of Mass.
A Solemn Vespers liturgy is sung completely in dialogue with the presider, cantor, schola cantorum, and congregation. It usually takes about 30 minutes to celebrate and contains an Introductory Verse, Hymn, Psalmody, Responsory, Gospel Canticle, Intercessions, Our Father, Concluding Prayer, and Dismissal. If you would like to read more about this ancient tradition of the Church please click here.
We celebrate Solemn Vespers each Sunday of Advent, 4 p.m. in the Church. If you have not experienced this sacred liturgy, I highly recommend it! It is absolutely beautiful and a great way to prepare for the birth of our Lord, Jesus Christ! - David J. Cochrane, Director of Music