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Thursday, March 15, 2007


A Service of Light to be used before Vespers

The service begins in darkness, with only enough light for the Officiant to see the text of the antiphon. If celebrated in the oratory, the altar candles alone are lighted. A large, unlit candle is placed in the midst of the sanctuary or some convenient place.

The Officiant intones:
V/. Blessed be God, + Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.
R/. And blessed be His Kingdom, now and for evermore. Amen.

The Officiant chants the antiphon:
Now that the darkness gathers, let the Dawn of Righteousness arise in our hearts, O Lord: that on us, who give Thee humble thanks at the ending of the day, Thou mayest look with favour as we pay our evening worship unto Thee.

Here the great candle is lighted. The other lights beginning with those before the icons are lighted from the great candle, while the Officiant continues:

The day is Thine and the night is Thine: grant that the Sun of Righteousness may ever abide in our hearts, to drive away the darkness of evil thoughts.

If this service is said in the Oratory, the deacon sets, and the priest blesses, incense. The priest then censes the Cross, Altar, great candle, Icons and congregation. Otherwise, incense may be offered in a stationary burner. In the meanwhile, the "Phos Hilarion" is sung:
O Gracious Light, pure brightness of the everliving Father in heaven, O Jesus Christ, holy and blessed! Now as we come to the setting of the sun, and our eyes behold the vesper light, we sing Thy praises, O God: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Worthy art Thou at all times to be praised by felicitous voices, O Son of God, O Giver of Life, and to be glorified through all the ages!

The Lord be with you.
And with thy spirit.

or, if led by a layman:
(O Lord, hear my prayer.
And let my cry come unto Thee.)

Let us pray.

We give thanks unto Thee, O Lord, Who hast preserved us throughout this day, and unto Thee do we pay our vows for protection through the coming night. Bring us in safety to the morning hours, we beseech Thee; that so Thou mayest at all times receive our praise. Through Jesus Christ thy Son, our Lord, Who with Thee and the Holy Ghost, liveth and reigneth, God, world without end. Amen.

O Lord Jesus Christ, Redeemer of the world, Word of the everlasting Father, by Whom all things were made and are preserved; we beseech Thee that Thou wouldest take us under the shadow of Thy mercy this night, neither suffer us to be troubled by the phantasies of Satan; but grant that we may behold the light in darkness, O Thou Who art the Light eternal, Who with the Father and the Holy Ghost, livest and reignest, God, world without end. Amen.

May the infinite and ineffable Trinity, the + Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost, direct our life in good works, and after our passing through this world, vouchsafe unto us everlasting rest with the righteous: grant this we pray. O eternal and almighty God. Amen.

The Officiant immediately intones the opening versicles of Vespers. If this service is celebrated apart from vespers, it is concluded thus:
The peace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the purity of the most blessed and ever-Virgin Mary, the sign of the Holy + Cross, the might of the Lord's Passion, the guardianship of the holy Angels, and the intercession of the Saints, stand between us and all our foes, both visible and invisible, and keep us from all sin, and from every peril to soul and body, now and in the hour of our death. Amen.


Elizabeth said...

this is lovely.
Thanks for posting !
Do you still have the blessing of your monastic house guest ?
And have you seen "Ostrov" yet ?

Barnabas said...

I'd love to go to this service, sounds very moving and rich.

May God continue to bless and guide you.

Anonymous said...

Is this Western or Eastern Rite? It does sound beautiful.

[And I love the fact that each service I read about on a different website has a different translation for the Phos Hilaron: "felicitous voices" is new to me, and a rather nice turn of phrase.

Michael Astley said...

Hello, all. Yes, it is lovely, isn't it, Elizabeth? I enjoy it very much and have taken to using it here in my little icon corner before Vespers (on the odd occasion that I sing Vespers: I'm more of a Prime and Compline person).

Monastic still here.

No, I haven't seen Ostrov. Mow, is this the Russian film that I came across somewhere (I forget where) and thought, 'Oh! I'd love to see that!', only to then forget about it until your mention of it just now? If so, please, please do refresh my memory because Ivaguely remember being quite excited about it and hoping that we could have more films made in this country along those lines.

Anderson, may God's blessings be yours as well. Why not use the service yourself? That's what I do. I'll be honest, I pinched and modified it (slightly) from the version used at Christminster (which, incidentally, should answer your question, Ian). As it is monastic, the original rubrics assume that it will be said in the monastery church, and specify that it is only to be used when Vespers are said solemnly, i.e. with ministers officiating from the sanctuary and the officiant in cope. It is not to be used in the "choir" office, where the officiant simply wears the monastic habit and sits with the other brethren in quire. However, I have rather naughtily modified the rubrics slightly to make it usable at a humble oratory in somebody's home, which is how I use it, with my large candle, stationary incense burner, and small votive lights dotted in front of icons cards around my room.

It's a Western Rite job, Ian, and isn't part of the English tradition but it was too nice to let go. I must confess to having fiddled with a little more than the rubrics. The Christminster version of the Phos Hilarion says Thou art worthy at all times, which just sings (and, IMO, sounds) better when rendered as Worthy art Thou at all times. I also changed happy voices to felicitous voices, breaking, for the sake of poetry, my rule about avoiding lisp-unfriendly words. I'm glad you like it.

One thing I cannot take credit for is the tune, which is truly lovely. Sadly, I no longer have the upgraded of Real Player otherwise I would have made a recording of it for you to hear.


Anonymous said...

Thanks: I should've guessed it was WR given the Latin heading! *bumps head*

And well done for the translation: I didn't realise you had done it.