Order of service

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What is Evensong?

Evensong is a combination of two of the seven offices (services) that made up the daily round of monastic prayer. These were the evening offices of Vespers and Compline which consisted of responses, psalms, canticles, readings and prayers. The liturgy of Evensong was first written down in 1549 in Archbishop Thomas Cranmer’s Book of Common Prayer. Several revisions to the book were made over subsequent years with the definitive version published in 1662. Widely known for the beauty and richness of its language, including Myles Coverdale’s translation of the psalms, the 1662 edition of the Book of Common Prayer remains the official prayer book of the Church of England.   

The service of Evensong is renowned for its choral music. Several sections of the liturgy are sung by the choir though there are various ways in which everyone can participate. For example, it is an ancient custom in the Magnificat and the Nunc Dimittis as the choir sings the first two lines of the Gloria (‘Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost’) to make the sign of the cross and to bow one’s head in honour of God the Holy Trinity.

Ever since its foundation this church has been a house of prayer. The first recorded priest of St Mary’s Whitkirk was Paulinus who was the priest here in AD 1185. The worship we share today gives a powerful sense of connecting the present with the past and of being part of a great, and continuing, tradition. Thank you for being part of this act of worship this evening as we join our prayers and praises with those that have been offered here at St Mary’s for over eight hundred years.


The Service of Choral Evensong

Hymn

Please stand.

Come down, O Love divine,
Seek thou this soul of mine,
And visit it with thine own ardour glowing;
O Comforter, draw near,
Within my heart appear,
And kindle it, thy holy flame bestowing.

O let it freely burn,
Till earthly passions turn
To dust and ashes in its heat consuming;
And let thy glorious light
Shine ever on my sight,
And clothe me round, the while my path illuming.

Let holy charity
Mine outward vesture be,
And lowliness become mine inner clothing;
True lowliness of heart,
Which takes the humbler part,
And o’er its own shortcomings weeps with loathing.

And so the yearning strong,
With which the soul will long,
Shall far outpass the pow’r of human telling;
Nor can we guess its grace,
Till we become the place
Wherein the Holy Spirit makes his dwelling.

Words: Bianco da Siena (d. 1434) translated Richard Littledale (1833-1890) Music: Ralph Vaughan Williams (1872-1958)
Verse 4 harmony arr. Ian Tracey (b. 1955)

Sentences of the Scriptures

Please remain standing.

Dearly beloved brethren,
the scripture moveth us in sundry places 
to acknowledge and confess
our manifold sins and wickedness;
and that we should not dissemble nor cloke them
before the face of Almighty God our heavenly Father;
but confess them with an humble,
lowly, penitent, and obedient heart;
to the end that we may obtain forgiveness of the same,
by his infinite goodness and mercy.
And although we ought at all times
humbly to acknowledge our sins before God;
yet ought we most chiefly so to do,
when we assemble and meet together
to render thanks for the great benefits
that we have received at his hands,
to set forth his most worthy praise,
to hear his most holy Word,
and to ask those things
which are requisite and necessary,
as well for the body as the soul.
Wherefore I pray and beseech you,
as many as are here present,
to accompany me with a pure heart and humble voice
unto the throne of the heavenly grace, saying after me:

General Confession

Please sit.

Almighty and most merciful Father,
We have erred and strayed
from thy ways like lost sheep,
We have followed too much
the devices and desires of our own hearts,
We have offended against thy holy laws,
We have left undone those things
which we ought to have done,
And we have done those things
which we ought not to have done,
And there is no health in us:
But thou, O Lord,
have mercy upon us miserable offenders;
Spare thou them, O God,
which confess their faults
Restore thou them that are penitent,
According to thy promises
declared unto mankind
in Christ Jesu our Lord:
And grant, O most merciful Father, for his sake,
That we may hereafter
live a godly, righteous, and sober life,
To the glory of thy holy Name.
Amen.

The Absolution

Said by the Priest.

Almighty God,
the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,
who desireth not the death of a sinner,
but rather that he may turn
from his wickedness and live;
and hath given power
and commandment to his Ministers,
to declare and pronounce
to his people, being penitent,
the Absolution and Remission of their sins:
He pardoneth and absolveth all them that truly repent
and unfeignedly believe his holy Gospel.
Wherefore let us beseech him to grant us
true repentance and his Holy Spirit,
that those things may please him
which we do at this present,
and that the rest of our life hereafter
may be pure and holy;
so that at the last we may come to his eternal joy;
through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Amen.

The Opening Responses (or ‘Preces’)

‘Preces’ is Latin for ‘Prayers’. These opening sentences are sung alternately by the cantor and the choir.

O Lord, open thou our lips.

And our mouth shall shew forth thy praise.

O God, make speed to save us.

O Lord, make haste to help us.

Please stand.

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son:
and to the Holy Ghost;

As it was in the beginning,
is now, and ever shall be:
world without end. Amen.

Praise ye the Lord.

The Lord’s Name be praised.

The Psalmody

Please remain standing.

The psalms are sacred poems from the Old Testament dating back over three thousand years. The music for the psalm is known as Anglican chant, a short repeating tune.

Psalm 37

verses 1-11

Fret not thyself because of the ungodly:
Neither be thou envious against the evil doers.
For they shall soon be cut down like the grass:
And be withered even as the green herb.
Put thou thy trust in the Lord and be doing good:
Dwell in the land and verily thou shalt be fed.
Delight thou in the Lord:
And he shall give thee thy heart’s desire.
Commit thy way unto the Lord, and put thy trust in him:
And he shall bring it to pass.
He shall make thy righteousness as clear as the light:
And thy just dealing as the noon-day.
Hold thee still in the Lord
and abide patiently upon him:
But grieve not thyself at him whose way doth prosper
against the man that doeth after evil counsels.
Leave off from wrath and let go displeasure:
Fret not thyself, else shalt thou be moved to do evil.
Wicked doers shall be rooted out:
And they that patiently abide the Lord
those shall inherit the land.
Yea a little while, and the ungodly shall be clean gone:
Thou shalt look after his place and he shall be away.
But the meek-spirited shall possess the earth:
And shall be refreshed in the multitude of peace.

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son:
and to the Holy Ghost;
As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be:
World without end. Amen.

Music: James Turle (1802-1882)

Old Testament Lesson

(Jeremiah 6.16-21)

Please sit.

At the end the reader says:

Here endeth the First Lesson.

Magnificat

Please stand.

The Magnificat is the song of praise Mary sang after learning that she would give birth to Jesus, as recounted in Luke (1.46).

My soul doth magnify the Lord:
and my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour.
For he hath regarded:
the lowliness of his hand-maiden.
For behold, from henceforth:
all generations shall call me blessèd.
For he that is mighty hath magnified me:
and holy is his Name.
And his mercy is on them that fear him:
throughout all generations.
He hath shewèd strength with his arm:
he hath scattered the proud
in the imagination of their hearts.
He hath put down the mighty from their seat:
and hath exalted the humble and meek.
He hath fillèd the hungry with good things:
and the rich he hath sent empty away.
He remembering his mercy
hath holpen his servant Israel:
as he promised to our forefathers
Abraham and his seed for ever.

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son:
and to the Holy Ghost;
As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be:
World without end. Amen.

Music: Sir Charles Villiers Stanford (1852-1924)

New Testament Lesson

(Romans 9.1-13)

Please sit.

At the end the reader says:

Here endeth the Second Lesson.

Nunc Dimittis

Please stand.

The Nunc Dimittis is also known as the Song of Simeon. Luke’s gospel (2.29) tells us that old Simeon, a devout Jew, had been promised that he would not die until he had seen the promised Saviour. When Jesus was presented to him at the temple in Jerusalem, he at once recognised the Messiah and uttered these words of farewell.

Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace:
according to thy word.
For mine eyes have seen: thy salvation;
Which thou hast prepared:
before the face of all people;
To be a light to lighten the Gentiles:
and to be the glory of thy people Israel.

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son:
and to the Holy Ghost;
As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be:
World without end. Amen.

Music: Thomas Kelway (c. 1695-1749)

The Apostles’ Creed

Please remain standing.

I believe in God the Father Almighty,
Maker of heaven and earth:
And in Jesus Christ his only Son our Lord,
Who was conceived by the Holy Ghost,
Born of the Virgin Mary,
Suffered under Pontius Pilate,
Was crucified, dead, and buried:
He descended into hell;
The third day he rose again from the dead;
He ascended into heaven,
And sitteth on the right hand
of God the Father Almighty;
From thence he shall come to judge
the quick and the dead.
I believe in the Holy Ghost;
The holy Catholick Church;
The Communion of Saints;
The Forgiveness of sins;
The Resurrection of the body,
And the life everlasting.
Amen.

The Lesser Litany

These prayers bind together themes of praise, mercy and the desire for God’s protection as night draws in. The first of the three prayers (or collects) change each month based on the particular season of the Christian year.

The Lord be with you.

And with thy spirit.

Let us pray.

Please sit.

Lord, have mercy upon us.

Christ, have mercy upon us.

Lord, have mercy upon us.

The Lord’s Prayer

Our Father,

which art in heaven,
Hallowed be thy Name,
Thy kingdom come,
Thy will be done,
in earth as it is in heaven.
 Give us this day our daily bread;
And forgive us our trespasses,
As we forgive them that trespass against us;
And lead us not into temptation,
But deliver us from evil.
Amen.

The Responses

O Lord, shew thy mercy upon us.

And grant us thy salvation.

O Lord, save the Queen.

And mercifully hear us when we call upon thee.

Endue thy Ministers with righteousness.

And make thy chosen people joyful. 

O Lord, save thy people.

And bless thine inheritance.

Give peace in our time, O Lord.

Because there is none other that fighteth for us,
but only thou, O God.

O God, make clean our hearts within us.

And take not thy Holy Spirit from us.

The Collect of the Day

O God, the strength of all them that put their trust in thee,
mercifully accept our prayers;
and because through the weakness of our mortal nature
we can do no good thing without thee,
grant us the help of thy grace,
that in keeping of thy commandments
we may please thee both in will and deed;
through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Amen.

The Collect for Peace

O God, from whom all holy desires,
all good counsels, and all just works do proceed:
Give unto thy servants that peace which the world cannot give;
that both our hearts may be set to obey thy commandments,
and also that by thee we being defended
from the fear of our enemies
may pass our time in rest and quietness;
through the merits of Jesus Christ our Saviour.

Amen.

The Collect for Aid against all Perils

Lighten our darkness,
we beseech thee, O Lord;
and by thy great mercy defend us
from all perils and dangers of this night;
for the love of thy only Son,
our Saviour Jesus Christ.

Amen.

The Anthem

Please remain seated.

Holy, holy, holy,
God almighty Lord!
Holy, holy, holy,
Everywhere adored!

He without beginning,
He th’eternal one
Reigns and rules for ever
All things ’neath the sun.

Holy, holy, holy,
God almighty Lord!
Holy, holy, holy,
Everywhere adored!

Power and love and wonder
Circling round his throne,
Praise him holy, holy,
Lord of life alone.

Words: Johann Philipp Neuman (1774-1849)
translated by Christina Cairns
Music: Franz Peter Schubert (1797-1828)

The Sermon

Hymn

Please stand.

Holy Father, cheer our way
With thy love’s perpetual ray;
Grant us ev’ry closing day
Light at evening time.

Holy Father, calm our fears
When earth’s brightness disappears;
Grant us in our latter years
Light at evening time.

Holy, blessèd Trinity,
Darkness is not dark with thee;
Those thou keepest always see
Light at evening time.

Words: Richard Hayes Robinson (1842-1892)
Music: Sir John Stainer (1840-1901)

The Prayers

Please sit.

Hymn

Please stand.

Praise to the Lord, the Almighty, the King of creation;
O my soul, praise him, for he is thy health and salvation:
All ye who hear,
Now to his temple draw near,
Joining in glad adoration.

Praise to the Lord, who o’er all things so wondrously reigneth,
Shieldeth thee gently from harm, or when fainting sustaineth:
Hast thou not seen
How thy heart’s wishes have been
Granted in what he ordaineth?

Praise to the Lord, who doth prosper thy work and defend thee;
Surely his goodness and mercy shall daily attend thee:
Ponder anew
What the Almighty can do,
If to the end he befriend thee.

Praise to the Lord, O let all that is in me adore him!
All that hath life and breath, come now with praises before him!
Let the Amen
Sound from his people again:
Gladly for ay we adore him.

Words: Joachim Neander (1650-1680)
translated by Catherine Winkworth (1827-1878)
Music: from ‘Praxis Pietatis Melica (1668)

The Blessing or The Grace

Thank you for being part of this evening’s act of worship.

Choral Evensong takes place at St Mary’s Whitkirk on the first Sunday of every month at 6.00 pm. The next service of Evensong will be on Sunday 4 July 2021.

Please do join us again.


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Come down, O Love divine
© Oxford University Press
Musical arrangement of verse 4 © Kevin Mayhew Ltd

Preces and responses
© The Royal School of Church Music

Holy, holy, holy
© Oxford University Press

Organ voluntary
© H. W. Gray Publications

CCL licence: 668063