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.

Hail to the Lord’s anointed,
Great David’s greater son!
Hail, in the time appointed,
His reign on earth begun!
He comes to break oppression,
To set the captive free;
To take away transgression,
And rule in equity.

Kings shall fall down before him,
And gold and incense bring;
All nations shall adore him,
His praise all people sing;
To him shall prayer unceasing
And daily vows ascend
His kingdom still increasing,
A kingdom without end.

O’er ev’ry foe victorious,
He on his throne shall rest,
From age to age more glorious,
All-blessing and all-blest;
The tide of time shall never
His covenant remove;
His name shall stand for ever;
That name to us is love.

Words: J. Montgomery (1771-1854) based on Psalm 72
Music: from a melody in Johann Crûger’s ‘Gesangbuch’
adapted by W. H. Monk (1823-1889)
Hymn Tune: CRÛGER

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 kneel or 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.

Grant, we beseech thee, merciful Lord,
to thy faithful people pardon and peace,
that they may be cleansed from all their sins,
and serve thee with a quiet mind;
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 132 (verses 1-10)

Lord remember David:
And all his trouble;

How he sware unto the Lord:
And vowed a vow unto the Almighty God of Jacob;

‘I will not come within the tabernacle of mine house:
‘Nor climb up into my bed;

‘I will not suffer mine eyes to sleep nor mine eye-lids to slumber:
‘Neither the temples of my head to take any rest;

‘Until I find out a place for the temple of the Lord:
‘An habitation for the mighty God of Jacob.

‘Lo we heard of the same at Ephrata:
‘And found it in the wood.

‘We will go into his tabernacle:
‘And fall low on our knees before his footstool.

‘Arise O Lord into thy resting-place:
‘Thou and the ark of thy strength.

‘Let thy priests be clothèd with righteousness:
‘And let thy saints sing with joyfulness.

‘For thy servant David’s sake:
‘Turn not away the presence of thine Anointed.’

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: G. M. Garrett (1834-1897)
Organist of St John’s College, Cambridge (1856-1897)

Old Testament Lesson

(Song of Solomon 2.1-7)

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:  C. V. Stanford (1852-1924)
Organist of Trinity College Chapel, Cambridge (1882-1902)

New Testament Lesson

(Acts 1.6-14)

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: G. J. Elvey (1816-1893)
Organist of St George’s Chapel, Windsor (1835-1882)

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 Lesser Litany is sung alternately by the cantor and the choir.

The Lord be with you.

And with thy spirit.

Let us pray.

Please kneel or 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

We beseech thee, O Lord,
pour thy grace into our hearts;
that, as we have known the incarnation
of thy Son Jesus Christ by the message of an angel,
so by his cross and passion we may be brought
unto the glory of his resurrection;
through the same 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.

‘Quem terra, pontus, aethera’

The Lord whom earth and sea and sky
Adore and praise and magnify,
Who o’er their threefold fabric reigns,
The Virgin’s spotless womb contains.

And he whose will is ever done
By moon and seas, by stars and sun,
Is borne upon a maiden’s breast,
When God’s foreseeing grace possessed.

How blest that Mother, in whose shrine
The very Word of God divine,
The maker of the earth and sky,
Was pleased in fleshly form to lie.

Blest in the message Gabriel brought,
Blest in the work the Spirit wrought,
Blest evermore, who brought to birth
The long-Desired of all the earth.

O Jesu, Virgin-born, to thee
Eternal praise and glory be,
Whom with the Father we adore
And Holy Spirit, evermore.

Latin words: attributed to V. Fortunatus (530-609)
English translation: J. M. Neale & others
Music: adapted by M. Praetorius (1571-1621)
Verses 1, 4 & 5 arr. G. H. Taylor
Verses 2 & 3 arr. G. R. Woodward
Descant composed by G. H. Taylor

The Sermon

Hymn

Please stand.

Lord of all hopefulness,
Lord of all joy.
Whose trust, ever child-like,
No cares could destroy,
Be there at our waking,
And give us, we pray,
Your bliss in our hearts, Lord,
At the break of the day.

Lord of all eagerness,
Lord of all faith,
Whose strong hands were skilled
At the plane and the lathe,
Be there at our labours,
And give us, we pray,
Your strength in our hearts, Lord,
At the noon of the day.

Lord of all kindliness,
Lord of all grace,
Your hands swift to welcome,
Your arms to embrace,
Be there at our homing
And give us, we pray,
Your love in our hearts, Lord,
At the eve of the day.

Lord of all gentleness,
Lord of all calm,
Whose voice is contentment,
Whose presence is balm,
Be there at our sleeping,
And give us, we pray,
Your peace in our hearts, Lord,
At the end of the day.

Words: J. Struther (1901-1953)
Music: Traditional Irish melody arr. C. Hand (1929-2015)
Hymn Tune: SLANE

The Prayers

Please kneel or sit.

Hymn

Please stand.

Ye watchers and ye holy ones,
Bright seraphs, cherubim and thrones,
Raise the glad strain, alleluia.
Cry out, dominions, princedoms, pow’rs,
Virtues, archangels, angels’ choirs:
Alleluia, alleluia,
Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia!

O higher than the cherubim,
More glorious than the seraphim,
Lead their praises, alleluia.
O Mary, bearer of the Word,
Most gracious, magnify the Lord:
Alleluia, alleluia,
Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia!

Respond, ye souls in endless rest,
Ye patriarchs and prophets blest,
Alleluia, alleluia.
Ye holy twelve, ye martyrs strong,
All saints triumphant, raise the song:
Alleluia, alleluia,
Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia!

O friends, in gladness let us sing,
Supernal anthems echoing,
Alleluia, alleluia.
To God the Father, God the Son
And God the Spirit, Three in One:
Alleluia, alleluia,
Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia!

Words: A. Riley (1855-1945) alt.
Music: melody from ‘Geistliche Kirchengesang’, Cologne (1623)
arr. R. Vaughan Williams (1872-1958)
Hymn Tune: LASST UNS ERFREUEN

The Grace

The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ,
and the love of God,
and the fellowship of the Holy Ghost,
be with us all evermore.
Amen.

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. Please do join us again.

The next service of Choral Evensong will be on Sunday 3 October 2021.


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Preces & responses
© The Royal School of Church Music

Quem terra, pontus, aethera
Verses 2 & 3 © The Canterbury Press Norwich
Descant and verses 1, 4 & 5 © G H Taylor

Lord of all hopefulness
Words © Oxford University Press
Music © Kevin Mayhew Ltd

Ye watchers and ye holy ones
© Oxford University Press

Organ voluntary
© G H Taylor

CCL licence: 668063