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 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.

He comes with succour speedy
To those who suffer wrong;
To help the poor and needy,
And bid the weak be strong;
To give them songs for sighing,
Their darkness turned to light,
Whose souls, condemned and dying,
Were precious in his sight.

He shall come down like showers
Upon the fruitful earth,
And love, joy, hope, like flowers,
Spring in his path to birth:
Before him on the mountains
Shall peace the herald go;
And righteousness in fountains
From hill to valley flow.

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: James Montgomery (1771-1854) based on Psalm 72
Music: from a melody in Johann Crüger’s ‘Gesangbuch’
adapted by William H. Monk (1823-1889)
Hymn Tune: CRÜGER

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.

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 75

Unto thee O God do we give thanks:
Yea unto thee do we give thanks.
Thy Name also is so nigh:
And that do thy wondrous works declare.

‘When I receive the congregation:
‘I shall judge according unto right.
‘The earth is weak and all the inhabiters thereof:
‘I bear up the pillars of it.
‘I said unto the fools “Deal not so madly”:
‘And to the ungodly “Set not up your horn.”’

Set not up your horn on high:
And speak not with a stiff neck.
For promotion cometh neither from the east nor from the west:
Nor yet from the south.
And why? God is the judge:
He putteth down one and setteth up another.
For in the hand of the Lord there is a cup and the wine is red:
It is full mixed and he poureth out of the same.
As for the dregs thereof:
All the ungodly of the earth shall drink them and suck them out.

But I will talk of the God of Jacob:
And praise him for ever.
All the horns of the ungodly also will I break:
And the horns of the righteous shall be exalted.

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: Henry T. Smart (1813-1879)

Old Testament Lesson

Isaiah 40.1-11

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 filled 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: Plainsong with fauxbourdons
by Giovanni Ilorio (16th century composer)

New Testament Lesson

Luke 1.1-25

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: Plainsong with fauxbourdons
by Thomas Morley (1557-1602)

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

O Lord, raise up we pray thee thy power
and come among us,
and with great might succour us;
that whereas, through our sins and wickedness
we are sore let and hindered
in running the race that is set before us,
thy bountiful grace and mercy
may speedily help and deliver us;
through the satisfaction of thy Son our Lord,
to whom with thee and the Holy Spirit
be honour and glory, now and for ever.

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 sit.

‘People, look East’

People, look East, the time is near
Of the crowning of the year.
Make your house fair as you are able,
Trim the hearth, and set the table.
People, look East, and sing today:
Love the Guest is on the way.

Furrows, be glad, though earth is bare,
One more seed is planted there:
Give up your strength the seed to nourish,
That in course the flower may flourish.
People, look East, and sing today:
Love the Rose is on the way.

Stars keep the watch when night is dim
One more light the bowl shall brim,
Shining beyond the frosty weather,
Bright as sun and moon together.
People, look East, and sing today:
Love the Star is on the way.

Angels, announce to man and beast
Him who cometh from the East.
Set every peak and valley humming
With the word, the Lord is coming.
People, look East, and sing today:
Love the Lord is on the way.

Words: Eleanor Farjeon (1881-1965)
Music: Besançon carol melody arr. Malcolm Archer (b. 1952)

The Sermon

Hymn

Please stand.

Come, thou long-expected Jesus,
Born to set thy people free,
From our fears and sins release us,
Let us find our rest in thee.

Israel’s strength and consolation,
Hope of all the earth thou art,
Dear desire of ev’ry nation,
Joy of ev’ry longing heart.

Born thy people to deliver,
Born a child and yet a king,
Born to reign in us for ever,
Now thy gracious kingdom bring.

By thine own eternal Spirit,
Rule in all our hearts alone;
By thine all-sufficient merit
Raise us to thy glorious throne. 

Words: Charles Wesley (1707-1788)
Music: John Stainer (1840-1901)
Tune: CROSS OF JESUS

The Prayers

Please kneel or sit.

Hymn

Please stand.

Hills of the North, rejoice,
Echoing songs arise,
Hail with united voice
Him who made earth and skies:
He comes in righteousness and love,
He brings salvation from above.

Isles of the Southern seas,
Sing to the listening earth,
Carry on ev’ry breeze,
Hope of a world’s new birth:
In Christ shall all be made anew,
His word is sure, his promise true.

Lands of the East, arise,
He is your brightest morn,
Greet him with joyous eyes,
Praise shall his path adorn:
The God whom we have longed to know
In Christ draws near, and calls you now.

Shores of the utmost West,
Lands of the setting sun,
Welcome the heav’nly guest
In whom the dawn has come:
He brings a never-ending light
Who triumphed o’er our darkest night.

Shout, as you journey on,
Songs be in ev’ry mouth;
Lo, from the North they come,
From East and West and South:
In Jesus all shall find their rest,
In him the sons of earth be blest.

Words: Charles E. Oakley (1832-1865)
Music: Martin Shaw (1875-1958)
Hymn Tune: LITTLE CORNARD

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 Choral Evensong will be on 2nd January 2022.

Please do join us again.

Please follow the instructions of the stewards as you leave the building and remember to clean your hands.


Extracts from The Book of Common Prayer, the rights in which are vested
in the Crown, are reproduced by permission of the Crown’s patentee,
Cambridge University Press. BCP 1662.


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Hills of the North, rejoice
Music © J. Curwen & Sons

Preces & responses
Music © The Royal School of Church Music

People, look East
© Oxford University Press

Organ voluntary
© Kevin Mayhew Ltd

Extracts from The Book of Common Prayer, the rights in which are vested in the Crown, are reproduced by permission of the Crown’s patentee, Cambridge University Press. BCP 1662.

CCL licence: 668063