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From Dom Guéranger's The Liturgical Year.

The Office of Vespers, or Evensong, consists firstly of the five following psalms. For certain feasts some of these psalms are changed for others, which are more appropriate to those occasions.

After the Pater and Ave have been said in secret, the Church commences this Hour with her favourite supplication:

℣. Deus, in adjutorium meum intende.
℟. Domine, ad adjuvandum me festina.

℣. Gloria Patri, et Filio, et Spiritui Sancto.
℟. Sicut erat in principio, et nunc et semper, et in sæcula sæculorum. Amen. Alleluia.

Ant. Dixit Dominus.
℣. Incline unto mine aid, O God.
℟. O Lord, make haste to help me.

℣. 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. Alleluia.

Ant. The Lord said.

The first psalm is a prophecy of the future glories of the Messias. The Son of David shall sit on the right hand of the heavenly Father. He is King; He is Priest; He is the Son of Man, and the Son of God. His enemies will attack Him, but He will crush them. He will be humbled, but this voluntary humiliation will lead Him to the highest glory.

Psalm 109

 

Dixit Dominus Domino meo: Sede a dextris meis.
Donec ponam inimicos tuos: scabellum pedum tuorum.
Virgam virtutis tuæ emittet Dominus ex Sion: dominare in medio inimicorum tuorum.
Tecum principium in die virtutis tuæ in splendoribus sanctorum: ex utero ante luciferum genui te.
Juravit Dominus, et non pœnitebit eum: Tu es Sacerdos in æternum secundum ordinem Melchisedech.
Dominus a dextris tuis; confregit in die iræ suæ reges.
Judicabit in nationibus, implebit ruinas: conquassabit capita in terra multorum.
De torrente in via bibet: propterea exaltabit caput.
Ant. Dixit Dominus Domino meo, Sede a dextris meis.

Ant. Magna opera Domini.
The Lord said to my Lord, his Son: Sit thou at my right hand, and reign with me.
Until, on the day of thy last coming, I make thy enemies thy footstool.
O Christ! the Lord, thy Father, will send forth the sceptre of thy power out of Sion: from thence rule thou in the midst of thy enemies.
With thee is the principality in the day of thy strength, in the brightness of the saints: For the Father hath said to thee: From the womb before the day-star I begot thee.
The Lord hath sworn, and he will not repent: he hath said, speaking of thee, the GodMan: Thou art a Priest for ever, according to the order of Melchisedech.
Therefore, O Father, the Lord, thy Son, is at thy right hand: he hath broken kings in the day of his wrath.
He shall also judge among nations: in that terrible coming, he shall fill the ruins of the world: he shall crush the heads in the land of many.
He cometh now in humility; he shall drink in the way, of the torrent of sufferings: therefore, he shall lift up the head.
Ant. The Lord said to my Lord, Sit thou at my right hand.

Ant. Great are the works of the Lord.

The following psalm commemorates the mercies of God to His people, the promised Covenant, the Redemption, His fidelity to His word. But it also tells us that the name of the Lord is terrible because it is holy; and concludes by admonishing us, that the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.

Psalm 110

 

Confitebor tibi, Domine, in toto corde meo: in consilio justorum et congregatione.
Magna opera Domini: exquisita in omnes voluntates ejus.
Confessio et magnificentia opus ejus: et justitia ejus manet in sæculum sæculi.
Memoriam fecit mirabilium suorum, misericors et miserator Dominus: escam dedit timentibus se.
Memor erit in sæculum testamenti sui: virtutem operum suorum annuntiabit populo suo.
Ut det illis hæreditatem gentium: opera manuum ejus veritas et judicium.
Fidelia omnia mandata ejus, confirmata in sæculum sæculi: facta in veritate et æquitate.
Redemptionem misit populo suo: mandavit in ætermina testamentum suum.
Sanctum et terribile nomen ejus: initium sapientiæ timor Domini.
Intellectus bonus omnibus facientibus eum: laudatio ejus manet in sæculum sæculi.
Ant. Magna opera Domini: exquisita in omnes voluntates ejus.

Ant. Qui timet Dominum.
I will praise thee, O Lord, with my whole heart: in the counsel of the just, and in the congregation.
Great are the works of the Lord; sought out according to all his wills.
His work is praise and magnificence: and his justice continueth for ever and ever.
He hath made a remembrance of his wonderful works, being a merciful and gracious Lord: he is the Bread of life, he hath given food to them that fear him.
He will be mindful for ever of his covenant with men: he will show forth to his people the power of his works.
That he may give to his Church the inheritance of the Gentiles: the works of his hands are truth and judgment.
All his commandments are faithful, confirmed for ever and ever: made in truth and equity.
He hath sent redemption to his people; he hath thereby commanded his covenant for ever.
Holy and terrible is his name: the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.
A good understanding to all that do it: his praise continueth for ever and ever.
Ant. Great are the works of the Lord: sought out according to all his wills.

Ant. He that feareth the Lord.

The next psalm sings the happiness of the just man, and his hopes on the day of his Lord’s coming. It tells us, likewise, of the confusion of the sinner who shall have despised the mysteries of God’s love towards mankind.

Psalm 111

Beatus vir qui timet Dominum: in mandatis ejus volet nimis.
Potens in terra erit semen ejus: generatio rectorum benedicetur.
Gloria et divitiæ in domo ejus: et justitia ejus manet in sæculum sæculi.
Exortum est in tenebris lumen rectis: misericors, et miserator, et justus.
Jucundus homo, qui miseretur et commodat, disponet sermones suos in judicio: quia in æternum non commovebitur.

In memoria æterna erit justus: ab auditione mala non timebit.
Paratum cor ejus sperare in Domino, confirmatum est cor ejus: non commovebitur donec despiciat inimicos suos.
Dispersit, dedit pauperibus; justitia ejus manet in sæculum sæculi: cornu ejus exaltabitur in gloria.
Peccator videbit et irascetur, dentibus suis fremet et tabescet: desiderium peccatorum peribit.
Ant. Qui timet Dominum, in mandatis ejus cupit nimis.

Ant. Sit nomen Domini.
Blessed is the man that feareth the Lord: he shall delight exceedingly in his commandments.
His seed shall be mighty upon earth: the generation of the righteous shall be blessed.
Glory and wealth shall be in his house: and his justice remaineth for ever and ever.
To the righteous a light is risen up in darkness: that light is the Lord, who is merciful, and compassionate and just.
Acceptable is the man that showeth mercy and lendeth; be shall order his very words with judgment: because he shall not be moved for ever.

The just shall be in everlasting remembrance: he shall not fear the evil hearing.
His heart is ready to hope in the Lord; his heart is strengthened; he shall not be moved until he look over his enemies.
He hath distributed, he hath given to the poor; his justice remaineth for ever and ever: his horn shall be exalted in glory.
The wicked shall see, and shall be angry: he shall gnash with the teeth, and pine away; the desire of the wicked shall perish.
Ant. He that feareth the Lord delighteth exceedingly in his commandments.

Ant. May the name of the Lord.

The psalm, Laudate, pueri, is a canticle of praise to the Lord, who, from His high heaven, hath taken pity on the human race, and has vouchsafed to honour it by the Incarnation of His own Son.

Psalm 112

Laudate, pueri, Dominum: laudate nomen Domini.
Sit nomen Domini benedictum: ex hoc nunc, et usque in sæculum.
A solis ortu usque ad occasum: laudabile nomen Domini.
Excelsus super omnes gentes Dominus: et super cœlos gloria ejus.
Quis sicut Dominus Deus noster qui in altis habitat: et humilia respicit in cœlo et in terra?
Suscitans a terra inopem: et de stercore erigens pauperem:
Ut collocet eum cum principibus: cum principibus populi sui.
Qui habitare facit sterilem in domo: matrem filiorum lætantem.
Ant. Sit nomen Domini benedictum in sæcula.

Ant. Deus autem noster.
Praise the Lord, ye children: praise ye the name of the Lord.
Blessed be the name of the Lord; from henceforth now and for ever.
From the rising of the sun unto the going down of the same, the name of the Lord is worthy of praise.
The Lord is high above all nations: and his glory above the heavens.
Who is as the Lord, our God, who dwelleth on high: and looketh down on the low things in heaven and in earth?
Raising up the needy from the earth: and lifting up the poor out of the dunghill.
That he may place him with princes: with the princes of his people.
Who maketh a barren woman to dwell in a house, the joyful mother of children.
Ant. May the name of the Lord be for ever blessed.

Ant. But our God.

The fifth psalm, In exitu, recounts the prodigies witnessed under the ancient Covenant: they were figures, whose realities were to be accomplished in the mission of the Son of God, who came to deliver Israel from Egypt, emancipate the Gentiles from their idolatry, and pour out a blessing on every man who would consent to fear and love the Lord.

Psalm 113

In exitu Israel de Ægypto: domus Jacob de populo barbaro:
Facta est Judea sanctificatio ejus: Israel potestas ejus.
Mare vidit et fugit: Jordanis conversus est retrorsum.
Montes exsultaverunt ut arietes: et colles sicut agni ovium.
Quid est tibi, mare, quod fugisti: et tu, Jordanis, quia con versus es retrorsum?
Montes exsultastis sicut arietes: et colles sicut agni ovium?
A facie Domini mota est terra: a facie Dei Jacob.
Qui convertit petram in stagna aquarum: et rupem in fontes aquarum.
Non nobis, Domine, non nobis: sed nomini tuo da gloriam.
Super misericordia tua, et veritate tua: nequando dicant gentes: Ubi est Deus eorum?
Deus autem noster in cœlo: omnia quæcumque voluit fecit.
Simulacra gentium argentum et aurum: opera manuum hominum.
Os habent, et non loquentur: oculos habent, et non videbunt.
Aures habent, et non audient: nares habent, et non odorabunt.
Manus habent, et non palpabunt, pedes habent, et non ambulabunt: non clamabunt in gutture suo.
Similes illis fiant qui faciunt ea: et omnes qui confidunt in eis.
Domus Israel speravit in Domino: adjutor eorum, et protector eorum est.
Domus Aaron speravit in Domino: adjutor eorum, et protector eorum est.
Qui timent Dominum, speraverunt in Domino: adjutor eorum, et protector eorum est.
Dominus memor fuit nostril et benedixit nobis.
Benedixit domui Israel: benedixit domui Aaron.
Benedixit omnibus qui timent Dominum: pusillis cum majoribus.
Adjiciat Dominus super vos: super vos, et super filios vestros.
Benedicti vos a Domino: qui fecit cœlum et terram.
Cœlum cœli Domino: terram autem dedit filiis hominum.
Non mortui laudabunt te, Domine: neque omnes qui descendunt in infernum.
Sed nos qui vivimus, benedicimus Domino: ex hoc nunc et usque in sæculum.
Ant. Deus autem noster in cœlo: omnia quæcumque voluit, fecit.
When Israel went out of Egypt, the house of Jacob from a barbarous people.
Judea was made his sanctuary, Israel his dominion.
The sea saw and fled; Jordan was turned back.
The mountains skipped like rams: and the hills like the lambs of the flocks.
What ailed thee, O thou sea, that thou didst flee: and thou, O Jordan, that thou wast turned back?
Ye mountains, that ye skipped like rams: and ye hills like lambs of the flock?
At the presence of the Lord the earth was moved, at the presence of the God of Jacob.
Who turned the rock into pools of water, and the stony hills into fountains of water.
Not to us, O Lord, not to us: but to thy name give glory.
For thy mercy, and for thy truth’s sake: lest the Gentiles should say: Where is their God?
But our God is in heaven: he hath done all things whatsoever he would.
The idols of the Gentiles are silver and gold: the works of the hands of men.
They have mouths, and speak not: they have eyes, and see not.
They have ears, and hear not: they have noses, and smell not.
They have hands, and feel not: they have feet and walk not: neither shall they cry out through their throat.
Let them that make them become like unto them: and all such as trust in them.
The house of Israel hath hoped in the Lord: he is their helper and their protector.
The house of Aaron hath hoped in the LORD: HE IS THEIR helper and their protector.
They that feared the Lord have hoped in the Lord; he is their helper and their protector.
The Lord hath been mindful of us, and hath blessed us.
He hath blessed the house of Israel: he hath blessed the house of Aaron.
He hath blessed all that fear the Lord, both little and great.
May the Lord add blessings upon you: upon you, and upon your children.
Blessed be you of the Lord, who made heaven and earth.
The heaven of heaven is the Lord's: but the earth he has given to the children of men.
The dead shall not praise thee, O Lord; nor any of them that go down to hell.
But we that live bless the Lord: from this time now and for ever.
Ant. But our God is in heaven: he hath done all things whatsoever he would.

After these five psalms, a short lesson from the holy Scriptures is read. It is called Capitulum, or Little Chapter, because it is always very short. Those for the several festivals are given in the proper of each.

Capitulum
(2 Cor. i.)

Benedictus Deus et Pater Domini nostri Jesu Christi, Pater misericordiarum et Deus totius consolationis, qui consolatur nos in omni tribulatione nostra.

℟. Deo gratias.
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort, who comforteth us in all our tribulations.

℟. Thanks be to God.

Then follows the hymn. We here give the one for Sundays. It was composed by St. Gregory the Great. It sings of creation, and celebrates the praises of that portion of it which was called forth on this first day, viz., the light.

Hymn[1]

Lucis Creator optime,
Lucem dierum proferens:
Primordiis lucis novæ,
Mundi parane originem.

Qui mane junctum vesperi
Diem vocari præcipis:
Illabitur tetrum chaos,
Audi preces cum fletibus.

Ne mens gravata crimine,
Vitae sit exsul munere:
Dum nil perenne cogitat,
Seseque culpis illigat.

Cœleste pulset ostium,
Vitale tollat præmium:
Vitemus omne noxium,
Purgemus omne pessimum.

Præsta Pater piissime,
Patrique compar Unice,
Cum Spiritu Paraclito
Regnans per omne sæculum.

Amen.
O infinitely good Creator of the light!
by thee was produced the light of day,
providing thus the world’s beginning
with the beginning of the new-made light.

Thou biddest us call the time from morn till eve day;
this day is over;
dark night comes on;
oh! hear our tearful prayers.

Let not our soul, weighed down by crime,
mis-spend thy gift of life;
and, forgetting what is eternal,
be earth-tied by her sins.

Oh! may we strive to enter our heavenly home,
and bear away the prize of life;
may we shun what would injure us,
and cleanse our soul from her defilements.

Most merciful Father,
and thou his only-begotten Son, co-equal with him,
reigning for ever, with the holy Paraclete,
grant this our prayer.

Amen.

 


The versicle which follows the hymn, and which we here give, is that of the Sunday; those for the feasts are given in their proper places.

℣. Dirigatur, Domine, oratio mea.
℟. Sicut incensum in conspectu tuo.
℣. May my prayer, O Lord, ascend.
℟. Like incense in thy sight.

Then is said the Magnificat antiphon, which is to be found in the proper. After this, the Church sings the canticle of Mary, the Magnificat, in which are celebrated the divine maternity and all its consequent blessings. This exquisitely sweet canticle is an essential part of the Office of Vespers. It is the evening incense, just as the canticle Benedictus, at Lauds, is that of the morning.

Our Lady’s Canticle
(St. Luke i.)

Magnificat: anima mea Dominum;
Et exsultavit spiritus meus: in Deo Salutari meo.
Quia respexit humilitatem ancillæ suæ: ecce enim ex hoc beatam me dicent omnes generationes.
Quia fecit mihi magna qui potens est: et sanctum Nomen ejus.
Et misericordia ejus a progenie in progenies: timentibus eum.
Fecit potentiam in brachio suo: dispersit superbos mente cordis sui.
Deposuit potentes de sede: et exaltavit humiles.
Esurientes implevit bonis: et divites dimisit inanes.
Suscepit Israel puerum suum: recordatus misericordiæ suæ.
Sicut locutus est ad patres nostros: Abraham et semini ejus in sæcula.
My soul doth magnify the Lord;
And my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour.
Because he hath regarded the humility of his handmaid: for, behold from henceforth all generations shall call me blessed.
Because he that is mighty hath done great things to me: and holy is his name.
And his mercy is from generation unto generation, to them that fear him.
He hath showed might in his arm: he hath scattered the proud in the conceit of their heart.
He hath put down the mighty from their seat: and hath exalted the humble.
He hath filled the hungry with good things: and the rich he hath sent empty away.
He hath received Israel his servant, being mindful of his mercy.
As he spoke to our fathers, to Abraham and to his seed for ever.

The Magnificat antiphon is then repeated. The prayer, or collect, is given in the proper of each feast and Sunday.

℣. Benedicamus Domino.
℟. Deo gratias.

℣. Fidelium animæ per misericordiam Dei requiescant in pace.
℟. Amen.
℣. Let us bless the Lord.
℟. Thanks be to God.

℣. May the souls of the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace.
℟. Amen.

 

[1] According to the monastic rite, it is as follows: ℟. breve. Quam magnificata sunt * Opera tua Domine. Quam. ℣. Omnia in sapientia fecisti * Opera. Gloria Patri, etc. Quam. Ne mens gravata crimine, Vitæ sit exsul munere, Dum nil perenne cogitat, Seseque culpis illigat. Lucis Creator optime, Lucem dierum proferens; Primordiis lucis novæ. Mundi parans originem. Cœlorum pulset intimum, Vitale tollat præmium : Vitemus omne noxium, Purgemus omne pessimum. Qui mane junctum vesperi, Diem vocari præcipis, Tetrum chaos illabitur, Audi preces cum fletibus. Præsta Pater piissime, Patrique compar Unice Cum Spiritu Paraclito Regnans per omne sæculum. Amen.