The limits which necessity requires us to put to this volume will not admit of our inserting any of the day Office beyond Vespers and Compline; moreover, the faithful rarely assist at any other of the Canonical Hours, during this part of the liturgical year.
The Office of Vespers, or Evensong, consists firstly of five psalms with their antiphons. The antiphons of each Sunday are given farther on, in the Proper of the Time.
The Church commences with the supplication, which she makes to God at the beginning of all her Hours:
V. Deus, in adjutorium meum intende.
R. Domine, ad adjuvandum me festina.
|V. Incline unto my aid, O God.
R. O Lord, make haste to help me.
The first psalm is a prophecy of the glory of the Messias. Let us, during this season, the more earnestly proclaim the greatness of the Incarnate Word the more we see Him humbled, out of love for us, during these days which precede His divine birth.
Dixit Dominus Domino meo: * Sede a dextris meis.
Donec ponam inimicos tuos: * scabellum pedum tuorum.
Virgam virtutis tuae emittet Dominus ex Sion: * dominare in medio inimicorum tuorum.
Tecum principium in die virtutis tuae in splendoribus sanctorum: * ex utero ante luciferum genui te.
Juravit Dominus, et non poenitebit eum: * Tu es Sacerdos in aeternum secundum ordinem Melchisedech.
Dominus a dextris tuis: * confregit in die irae suae reges.
Judicabit in nationibus, implebit ruinas: * conquassabit capita in terra multo rum.
De torrente in via bibet: * propterea exaltabit caput.
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 thine 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 God-Man: 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 shall he lift up the head.
The following psalm commemorates the mercies of God to His people, the promised Covenant, the Redemption, His fidelity to His promises.
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 saeculum saeculi.
Memoriam fecit mirabilium suorum, misericors et miserator Dominus: * escam dedit timentibus se.
Memor erit in seculum testamenti sui: * virtutem operum suorum annuntiabit populo suo.
Ut det illis hereditatem Gentium: * opera manuum ejus veritas et judicium.
Fidelia omnia mandata ejus, confirmata in saeculum saeculi: * facta in veritate et aequitate.
Redemptionem misit populo suo: * mandavit in aeternum testamentum suum
Sanctum et terribile nomen ejus; * initium sapientiae timor Domini.
Intellectus bonus omnibus facientibus eum: * laudatio ejus manet in saeculum saeculi.
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: and being 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 come and will show forth to his people the power of his works.
That he may give them, his Church, the inheritance of the Gentiles: the works of his hands are truth and judgement.
All his commandments are faithful, confirmed for ever and ever: made in truth and equity.
He hath sent Redemption to his people, and this Re deemer will soon appear: 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 con tinueth for ever and ever.
The third psalm sings the happiness of the just man, and his hopes on the day of our Lordís second coming. It also tells us what will be the confusion of the sinner on that terrible day.
Beatus vir, qui timet Dominum: * in mandatis ejus volet nimis.
Potens in terra erit semen ejus: * generatio rectorum benedicetur.
Gloria et divitiae in domo ejus: * et justitia ejus manet in saeculum saeculi.
Exortum est in tenebris lumen rectis: * misericors et miserator, et justus.
Jucundus homo, qui miseretur et commodat, disponet sermones suos in judicio: * quia in aeternum non commovebitur.
In memoria aeterna 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 pauperi bus, justitia ejus manet in saeculum saeculi: * cornu ejus exaltabitur in gloria.
Peccator videbit, et irascetur, dentibus suis fremet et tabescet: * desiderium peccatorum peribit.
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: he is merciful, and compassionate, and just.
Acceptable is the man that showeth mercy and lendeth: he shall order his words with judgement: 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 his teeth, and pine away: the desire of the wicked shall perish.
The fourth psalm is a canticle of praise to the Lord, who, from His high heaven, has taken pity on the fallen human race, and raised it up again by the Incarnation.
|Laudate, pueri, Dominum:
* laudate nomen Domini.
Sit nomen Domini benedictum: * ex hoc nunc et usque in saeculum.
A solis ortu usque ad occasum: * laudabile nomen Domini.
Excelsus super omnes gentes Dominus: * et super coelos gloria ejus.
Quis sicut Dominus Deus noster qui in altis habitat:* et humilia respicit in coelo 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 laetantem.
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 on 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.
The fifth psalm recalls the memory of the prodigies done under the ancient Covenant; this will naturally awaken within us the hope of seeing those things, which happened to the people of Israel in figure, realized at the coming of the Messias.
In exitu Israel de Aegypto:
* domus Jacob de populo barbaro.
Facta est Judaea 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 conversus 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, Domino, non nobis: * sed nomini tuo da gloriam.
Super misericordia tua, et veritate tua: * nequando dicant gentes: Ubi est Deus eorum?
Deus autem noster in coelo: * omnia quaecumque 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 odorabun t.
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 nostri: * et benedixit nobis.
Benedixit domui Israel: * benedixit domui Aaron.
Benedixit omnibus qui timent Dominum: * pusillis
Adjiciat Dominus super vos: * super vos, et super filios vestros.
Benedicti vos a Domino: * qui fecit coelum et terram.
Coelum coeli Domino: * terram autem dedit filiis homi num.
Non mortui laudabunt te, Domine: * neque omnes qui descendunt in infernum.
Sed nos qui vivimus, benedicimus Domino: * ex hoc nunc et usque in saeculum.
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 flock.
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 hill into fountains of waters.
Not to us, O Lord, not to us: but to thy name give glory.
For thy mercy, and for thy truthís 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 fear 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 Lordís: 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.
After these five psalms, a short lesson from the holy Scriptures is sung. It is called the Capitulum, or Little Chapter, because it is always very short. It will be found in its proper place for each Sunday. Then follows the hymn:
|Creator alme siderum,
Aeterna lux credentium,
Jesu, Redemptor omnium,
Intende votis supplicum.
Qui daemonis ne fraudibus
Commune qui mundi nefas
Cujus potestas gloriae
Te deprecamur, ultime
Virtus, honor, laus, gloria,
|O Jesus, thou kind Creator of the heavens,
eternal light of believers, and Redeemer of all mankind, hear the prayers
of thy suppliants.
Lest the world should perish by the fraud of the devil, thou, impelled by the vehemence of thy love for us, didst thyself become the remedy of all our weakness.
To expiate the sin of the whole world, thou didst come
How glorious is thy power, when, at the very sound of thy name, heaven and hell bend the trembling knee.
We beseech thee, dread Judge of the last day, defend us from our enemies by the armour of thy heavenly grace.
Power, honour, praise, and glory, be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the holy Paraclete, for ever and ever, Amen.
V. Rorate, coeli, desuper, et nubes pluant Justum.
R. Aperiatur terra et germinet Salvatorem.
V. Drop down dew, ye heavens, from above, and let the clouds rain the Just One.
R. Let the earth be opened, and bud forth a Saviour.
Here is sung the Magnificat antiphon which is given in the proper of each Sunday. After this the Church always sings at Vespers the canticle in which our blessed Lady, all full of the God whom she had within her womb, gave utterance, in the presence of St. Elizabeth, to the transports of her joy and gratitude. This canticle harmonizes most sweetly with the spirit of Advent, for it is during this very time that Mary is almost incessantly before our minds, as the beautiful Mother that bears her precious and divine Fruit. Let us therefore unite with her, in celebrating the matchless honour bestowed on her by God; the merits of that profound humility which rendered her worthy of such an honour; the overthrow of the proud spirits who are driven from heaven; and the exaltation of human nature, of itself so poor and miserable, to that high place from which angels fell.
Magnificat: * anima mea Dominum.
Et exsultavit spiritus meus: * in Deo salutari meo.
Quia respexit humilitatem ancillae suae: * 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 iniplevit bonis: * et divites dimisit inanes.
Suscepit Israel puerum suum: * recordatus misericordiae suae.
Sicut locutus est ad patres nostros: * Abraham et semini ejus in saecula.
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 spake 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 Sunday.
The Vespers end with the following versicles:
V. Benedicamus Domino.
R. Deo gratias.
V. Fidelium animae per misericordiam Dei requiescant in pace.
V. Let us bless the Lord.
R. Thanks be to God.
V. May the souls of the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace.
According to the monastic rite, it is as follows :-
R. breve. Ostende nobis Domine, * Misericordiam tuam.
V. Et salutare tuum da nobis: * Misericordiam. Gloria Patti, &c. Ostende.
| Short Resp. Show us, O Lord, * Thy mercy. Show us.
V. And grant us Thy salvation. * Thy mercy.
Glory be to the Father, etc.
Conditor alme siderum,
Aeterna lux credentium,
Christe Redemptor omnium,
Exaudi preces supplicum.
Qui condolens interitu
Mortis perire saeculum,
Salvasti mundum languidum,
Donans reis remedium:
Vergente mundi vespere,
Uti sponsus de thalamo,
Virginis matris clausula:
Cujus forti potentiae
Genu curvantur omnia,
Nutu fatentur subdita.
Te deprecamur, agie,
Venture judex saeculi,
Conserva nos in tempore,
Hostis a telo perfidi.
Laus, honor, virtus, gloria,
Deo Patri, et Filio,
Sancto simul Paraclito,
In saeculorum saecula.