Evensong

Evensong is a service of sung evening prayer that dates back to the 1549 Prayer Book created by Thomas Cranmer, then Archbishop of Canterbury. It combines the ancient offices of Compline and Vespers into a worship experience that is uniquely Anglican in nature. St. Peter’s Church holds Evensong services throughout the year in observance of festival days or other events in the life of the parish or diocese.

Evensong is an office service, and as such is led by an officiant who need not be a member of the clergy. The majority of the service is sung by the officiant and members of the choir. A typical Evensong at St. Peter’s does not include a homily.

Ministers of the Service

The following roles participate in Evensong:

  • Officiant - Leads the service by singing the prayers; the officiant need not be a member of the clergy

  • Choir - Leads the service by singing the responses to the prayers, the psalm, and the Magnificat and Nunc Dimittis canticles

  • Torchbearers - Two torchbearers participate in the entering and retiring procession and light and extinguish the candles on the high altar

  • Crucifer - Along with the torchbearers, the crucifer leads the entering and retiring procession

  • Lector - The lector reads the lessons appointed for the day

  • Thurifer - The thurifer administers incense during the Magnificat

Service Preparations

High Altar

The altar should be prepared in the color of the day, with the office lights lit by the torchbearers at least 10 minutes before the start of the service. No missal or other altar preparations are required for this service.

Vestments

Clergy are attired in choir dress - black cassock, white surplice, tippet, and academic hood. It is appropriate for the officiant to wear a cope in the liturgical color of the day. The choir is attired in black cassock and surplice with academic hoods as appropriate. All other servers are attired in black cassock and surplice. The lector does not vest.

Incense

Prior to the start of the service, the thurifer places the fire alarm system into test mode and prepares the thurible with a single coal and has it ready in the sacristy for use during the Magnificat. The thurifer does not carry the thurible in procession.

Entering Procession

Procession for Evensong is from the rear of the church following standard practice. At the sound of the bell, the crucifer and torchbearers lead the procession, followed by the choir and then by the officiant. If there are other ministers or clergy participating in the service, they process ahead of the officiant.

The crucifer and torchbearers lead the procession to the altar, place the processional cross and torches in their normal places and take seats in the back row of the Gospel-side stalls in the Quire.

Rather than processing to the altar rail, the officiant reverences from the top of the Quire steps, and then takes his or her place in the second row of the Gospel-side stalls. If there are any other clergy participating in the service, they are seated in the second row of the Epistle-side stalls.

The Service

Opening Sentences

The officiant says one or more opening sentences from the prayer book.

Preces

All ministers and the congregation stand while the officiant leads the choir in singing the Preces.

Psalm

All are seated while the choir sings the psalm appointed for the day.

First Lesson

All are seated while the lector reads the first lesson.

Office Hymn

All stand to sing the office hymn. During the hymn, the officiant moves to the sedilia to await the thurifer for censing the altar. The thurifer exits to retrieve the thurible and boat from the sacristy.

Magnificat

All stand while the choir sings the Magnificat. During the Magnificat, the thurifer passes the thurible to the officiant, who censes the altar following the standard form. After censing the altar, the officiant censes the thurifer, and then passes the thurible back to the the thurifer. Following the guidelines set forth in “Order of Incensing and Number of Swings” in the thurifer guide, the thurifer censes other clergy and servers, the choir, and the congregation, and then exits.

When the Gloria is reached, all clergy, servers, and congregants should bow during the text, “Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost.”

Second Lesson

All are seated while the lector reads the second lesson.

Nunc Dimittis

All stand while the choir sings the Nunc Dimittis.

When the Gloria is reached, all clergy, servers, and congregants should bow during the text, “Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost.”

Creed

All stand and face the high altar to chant the Apostle’s Creed, bowing at the name of Jesus and at the mention of the Incarnation, Crucifixion, and Resurrection.

The Prayers

The officiant and choir sing the prayers. All kneel after the officiant sings, “Let us pray” and remain kneeling until the final collect has been sung.

Greeting and Announcements

All are seated while the officiant or priest greets the congregation and makes any announcements. At the conclusion of the announcements, the officiant proceeds to the sedilia and is seated for the singing of the anthem.

Offertory

The choir sings the anthem for the day. Ushers collect plate offering from congregation, but do not bring the offering forward to the altar.

Prayers at the Altar and Blessing

All kneel for the prayers, which the officiant leads kneeling at the altar. Once the prayers have concluded, the officiant says the blessing and dismissal.

Retiring Procession

NOTE: At this service, the office lights remain burning until after the retiring procession.

The crucifer and the torchbearers meet at the the altar facing the altar. At the cue from the crucifer, all turn to face the West door. All choir members and clergy in the choir turn to face the crucifer, and at the cue from the crucifer, all bow to reverence the cross, and then turn to face the West door. The crucifer begins the procession, leading the choir down the center aisle to the West door.

Post-Service

Office and Lectern Lights

The office and lectern lights are put out by the torchbearers following the retiring procession.

Thurifer

The thurifer cleans and stores the thurible and returns the fire alarm system to normal operation.