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'''Vespers''' (''εσπερινός'') is first service of the [[
Daily Cycle]] of divine services celebrated in the [[ Orthodox Church]]. Because the liturgical day begins at sunset, Vespers is traditionally served in the early evening. For many parishes, Vespers is the principal evening service.
Structure of Great Vespers ==*Great Vespers opens with the [[ priest]]'s exclamation ''Blessed is our God ...'' and the [[ Trisagion Prayers]]. (Note: the Trisagion Prayers are omitted if Great Vespers immediately follows the service of the [[Ninth Hour]].)*The Proemial Psalm (Psalm 103 ''Bless the Lord, O my soul ...'') is read, during which the [[priest ]] quietly prays the seven Prayers at the Lighting of the Lamps.*The [[ deacon]] intones the Litany of Peace.
*The [[Psalter#Kathismata|kathisma]] appointed for the day is chanted or read. Following the kathisma, the deacon intones the Small Litany.
*Psalms 140, 141, 129, and 116 (''Lord, I have cried unto Thee ...'') are chanted in the appointed tone. [[sticheron|Stichera]] appointed for the day or season are alternated with the final verses. During this chanting, the deacon performs the great censing.
*The priest and deacon make the Small Entrance.
*The hymn ''[[Phos Hilaron|O Gladsome Light]]'' is sung.
*The vesperal [[prokeimenon]] is chanted. If an [[
Old Testament]] reading is appointed, it follows the prokeimenon.
*The deacon intones the Ektenia.
*The evening prayer ''Vouchsafe, O Lord'' is prayed.
*The Hymn of St. [[Simeon the God-receiver]] (also called the ''Nunc Dimittis'') is chanted or read, depending on local custom.
*The Trisagion Prayers are prayed.
apolytikion]] and [[theotokion]] are chanted.
*The priest gives the final blessing and offers the [[Great Dismissal]].
=== Special Forms ===
*'''''Lenten Daily Vespers''''' is served on the weekdays of Great Lent, unless the Liturgy of the Presanctified Gifts is celebrated. For Monday through Thursday evenings, the general Daily Vespers form is altered by the inclusion of special lenten apolytikia, prostrations, special lenten prayers (including the prayer of
St. [[ Ephraim the Syrian]]), and an additional Psalter reading. The final Ektenia is omitted. On Friday nights, the lenten apolytikia are not included and the final Ektenia is retained.
*'''''Lenten Sunday Vespers''''' is served on the Sunday evenings of Great Lent. The service begins as Great Vespers. After the Small Entrance, one of two lenten Great Prokeimena is chanted and the prayer ''Vouchsafe, O Lord'' is said. The remainder of the service follows the order of Lenten Daily Vespers, with slight changes.
*'''''Forgiveness Vespers''''' is served on the evening of [[Forgiveness Sunday]] and is the first service of Great Lent. Forgiveness Vespers follows the order of Lenten Sunday Vespers but after the Great Prokeimenon the clergy exchange their bright vestments for dark and the choir begins to use distinctive lenten tones. Following the dismissal, the community celebrates the moving and beautiful rite of mutual forgiveness. See also [[
Great Lent]].*'''''Vespers of the Sunday of Orthodoxy''''' is served on the evening of the first Sunday of Great Lent ([[Sunday of Orthodoxy]]). Traditionally, this should follow the order of Sunday Lenten Vespers; however, it has become a popular custom in North America for all Orthodox parishes and missions in a particular locale to observe the Sunday of Orthodoxy at a special, joint pan-Orthodox Vespers service, concelebrated by the clergy of the various jurisdictions represented. Although the form of this joint service varies from place to place, it often includes a procession with holy icons and repeat an abbreviated form of the [[Synodicon of Orthodoxy]] adopted by the [[ Seventh Ecumenical Council]]. Often a lenten fellowship meal is shared after the service.
*'''''Vespers of Holy Friday''''' (sometimes called the ''Unnailing Vespers'') follows the usual order of Great Vespers, but omits the kathisma and includes both an Epistle and Gospel reading after the Old Testament readings. During this service the clergy remove the [[corpus]] (soma) icon of Christ from the cross in the middle of the nave, wrapping it with a white cloth. The [[epitaphios]] is then placed in the tomb and venerated by the faithful.
*'''''Agape Vespers''''' is served on the evening of [[Pascha]]. It follows the order of Great Vespers. After the prokeimenon the Gospel account of the empty tomb ([[John]] 20:19-25) is read. It is customary to read this [[pericope]] in many different languages, demonstrating the universal nature of the Good News of Christ's victory over sin and death. It is also customary for the clergy and the people to make a procession around the Church during the chanting of the aposticha.
=== Liturgy of the Presanctified Gifts ===
On Wednesdays and Fridays of [[
Great Lent]] and on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday of [[ Holy Week]], Vespers is combined with a eucharistic distribution and certain elements of the [[ Divine Liturgy]] to form the [[Liturgy of the Presanctified Gifts]].
=== Vesperal Divine Liturgy ===
Great Vespers is combined with the [[
Divine Liturgy]] of St. Basil the Great on [[ Holy Week|Holy Thursday]] and [[Holy Saturday]]. This combination is also appointed to be served on the eves of the [[ Nativity]] of Christ and [[ Theophany]] when those feasts fall on any day other than Sunday or Monday.
According to some traditions, when the feast of the [[Annunciation]] falls on a weekday of Great Lent or during the first three days of Holy Week, the festal Divine Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom is combined with Great Vespers on the day of the feast itself.
*[http://www.saintjonah.org/services/vespers.htm Vespers as a Reader Service]
Sources ==* ''The Liturgikon: The Book of Divine Services for the Priest and Deacon'', Bishop [[Basil (Essey) of Wichita]] (ISBN 0962419001)* [http://www.networks-now.net/litresswraoc/Services.htm Website of the St. Raphael Clergy Brotherhood of the Diocese of Wichita and Mid-America]
Category: Liturgics ]]