What is Vespers?

Evening Prayer

Vespers is part of the centuries-old tradition of the Liturgy of the Hours, which is the daily prayer of the Church.  It uses the psalms and other Biblical texts.  Morning Prayer (Lauds) and Evening Prayer (Vespers) are the two most important hours.

The Liturgy of the Hours consists mostly of praying the psalms.  Jesus and the Apostles prayed the psalms, at home, in the synagogue, and in the Temple, especially in community, and at regular times in the morning, afternoon, and evening.  The Psalter was Jesus' prayer book.  Early Christians understood that the Psalms referred to Jesus and the Holy Spirit, and they wanted to maintain the tradition of praying together as a means for sanctifying the day.  Many Christian traditions celebrate some form of the Liturgy of the Hours, especially Morning Prayer (Lauds) and Evening Prayer (Vespers), including Catholics (both Western and Eastern Rites), Lutherans (and here), Episcopalians, Presbyterians, Methodists, and Orthodox Churches. 

The psalms themselves are beautiful.  Psalm 42: "Like the deer that thirsts for running streams, so my soul yearns for you, my God."  Psalm 118: "The stone which the builders rejected has become the cornerstone.  This is the work of the Lord, a marvel in our eyes."  Psalm 40: "I wait for the Lord who bends down to me and hears my cry, draws me up from the pit of destruction, out of the muddy clay, sets my feet upon rock, steadies my steps, and puts a new song in my mouth, a hymn to our God."

The psalms allow us to be emotional with ourselves, with the world, and with God.  They teach us how to be in God's presence.  The Liturgy of the Hours is a way to mark the time, to sanctify it, and to pray without ceasing.  Christians have been praying the Hours for over 2000 years.  Even if not everyone can pray every hour, someone, somewhere is, which benefits us all.

Texts and Music

Translated and Simplified Tradition

We primarily use the texts and music from the Mundelein Psalter, which bears the name of the Mundelein Seminary in Illinois.  It includes music from Fr. Samuel Weber, a monk from Saint Meinrad Archabbey in Indiana.  The Mundelein Psalter uses English translations of the psalms that are currently approved for use by the Catholic Bishops in the United States.  It incorporates chanted hymns that are centuries old, translated into English by Fr. Weber.  Its primary focus is to simplify the chants so that anyone can join in, even after only a few minutes.