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THE CHOIR'S HANDBOOK

 

GREAT VESPERS

 

 

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 After the Dismissal of the Ninth Hour the Priest shall say:

 

PRIEST

Blessed is our God always, now and for ever: world without end.

READER: Amen.

O come, let us worship and bow down before our King and our God.

O come, let us worship and bow down before Christ our King and our God.

O come, let us worship and bow down before the very Christ our King and our God.

 

THE INTRODUCTORY PSALM 103 [104]

Bless the Lord, O my soul. O Lord my God, Thou art very great; Thou hast clothed Thyself with praise and honour: who dost robe Thyself with light as a garment; spreading out the heavens as a curtain. Who covers His chambers with waters; who makes the clouds his chariots: who walks on the wings of the wind. Who makes His angels spirits, and His ministers a flaming fire. Who establishes the earth on her sure foundation: it shall not be moved forever. The deep, as it were a garment, is His covering: the waters shall stand on the hills. At Thy rebuke they shall flee; at the voice of Thy thunder they shall be alarmed. They go up to the mountains, and down to the plains, to the place which Thou hast founded for them. Thou hast set a bound which they shall not pass, neither shall they turn again to cover the earth. He sends forth His fountains among the valleys: the waters shall run between the mountains. They shall give drink to all the wild beasts of the field: the wild asses shall take of them to quench their thirst. By them shall the birds of the sky lodge: they shall utter a voice out of the midst of the rocks. He waters the mountains from His chambers: the earth shall be satisfied with the fruit of thy works. He makes grass to grow for the cattle, the green herb for the service of men, to bring bread out of the earth; and wine makes glad the heart of man, to make his face cheerful with oil: and bread strengthens man’s heart. The trees of the plain shall be full of sap; even the cedars of Lebanon which He has planted. There the sparrows will build their nests; and the house of the heron takes the lead among them. The high mountains are a refuge for the stags, and the rock for the rabbits. He appointed the moon for seasons: the sun knows his going down. Thou didst make darkness, and it was night; in it all the wild beasts of the forest will be abroad: even young lions roaring for prey, and to seek meat for themselves from God. The sun arises, and they shall be gathered together, and shall lie down in their dens. Man shall go forth to his work, and to his labour till evening. How great are Thy works, O Lord! In wisdom hast Thou wrought them all: the earth is filled with Thy creation. So is this great and wide sea: there are things creeping innumerable, small animals and great. There go the ships; and this dragon whom Thou hast made to play in it. All wait upon Thee, to give them food in due season. When Thou hast given it them, they will gather it; and when Thou hast opened Thine hand, they shall be filled with good. But when Thou hast turned away Thy face, they shall be troubled: Thou wilt take away their breath, and they shall fail, and return to their dust. Thou shalt send forth Thy Spirit, and they shall be created; and Thou shalt renew the face of the earth. Let the glory of the Lord be for ever: the Lord shall rejoice in His works; who looks upon the earth, and makes it tremble; who touches the mountains, and they smoke. I will sing to the Lord while I live; I will sing praise to my God while I exist. Let my meditation be sweet to Him: and I will rejoice in the Lord. Let the sinners fail from off the earth, and transgressors, so that they shall be no more. Bless the Lord, O my soul.

The sun knows his going down, Thou didst make darkness, and it was night.

How great are Thy works, O Lord! In wisdom hast Thou wrought them all.

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit, now and for ever: world without end. Amen.

Alleluia. Alleluia. Alleluia. Glory be to Thee, O God. [3]

Our hope, glory be to Thee, O Lord.

 

And the Deacon shall say the Great Litany:

In peace let us pray unto the Lord.

CHOIR: Kyrie eleison or Lord have mercy. And after each petition.

For the peace from on high…

For the peace and union...

For this holy temple…

For our Archbishop  …

For this city [or monastery or village]

For fair seasons…

For them that travel by land…

That we may be delivered…

Succour, save, have mercy…

Mindful of our Most Holy and undefiled…

CHOIR: To Thee, O Lord.

PRIEST: For unto Thee belong all glory….

CHOIR: Amen.

In monasteries there now follows the reading of the 1st Kathisma from the Psalter. If the feast is for a celebrating saint, then only the first reading of the 1st Kathisma is read; after which the Deacon shall say the short litany.

Again and again in peace let us pray unto the Lord.

CHOIR: Kyrie eleison or Lord have mercy. And after each petition.

Succour, save, have mercy…

Mindful of our most holy and undefiled…

CHOIR: To Thee, O Lord.

PRIEST: For Thine is the might…

CHOIR: Amen. 

And the choir shall sing psalm 140 [141] “Lord, I cry unto Thee” in the tone of the week or the tone of the first hymn of the Feast.

Lord, I cry unto Thee: make haste unto me. Make haste unto me, O Lord. Lord, I cry unto Thee: make haste unto me; give ear unto my voice, when I cry unto Thee. Make haste unto me, O Lord.

Let my prayer be set forth before Thee as incense; and the lifting up of my hands as the evening sacrifice. Make haste unto me, O Lord.

Set a watch, O Lord, before my mouth; keep the door of my lips.

Incline not my heart to any evil thing, to practice wicked works with men that work iniquity, and let me not eat of their dainties. 

Let the righteous smite me; it shall be a kindness; and let him reprove me; it shall be an excellent oil. Which shall not break my head: for yet my prayer also shall be in their calamities.

When their judges are overthrown in stormy places, they shall hear my words; for they are sweet.

Our bones are scattered at the grave’s mouth, as when one cutteth and cleaveth wood upon the earth.

But mine eyes are unto Thee, O God the Lord: in Thee is my trust; leave not my soul destitute.

Keep me from the snares which they have laid for me, and the gins of the workers of iniquity.

Let the wicked fall into their own nets, whilst that I withal escape.

PSALM 141 [142]

I cried unto the Lord with my voice; with my voice unto the Lord did I make my supplication.

I poured out my complaint before Him; I shewed before Him my trouble.

When my spirit was overwhelmed within me, then Thou knewest my path. In the way wherein I walked have they privily laid a snare for me.

I looked on my right hand, and beheld, but there was no man that would know me: refuge failed me; no man cared for my soul.

I cried unto Thee, O Lord: I said, Thou art my refuge and my portion in the land of the living.

Attend unto my cry; for I am brought very low: deliver me from my persecutors; for they are stronger that I.

 

And then the following as verses before the appointed hymns according to the number to be sung.

10

Bring my soul out of prison, that I may praise Thy name.

The righteous shall compass me about; for thou shalt deal bountifully with me

 

8

PSALM 129 [130]                                     

Out of the depths have I cried unto Thee, O Lord. Lord hear my voice.

Let Thine ears be attentive to the voice of my supplications.

 

6

If Thou, Lord, shouldest mark iniquities, O Lord, who shall stand? But there is forgiveness with Thee, that Thou mayest be feared.

I wait for the Lord, my soul doth wait, and in His word do I hope. My soul waiteth for the Lord.

4

More than they watch for the morning: I say, more than they watch for the morning. Let Israel hope in the Lord.

For with the Lord there is mercy, and with Him is plenteous redemption. And He shall redeem Israel from all his iniquities.

2

PSALM 116 [117]  

O praise the Lord, all ye nations: praise him, all ye people.

For His merciful kindness is great toward us: and the truth of the Lord endureth for ever.

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit.

And the Choir shall sing the appointed hymn for the Glory.

Now and for ever: world without end. Amen.

And the Choir shall sing the Theotokion: on Saturdays in the tone of the week, on other Feasts in the tone of the Glory.

 

The Priest and Deacon shall now make the Entrance with the censer.

DEACON: Wisdom. Stand steadfast.

And the choir shall sing the Evening Hymn “O Gladsome light”, but if there be two or more priests then they shall sing the hymn and the choir shall take up the last line “Wherefore the world glorifies Thee”.

O Gladsome light of the holy glory, of the Immortal Father, heavenly, holy, blessed, Jesus Christ. As we approach the setting of the sun, and see the evening light, we hymn Thee, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, God.

Meet it is at all times for Thee to be praised by righteous voices, O Son of God, the Giver of life. Wherefore the world glorifies Thee.

DEACON: The evening prokhimenon.

And the choir shall sing the evening prokhimenon according to the day of the week.

 

SATURDAY:  Tone 6

The Lord reigneth, He is clothed with majesty.

The Lord is clothed with strength, wherewith He hath girded Himself.

The world also is stablished, that it shall not be moved.

 

SUNDAY:  Tone 8

Behold, bless ye the Lord, all ye servants of the Lord.

Ye that stand in the house of the Lord, in the courts of the house of our God.

 

MONDAY:  Tone 4

The Lord will hear me when I cry unto Him.

When I called upon Thee, Thou didst hear me, O God of my righteousness.

 

TUESDAY:  Tone 1

Thy mercy, O Lord, shall follow me all the days of my life.

The Lord is my shepherd, therefore shall I lack nothing.

 

WEDNESDAY:  Tone 5

Save me, O God, by Thy name, and judge me by Thy might.

O God, hear my prayer, hearken unto the words of my mouth.

THURSDAY:  Tone 6

My help shall come from the Lord, who made heaven and earth.

I lifted up mine eyes unto the hills, from whence my help shall come.

 

FRIDAY:  Tone 7

God, Thou art my defender, Thy mercy shall go before me.

Deliver me from mine enemies, O God, and ransom me from those that rise up against me.

 

THE GREAT PROKHIMENA OF THE LORD’S FEASTS

Tone 7

Who is so great a God as our God? Thou only art the God that doest wonders.

Thou hast made known Thy power  among the nations.

And I said, Now have I begun to understand; this is the change wrought by the right hand of the Most High.

I remembered the works of the Lord:  for I will remember Thy wonders from the beginning.

Tone 7

Our God is in heaven and on earth: He hath done whatsoever He hath pleased.

When Israel went out of Egypt, the house of Jacob from a people of strange language;

The sea saw it, and fled: Jordan was driven back.

What ailed thee, O thou sea, that thou fleddest? thou Jordan, that thou wast driven back?

Then after the prokhimenon, if there are lessons from the Old Testament appointed to be read [normally there are 3 readings commonly called the prophecies], the Reader shall announce the reading and the Deacon shall say before each:

Wisdom. Let us give heed.

If the readings are from the New Testament [commonly called the Apostle], he shall say before each:

Let us give heed. Wisdom. Let us give heed.

After the readings the Deacon shall say the following petitions:

Let us all say with our whole soul…

CHOIR: Kyrie eleison or Lord have mercy. And after each petition.

O Almighty Lord, God of our fathers…

Have mercy upon us, O God…

Again we pray for our Archbishop…

Again we pray for mercy, life, peace…

Again we pray for the blessed…

Again we pray for them that strive…

PRIEST: For Thou art a merciful God…

CHOIR: Amen.

Vouchsafe, O Lord, to keep us this evening without sin. Blessed art Thou, O Lord God of our fathers, and praised and glorified is Thy name for evermore. Amen.

O Lord, let Thy mercy lighten upon us, as our trust is in Thee. Blessed art Thou, O Lord: teach me Thy statutes. Blessed art Thou, O Master: make me to understand Thy statutes. Blessed art Thou, O Holy One: enlighten me with Thy statutes. O Lord, Thy mercy is for ever: despise not the works of Thine hands. Unto Thee is due praise, unto Thee is due song, unto Thee is due glory, to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit, now and for ever: world without end. Amen.

 

DEACON

Let us complete our evening supplication unto the Lord.

CHOIR: Kyrie eleison or Lord have mercy. And after each petition.

Succour, save, have mercy…

That this whole evening may be perfect…

CHOIR: Grant us O Lord. And after each petition.

For an angel of peace, faithful guide…

For pardon and remission of our sins…

For things good and profitable to our souls…

That we may pass the remainder of our lives…

For a Christian ending to our life, painless…

Mindful of our most holy and undefiled…

CHOIR: To Thee, O Lord.

PRIEST: For Thou, O God, art good and loving-kind…

CHOIR: Amen.

PRIEST: Peace unto all.

CHOIR: And unto thy spirit.

DEACON: Let us bow down our heads before the Lord.

CHOIR: To Thee, O Lord.

PRIEST: O Lord our God, who bows the heavens…

Blessed and glorified is the power of Thy kingdom…

CHOIR: Amen.

The Lity follows when there is an offering of the five loaves; know as the “Breaking of Bread”. [See ‘The Breaking of Bread’]. But if there is no offering then the choir shall immediately sing the Aposticha. There are four Aposticha hymns sung on the Resurrection Vespers of Saturday evening. The first is sung without a verse, but the other three are preceded by a verse. On weekdays there are three Aposticha, the first sung without a verse and the other two preceded by a verse.

 

SATURDAY EVENING VERSES

The Lord reigneth, He is clothed with majesty. The Lord is clothed with strength, wherewith He hath girded Himself.

The world also is stablished, that it shall not be moved.

Holiness becomes Thine house, O Lord, for ever.

 

Feasts of the Lord, the Mother of God, the Precious Cross, the Angels, the Forerunner John the Baptist and many others, have their own special Aposticha verses. If certain Feasts of saints do not mention which verse is to be sung, the following verses may be used according to the rank of the saint.

 

APOSTLE [S]

His [Their] voice is gone out into all the earth, and his [their] words to the end of the world.

The heavens declare the glory of God, and the firmament sheweth His handywork.

HIERARCH [S]

My mouth shall speak of wisdom: and the meditation of my heart shall be of understanding.

Let Thy priests be clothed with righteousness; and let Thy saints shout for joy.

HIEROMARTYR [S]

The righteous shall flourish like the palm tree: He/They shall grow like a cedar in Lebanon.

The saints that are in His land, the Lord has magnified.

GREATMARTYR [S]

The righteous shall flourish like the palm tree: He/They shall grow like a cedar in Lebanon.

Those that be planted in the house of the Lord shall flourish in the courts of our God.

MARTYR [S]

God is wonderful in His saints.

The saints that are in His land, the Lord has magnified.

ASCETIC MEN

Blessed is the man that feareth the Lord, that delighteth greatly in His commandments.

Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of His saints.

ASCETIC WOMEN

I waited patiently for the Lord; and He inclined unto me.

He set my feet upon a rock, and established my goings.

 

After the Aposticha the Priest shall say the song of Symeon:

Lord, now lettest Thy servant depart in peace…

READER: Trisagion…

PRIEST: For Thine is the kingdom, the power and the glory…

CHOIR: Amen.

The choir shall then sing the Apolytikia hymns and the Theotokion.

DEACON: Wisdom.

 

PRIEST

Christ our God, the Supreme Being, is blessed always, now and for ever: world without end.

CHOIR: Amen. May the Lord God make firm the holy and undefiled faith of pious Orthodox Christians in this holy Church [monastery], this city [village], and in all Thy world, for ever and ever. Amen.

PRIEST: Most holy Mother of God, save us.

CHOIR: More honourable than the cherubim and past compare more glorious than the seraphim, who inviolate didst bear God

 the Word, very Mother of God, thee we magnify.

PRIEST: Glory be to Thee, O Christ our God and our hope, glory be to Thee.

CHOIR: Glory be to the Father and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit, now and for ever: world without end. Amen. Kyrie eleison [3]. Holy Father, give the blessing.

 

PRIEST:

May [He who is risen from the dead] Christ our true God…

By the prayers of our holy fathers, Lord Jesus Christ our God, have mercy upon us and save us.

CHOIR: Amen.