Singing Vespers: The Conclusion

This article explains how to lead the singing of the final part of Vespers, from the Prayer of Simeon ("Now you may dismiss your servant") to the dismissal.

The Prayer of the Prophet Simeon

At Great Vespers, the cantor and congregation since the Prayer of Simeon using the following melody:

listen - harmonized version

Be careful: in some parishes, it became a custom to add a sharp at certain points in the hymn which was not in the original Slavonic melody. These notes are marked below; listen for them in the recording and be sure to sing them correctly!

listen to the Slavonic version

By contrast, at daily Vespers, the prayer is chanted to the usual psalm tone:

Now you may dismiss your servant, O Lord,
     in peace according to your word;
for my eyes have seen your salvation
     which you have prepared before the face of all people,
a light for revelation to the Gentiles,
     and the glory of your people Israel.

Holy God and the Trisagion Prayers

The Prayer of Simeon is followed by the Trisagion ("Holy God") and the prayers that go with it. At Great Vespers, we sing "Holy God" to the same melody we just used for the Prayer of Simeon:

Then we chant the remaining prayers to the usual psalm tone. Listen to a harmonized version of the Prayer of Simeon followed by the Trisagion.

At daily Vespers, we chant both Holy God and the prayers that follow to the usual psalm tone:

Holy God, Holy and Mighty, Holy and Immortal,
     have mercy on us. (3 times)

Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit,
     now and ever and forever. Amen.

Most Holy Trinity, have mercy on us; Lord, cleanse us of our sins;
Master, forgive our transgressions;
     Holy One, come to us and heal our infirmities for your name's sake.

Lord, have mercy. Lord, have mercy.
      Lord, have mercy.

Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit,
     now and ever and forever. Amen.

Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name.
Thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread,
and forgive us our trespasses
as we forgive those who trespass against us,
and lead us not into temptation,
     but deliver us from evil.

Then the priest intones the doxology:

For thine is the kingdom and the power and the glory, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, now and ever and forever.

and the cantor and people respond with the usual "short" Amen:

short Amen

For more about the use of a psalm tone to chant prayers, refer to Singing the Beginning Prayers.

The troparia

Now we sing the troparia of the day, according to the Typikon.

These troparion are an important part of the changeable hymns sung at Vespers, and the cantor should always prepare for them in advance.

The blessing of bread

If Litija is celebrated at Great Vespers, then we can normally expect to have the blessing of bread after the troparia. But it is always a good idea to check with the celebrating priest to be sure - especially since the order of the tropaia is slightly different depending on whether bread is blessed or not.

If bread is blessed, then immediately after the troparia, the deacon (or priest) will intone:

Let us pray to the Lord.

And the response, as always, is

Then the priest says the prayer of blessing, and the people respond, "Amen" (using the short melody).

Then the priest sings "Blessed be the name of the Lord" once, and the people sing it twice more. Traditionally, the following music is used:

This music for "Blessed be the name of the Lord" is also found in the Divine Liturgies book, as melody C. Since it is strongly associated with feast-days through the blessing of bread, it is often sung at the Divine Liturgy precisely for major feasts on which there will be mirovanije, or the festal anointing and distribution of blessed bread,

The cantor and people chant Psalm 33 to the usual psalm tone while the blessed bread, wheat, wine, and oil are taken into the sanctuary until after the service. Finally, the priest blesses the people, who respond:

The entire service of the blessing of bread is found at the back of the MCI Sunday Vespers book, on pages 119-120.

One more litany

At daily Vespers, of course, there will never be a blessing of bread. Instead, we chant the Litany of Fervent Supplication that was omitted earlier in the service of daily Vespers, just after the prokeimenon.

When the Litany of Fervent Supplication is sung at daily Vespers, the first two petitions ("Let us all say..." and "O Lord almighty...") are omitted, and the litany begins with "Have mercy on us, O God..." The responses are otherwise identical to those sung at the Divine Liturgy and Great Vespers.

The dismissal

Finally, the deacon intones, "Wisdom!", and we begin the dismissal. The responses from here to the end are all chanted to the usual psalm tone.

At Great Vespers, and at daily Vespers on Friday evenings:

The people request a blessing:

The priest blesses, saying "Blessed is Christ our God...." and the people respond:

Then they continue:

O God, strenghen the true faith
     forever and ever.

and the priest intones:

Most holy Theotokos, save us!

As noted above, this blessing is part of Great Vespers, and of daily Vespers on Friday evening. Then we continue:

At all Vespers services:

The cantor and faithful chant:

More honorable than the cherubim,
and beyond compare most glorious than the seraphim,
     who, a virgin, gave birth to God the Word,
     you, truly the Theotokos, we magnify.

The priest exclaims:

Glory to you, O Christ God, our hope; glory to you!

And the people glorify God as well, chanting:

Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit,
    now and ever and forever. Amen.

Lord, have mercy. Lord, have mercy. Lord, have mercy.
     Give the blessing.

Then the priest intones the dismissal ("May Christ our God.... for Christ is gracious and loves us all.) and the cantor and faithful respond:

Vespers has come to an end.

Notes on the dismissal