Singing Vespers: The Prayers

This article explains how to sing the block of prayers that follows the evening prokeimenon and readings of Vespers.

At Great Vespers

At Great Vespers, after the prokeimenon, and the readings and homily (if there is one), the cantor leads the responses to the Litany of Supplication. These are the same responses used for this litany at the Divine Liturgy, where it occurs after the readings and before the Cherubic Hymn.

Review the responses for the Litany of Fervent Supplication

Then the cantor and faithful sing the hymn, "Make us worthy, O Lord" (listen - harmonized):

Then the cantor leads the faithful in the Litany of Supplication, containing the most personal petitions. (We also sing these petitions at the Divine Liturgy, just before the Our Father, but with a different concluding prayer).

Review the responses for the Litany of Supplication

Remember: our responses to these petitions should never be a matter of routine. To the extent possible, we should make each petition (as well as the priestly prayer) our own, and the way we sing "Lord, have mercy" and "Amen" should make this clear.

On ordinary days, Vespers continues with the aposticha. On the eves of feasts, we begin the Litija; see Singing Vespers: The Procession.

At daily Vespers

The order of the litanies is slightly different at daily Vespers: tjhe petitions of the Litany of Fervent Supplication are either inserted just before the dismisal (where they make up the Litany of Daily Vespers), or omitted entirely on fasting days, when we use the longer penitential ending of the service.

Instead, we immediately chant the hymn "Make us worthy, O Lord", to the usual psalm tone:

Make us worthy, O Lord,
      to be kept sinless this evening.

Blessed are you, O Lord, the God of our fathers,
     and praiseworthy and glorious is your name forever. Amen.

May your mercy, O Lord, be upon us,
      for we have placed our hope in you.

Blessed are you, O Lord:
      teach me your commandments.
Blessed are you, O Master:
      make me understand your commandments.
Blessed are you, O Holy One:
      enlighten me with your commandments.

O Lord, your mercy is forever;
      despise not the work of your hands.

To you is due praise;
      to you is due a hymn;
to you is glory due, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit,
     now and ever and forever. Amen.

See Singing the Beginning Prayers for the details of singing hymns and prayers to a psalm tone. It is customary to make a small bow from the waist, or a reverence, when singing each of the three petitions begins "Blessed are you"; but the cantor should not make theses bows if it will disrupt his or her singing. (Simply make the sign of the cross instead.)

Then the cantor leads the faithful in the Litany of Supplication:

Review the responses for the Litany of Supplication

Daily Vespers continues with the aposticha; see the explanation in Singing Vespers: The Procession.