• Hi folks,

    We started doing Vespers on Sundays about a year ago (one of the requirements of a Minor Basilica). We've struggled with having very little participation from our parishioners. When I started at my post, there was no Vespers being done at our parish. I constructed something simple for the Psalter using the Meinrad Psalm Tones. It works great for an a cappella singing, and our organist at the time did a good job of harmonizing them based off of the organ accompaniments available. I'm thinking about using the Anglican Psalter for the Psalmnody starting this Fall.

    I'm wondering if anyone else doing Vespers on a regular basis has difficulty with attendance? If so, have you found anything that has helped bring the people in? We make regular announcements for it, and it preceeds our TLM. We've made it very clear that it isn't part of the TLM, but it seems that the majority of people that come to Vespers (anywhere from 4 to 9) stay for the Mass.

    Any suggestions or observations are welcome. Thanks!
    Thanked by 1StimsonInRehab
  • Barnabas,

    In our parish, Vespers follow Mass, not the other way around.

    I encourage you not to think of the success or failure in terms of mere numbers. Our once-monthly Vespers is sometimes well attended and sometimes less-well attended, but at least one family comes from 90 minutes away, coming for Mass, and staying for Vespers afterwards.


    I don't know Meinrad Psalm Tones, but is there any reason not to use the modes provided in the Liber?

    Especially if you're having trouble, turn the organist into a singer, not an accompanist for the singing.

    God bless your efforts,

    Chris
  • chonakchonak
    Posts: 6,771
    Bravo to barnabus1898 and company for taking steps to fulfill the obligations of a minor basilica, in particular the obligation to offer public celebrations of Vespers.

    Thanked by 1CHGiffen
  • smvanroodesmvanroode
    Posts: 624
    Is vespers celebrated in the EF or OF? In English or Latin?
  • ronkrisman
    Posts: 1,144
    We started doing Vespers on Sundays about a year ago (one of the requirements of a Minor Basilica).

    While I applaud any church, not just a minor basilica, that prays the Liturgy of the Hours communally, in all honesty I think the language of the 1989 norms, Domus Ecclesiae, nowhere reaches the level of strict obligation with regard to the praying of the Liturgy of the Hours. IMO those norms would be better if they did include a few debet's in the prescriptions.

    See http://www.adoremus.org/DomusEcclesiae.html
  • Chris, I understand where these would be ideal. We are bringing more traditional liturgical practice to a parish that views tradition as something from the past 40 years... I would love to do what is in the liber, and it would be beautiful. The difficulty with this could be summed up in the following reasons:

    1. None of our congregations are comfortable singing music acappella.

    2. At this point in time, they need the organ to know when to sing, to give them confidence, and to help our volunteers in the choir (most of them have never sung in a choir before).

    3. We have a shortage of organists in our area. I've done Vespers acappella by myself before, and it does work, but I find the people participate more with help from the organ. That being said, the only organist that could harmonize from and read chant just graduated and is persuing his Masters in another state. I'm trying to use resources that will have modern notation for any future organist that doesn't have this skill. If you know of a resource that does this for the liber tones, I'd love to know it!

    We do Vespers (OF) before the TLM so that people will not associate it with the Mass. Latin is a hard fought battle here, but we are incorporating it into our OF Masses slowly and surely. While most of our TLM crowd would gladly stay for Vespers in either form, we are worried that it would alienate people who still have an aversion to Latin (especially when people with this sentiment are the majority of our parish). I would also hate for people to be disruptive during the TLM entering for Vespers if we did it directly after Mass. Ultimately though, our Rector placed Vespers at that time, and I'd have to clear it with him before we suggested doing it at a later time.

    Lastly, we will do Vespers regardless of the attendance. I find that it has enriched my own prayer life significantly! I would just like to be able to share that with more of our parish, since it is spiritually enriching. I know there's the old adage: "You can lead a horse to water...", but I pray that people's hearts and minds will be changed by greater devotion to our God and King present in the Holy Eucharist. (I forgot to mention that every Vespers is accompanied with Exposition and Benediction).
    Thanked by 2CHGiffen JulieColl
  • MarkThompson
    Posts: 761
    Bravo to barnabus1898 and company for taking steps to fulfill the obligations of a minor basilica, in particular the obligation to offer public celebrations of Vespers.


    As the modern regulations are stated in Domus Ecclesiae (1989), there is no obligation to offer vespers, merely an exhortation that, among a variety of other bona exquirenda, "[t]he active participation of the faithful is to be promoted both in the eucharistic celebration and in the celebration of the liturgy of the hours, especially at Morning and Evening Prayer [Latin: praesertim vero ad Laudes et Vesperas]."

    It's certainly excellent news that at least one basilica is trying to do this; I wonder what the percentage of basilicas is that offers either lauds or vespers, to say nothing of lauds and vespers?
  • chonakchonak
    Posts: 6,771
    We've had articles about the privileges and duties of the basilica in Sacred Music journal, from canonist Duane L.C.M. Galles:
    Winter 1997: The Art of Basilica Making,
    Fall 1991: Inaugurating a New Basilica,
    and Summer 1990: Music for the Basilica.
    Thanked by 2CHGiffen eft94530
  • hartleymartin
    Posts: 1,447
    It helps if you can get all the clergy to participate in the Vespers.

    Do you do vespers with benediction? One good way to get people to attend is to start vespers with Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament and a Eucharistic hymn before beginning vespers. Then have Benediction with all that goes with it (Tantum Ergo, Divine Praises, thanksgiving hymn) Once people understand that Vespers is an act of worship before the blessed sacrament they'll join in.

    Another idea is to alternate between Cantors and Congregation (with the choir supporting the congregation.)
    Thanked by 1StimsonInRehab
  • bonniebede
    Posts: 716
    Sacrosanctum Concilium
    100. Pastors of souls should see to it that the chief hours, especially Vespers, are celebrated in common in church on Sundays and the more solemn feasts. And the laity, too, are encouraged to recite the divine office, either with the priests, or among themselves, or even individually.
    Thanked by 2Adam Wood CHGiffen
  • Hartley, we do have Benediction during Vespers. We already had Benediction in place at that time, so we wrapped Vespers around it. I've been very encouraged after beginning to read "The Sign of the Cross" by St. Francis de Sailles. If he only had 5 souls present for Mass for his first year, then I can take solace in the work of the ministry and the graces poured out by it. I will continue to pray for my parish and the nourishment of her parishioners' souls. Maybe in a few years the devotion will really take root.

    We're trying to instill Catholicism back into the culture. It is difficult since it is predominately Protestant, but patience and prayer can accomplish much! Thanks for the advice friends!
  • Barnabus,

    I think you mean St. Francis de Sales.

    How -- seriously -- do you wrap Vespers around Benediction?
  • Ben YankeBen Yanke
    Posts: 3,099
    If anyone interested in combining vespers and exposition, I have the proper ritual typed up somewhere on my computer, we do it once a month at my parish.
    Thanked by 1BruceL
  • SalieriSalieri
    Posts: 2,045
    How -- seriously -- do you wrap Vespers around Benediction?

    Vespers Coram Sanctissimum: it's in Fortescue.
  • BruceL
    Posts: 944
    For what's it's worth, try doing recitals/sacred music concerts before Vespers.

    Now, before you throw tomatoes at me...

    We did this last year before Advent Vespers (the only time of the year we have Sunday vespers) and it was a big hit. Three of the weeks were organ recitals, one was organ and sacred arias (mostly from the Bach Magnificat). Attendance in 2012 per Sunday: 20-30; attendance in 2013 per Sunday: 50-90 (it varied).

    Two thoughts:
    1) No one clapped! We advertised these as a prayerful prelude to the office that followed. I have to say, it was very edifying to hear great music without the distraction of applause, and there was a palpable sense that this was prayer.
    2) The people who would attend a recital of that sort SHOULD and MUST be exposed to traditional liturgy. Our Vespers is all in English (except maybe the hymn and Mag); however, it is all also sung to chant (and notated with chant notation). Many parishioners enjoyed the prayerfulness of an all-chanted office (we did use organ accompaniment) and many visitors had never been to a Catholic liturgy of this sort. They all greatly enjoyed it and were happy to see a Catholic place doing it this way.

    Anyhow, it's not a silver bullet, but an idea.
  • Bruce,

    Is your building conducive to a spirit of prayer? Is it acoustically alert? These criteria probably help a prayerful prelude serve its purpose.

    Cheers,

    Chris
  • BruceL
    Posts: 944
    Yes, to both accounts. It's by far the best acoustic for traditional sacred music in central Alabama. I also find the decoration very nice. Of course, I'm a little biased since I was also married here in 2009, long before the job was on the radar at all! image
  • kevinfkevinf
    Posts: 982
    Bruce, it wasn't always that way. In the 1980s it was rotten.
    Thanked by 1BruceL
  • How -- seriously -- do you wrap Vespers around Benediction?


    This book is a must-have on the shelf of every music director, pastor, sacristan, etc.
    Thanked by 1BruceL
  • BruceL
    Posts: 944
    Kevin, I know. We just found some centennial newspapers. What they did to it in the 1970s was unspeakable. At least they changed it, and the current configuration is ideal in my mind. It's even more impressive (the interior reno) when you realize it was like 1992, when not much good aesthetically was going on. Current rector has reoriented the cathedra and sedilla and made some little changes that add up, too.
  • Speaking of Saint Francis de Sales:

    FURTHERMORE, my daughter, you should endeavour to assist at the Offices,
    Hours, Vespers, etc., as far as you are able, especially on Sundays and
    Festivals, days which are dedicated to God, wherein we ought to strive to do
    more for His Honour and Glory than on others. You will greatly increase the
    fervour of your devotion by so doing, even as did S. Augustine, who tells us
    in his Confessions, that in the early days of his conversion he was touched
    to the quick, and his heart overflowed in happy tears, when he took part in
    the Offices of the Church.

    Introduction to the Devout Life, Part II, Chapter XV


    Keep up the good work, Barnabus! We've just recently started singing weekly Vespers as well, and our numbers are slowly but surely improving.
  • Thanks! We had about 7 people show up yesterday, and they were SINGING! It was wonderful!
  • In our parish, we have Sung Vespers first, and then Benediction.

  • hartleymartin
    Posts: 1,447
    A rough outlines of "Vesperdiction":

    Exposition - O Salutaris Hostia or some other suitable hymn

    Vespers - begins with versacle "O God, come to our aid"

    Vespers continues in all parts. Traditionally the priest incenses the congregation during the Magnificat. End as usual, except for the dismissal "Go In Peace"

    Benediction begins with Tantum Ergo, continues as usual.

    Typically concludes with with a blessing then a hymn of thanksgiving. Selected verses from "HolyGod We Praise Thy Name" but may conclude with Te Deum on Feasts and Solemnities.
  • GavinGavin
    Posts: 2,799
    So much about ritual - why not attract people with food or some other attraction? I was once part of a regular compline service, and everyone would bring a selection of soups or salads. We'd have a simple meal together before worship - sort of a monastic style event. It was a draw for some people.
    Thanked by 3chonak Adam Wood BruceL
  • hartleymartin
    Posts: 1,447
    I thought that it was a given that there would be tea, coffee and biscuits after every liturgy. Certainly it is common in my area to have a gathering in the church hall afterwards. It is also usual for groups of friends to get together and have lunch or dinner at a local restaurant.
  • We have Mass immediately after Vespers, but several of us from the TLM crowd share a meal afterwards. Most of the people coming to Vespers are staying for the TLM, but we're trying to get more of our NO parishioners to participate in Vespers without feeling like they have to also participate in the TLM since most have already met their Sunday obligation by that time...
  • We were planning on doing a monthly series in our apostolate called "Tea and Vespers", which would include Vespers/Benediction followed by English Tea; or as we were going to advertise it: "High Vespers (according to Fortescue) and High Tea (according to Post)".
  • thenovice
    Posts: 5
    A rough outlines of "Vesperdiction":

    Exposition - O Salutaris Hostia or some other suitable hymn

    Vespers - begins with versacle "O God, come to our aid"

    Vespers continues in all parts. Traditionally the priest incenses the congregation during the Magnificat. End as usual, except for the dismissal "Go In Peace"

    Benediction begins with Tantum Ergo, continues as usual.

    Typically concludes with with a blessing then a hymn of thanksgiving. Selected verses from "HolyGod We Praise Thy Name" but may conclude with Te Deum on Feasts and Solemnities.


    What if there is no Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament? Can we still sing the Te Deum for Vespers, even if it is presided by a lay person?
  • igneusigneus
    Posts: 197
    What if there is no Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament? Can we still sing the Te Deum for Vespers, even if it is presided by a lay person?


    Vespers presided by a lay person or ordained, don't do that. It makes no sense.

    If you are looking for some song to be added after the conclusion of Vespers, sing the seasonal final antiphon of B. V. M. (Salve Regina in Ordinary Time etc.), as LOTH rubrics suggest.