First and Second Vespers
  • Could someone kindly clarify for this old, retired organist/choir director/conductor the differences, liturgically and in rubrics, between first and second vespers? Thank you.
  • chonakchonak
    Posts: 8,900
    To start with the simple point, First Vespers is celebrated on the evening before a Sunday or feast day; Second Vespers is observed on the day itself.

    I'm not aware of any ceremonial differences between them, but perhaps some more experienced people can add information in that area, if there are relevant customs.
  • The Magnificat antiphon is frequently different. Friday, for example, was the feast of St. Joseph, and the Magnificat antiphon at 1st Vespers was Christus Dominus fabri filius putari dignatus est, alleluia, but for 2nd Vespers it wasEt ipse Jesus erat incipiens quasi annorum triginta, ut putabatur filius Joseph, alleluia
  • irishtenoririshtenor
    Posts: 1,241
    That’s pretty much it, in my experience, Chonak. When I was a seminary music director, we celebrated them pretty much identically, except (as you said) EP I (first Vespers) is on Saturday evening, for example, and EP II (second Vespers) is on Sunday evening.

    The texts are as found in the breviary. Just follow directions.
  • chonakchonak
    Posts: 8,900
    Would it be more common to add Benediction to the Second Vespers? Is it possible to celebrate Vespers before the exposed Sacrament?
  • Irishtenor,

    Remembering, of course, that 1st Vespers isn't limited to Sunday, did your seminary celebrate 1st Vespers only for Sundays, in choro?


    On the Purification (Feb 2nd), which is a 2nd class feast but which can be a 1st class feast, the antiphons are different for the entire psalter, 1st vs. 2nd Vespers, but the psalter is the same.
  • a_f_hawkins
    Posts: 3,016
    For the OF, I can see no distinction, except one which does not affect anything but timing of the celebration.
    GILH 96: ... First Vespers ... may not be celebrated until after the Mass of the previous day or the Saturday.
  • SalieriSalieri
    Posts: 3,040
    In Ye Olde Dayes, First Vespers for Major Feasts tended to be celebrated with more solemnity, which can be seen, for instance in the more elaborate chants of some of the Magnificat Antiphons and in the Benedicamus tone; also, in some uses (Benedictine, Sarum, etc.), in the melismatic responsories sung after the captitulum (short chapter/reading), whereas Second Vespers always has just the short responsory.

    I think it is more common for Benediction to be added to Second Vespers, if only because II Vespers of Sunday is the most common office to be said publicly. The office Coram Sanctissimum (with the Blessed Sacrament exposed) is possible, but it complicates things, at least in the EF. IIRC, Forescue/O'Connell/Reid suggest reserving it for the most solemn occasions or during Forty Hours
    Thanked by 1tomjaw
  • a_f_hawkins
    Posts: 3,016
    In the OF Exposition and Benediction are now defined to be liturgical services, so there are rubrics not just customs. These are more recent than the Office rubrics, so they need to be checked if you are combining them. Some comments here.
  • irishtenoririshtenor
    Posts: 1,241

    Yes, you are certainly correct that a fair number of other feasts and solemnities (other than Sundays) will have an EP I which should be said/sung on the preceding evening. When I was teaching/musicking at the seminary, EP I (on Saturdays) was typically not prayed together as a community, but on one's own. When feasts and solemnities fell Monday thru Friday, we would celebrate EP I all together.
  • Rivegauche,

    Is your situation EF or OF? There may be other differences which haven't come up yet .... I took Irishtenor to be describing EF Vespers, but from his most recent post, it's clear that he's not.
  • tomjaw
    Posts: 2,323
    Our O.F. parish only celebrates E.F. Vespers, so the following Rubrics are more or less what we follow,
    This should give you more than enough information, I have no idea what they do at N.O. Vespers.
  • Andrew_Malton
    Posts: 1,055
    Just noting that prior to 1955, feasts typically had first vespers, and only second vespers if they were important enough to supersede the first vespers of the following day's feast. That's because traditionally the day began in the evening, civilly and liturgically, the latter custom only changing with Cum hæc nostra ætate in 1955.

    Since then, and very much in the novus ordo, the more important feasts have a first vespers, but all have the second.

    I like the old way better.
    Thanked by 2CHGiffen tomjaw
  • a_f_hawkins
    Posts: 3,016
    Surely in the non-liturgical aspects, the church's day has run from midnight since the Edict of Milan in 313 ?
    Code of Canon Law 1917: Can. 202 з1. In law, a day is understood as a period consisting of 24 continuous hours and begins at midnight unless other provision is expressly made; ... .
    And changing the liturgical day would take more than this :-
    Cum hæc nostra ætate 1955 :
    d) Other changes
    11. First Vespers (whether entire, or a capitulo, or by way of
    commemoration) pertain only to feasts of the first and second class
    and Sundays.