When Do You Sit For Vespers?
  • francisfrancis
    Posts: 8,869
    We are sitting after the 1st line of the 1st verse of the the 1st Psalm. Is this correct? If so, where did this tradition come from? Why?
  • Simon
    Posts: 127
    We usually sing vespers antiphonally - after the first half of the first verse in the first psalm, the side of the choir that is not singing that verse, sits. When they commence singing the second verse, the other half of the choir sits. Where does this tradition come from? Don't know really but it is practice in many monastic communities I have visited. It is actually quite practical as the flow of the singing isn't disturbed by the act of sitting. The oldest tradition, I believe, is to sing the whole office standing. This is why misericords were introduced in the choir stalls - to relieve the long stand in some offices as well as to assist the infirmed. There is an illuminating article on misericords and their history on Wikepedia. On origins of misericords it states: Prayers in the early medieval church for the daily divine offices (Matins, Lauds, Prime, Terce, Sext, None, Vespers, and Compline) were said standing with uplifted hands. Those who were old or infirm could use crutches or, as time went on, misericordia (literally "act of mercy"). Seating was constructed so that the seats could be turned up, the undersides being provided with a small shelf thus allowing a person a small level of comfort by leaning against it. Like most other medieval woodwork in churches, they were usually carved with skill and often show detailed scenes which belie their hidden position underneath the seats, especially in the choir stalls of the quire around the altar.
  • RobertRobert
    Posts: 343
    Right, the way I've seen it done and the way our choir has been learning is for everyone to sit at the asterisk of the first verse, with a longer than normal pause--singing does not resume until all are seated and settled. Then at the last verse, another long pause at the asterisk while everyone rises, so that all are in position to bow at the Gloria Patri. Musically the longer pause might seem a bit awkward, but it seems the most dignified way to handle sitting during the psalms.
  • francisfrancis
    Posts: 8,869
    Hmmm... Are there any docs that discuss these finer points? I do not see anything in the GILH.
  • JamJam
    Posts: 636
    Never. You stand for everything in the East. Chairs are for old people!

    But, from time to time I pray Vespers with my Latin rite friends. We sit during the psalms and reading, and stand for everything else, if I remember correctly. We sit before the psalms begin and stay sitting until the Magnificat.