Like Sunday mornings the Sunday evenings at St. Stephen’s are also steeped in the Anglo-Catholic Tradition. Each Sunday Evening the service of Evensong, that is Sung Evening Prayer, will be conducted.
Unlike Mass the service of Evensong can be led by a lay Officiant.
Ring of the Bell
As with Mass the service of Evensong begins with the Ringing of a Bell to announce to the Congregation that the service is beginning.
Unless it is a special service the Officiant of the service will make his or her way from the Vestry near the Altar to his or her seat.
The Officiant will then formally begin the service by reading aloud one or more of the Sentences of scripture found on pages 17 or 18 of the maroon Book of Common Prayer.
Exhortation and Confession
The Officiant will then read an Exhortation to the faithful, and then a Confessional prayer. If the Officiant is a Priest he or she will read the Absolution. A Deacon or Layman will read a Collect.
The Lord’s Prayer
The Officiant will then lead the Congregation through the Lord’s Prayer with the Doxology “For thine is the Kingdom…”
The Officiant and Congregation will go through a series of short, responsive prayers called the Preces.
The Congregation will then sing one or more Psalms.
The First Lesson
The Officiant or another person will then read the First Lesson, which is usually taken from the Old Testament.
The Congregation will then sing the canticle Magnificat, which is taken from St. Luke 1.46-55.
If this is a Solemn Evensong then the Officiant will Cense the Altar during the canticle.
The Second Lesson
The Officiant or another person will then read the Second Lesson, which is usually taken from the New Testament.
The Nunc Dimittis
The Congregation will then sing the canticle Nunc Dimittis, which is taken from St. Luke 2.29-32.
At some services, especially when Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament is part of the service, the Antiphon “Preservice us, O Lord, while waking…” will be recited before and after the Canticle.
The Apostles Creed
The Congregation will then sing the Apostles Creed
The Officiant and Congregation will then go through a series of Versicles and Responses called the Suffrages that includes the short version of the Lord’s Prayer.
The Officiant will then say the Collect(s) of the Day along with the Collect for Peace and the Collect for Aid against all Perils.
At a Solemn service the Officiant will say these facing the Altar while servers holding standards (also called torches) flank him or her.
If Evensong is combined with Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament then that service will begin after the Collects have been read.
Offertory and Offertory Hymn
Then will be Sung the Offertory Hymn at which time an Offering will be taken and then presented at the Altar
On some occasions a Sermon will be given, but this is usually the exception.
The Prayer of St. John Chrysostom and The Grace
The Officiant will then say the Prayer of St. John. Chrysostom, asking that the prayers of the faithful be granted by God. The Officiant then formally dismisses the faithful by saying The Grace which is taken from 2 Corinthians 13.14.
The Congregation will then sing a Closing Hymn
The Angelus or Regina Coeli
The Officiant will then lead the Faithful through the Angelus or Regina Coeli depending on the Church season. This is not part of Evensong, but is an additional Devotion added to the service.