Vespers is a prayer service that is part of the Divine Office and is used for prayer in the late afternoon or early evening. Here is a vespers service that I use in my personal evening devotions:

Opening

O God, come to my assistance.
O Lord, make haste to help me.
Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit;
as it was in the beginning, is now, and will be forever. Amen.

Psalmody

One or more psalms are prayed, beginning with Psalm 141.

Psalm 141

Let my prayer rise before you as incense;
the lifting up of my hands as the evening sacrifice.
O Lord, I call to you; come to me quickly;
hear my voice when I cry to you.
Let my prayer rise before you as incense;
the lifting up of my hands as the evening sacrifice.
Set a watch before my mouth, O Lord,
and guard the door of my lips.
Let not my heart incline to any evil thing;
let me not be occupied in wickedness with evildoers.
But my eyes are turned to you, Lord God;
in you I take refuge.
Strip me not of my life.
Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit;
as it was in the beginning, is now, and will be forever. Amen.

Let the incense of our repentant prayer ascend before you, O Lord, and let your lovingkindness descend upon us, that with purified minds we may sing your praises with the Church on earth and the whole heavenly host, and may glorify you forever and ever. Amen.

Choose other psalms to read, as time permits. I often use the psalms appointed in the Book of Common Prayer’s 30-Day Psalm Cycle. Each psalm is followed by the doxology:

Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit;
as it was in the beginning, is now, and will be forever. Amen.

Scripture Readings

The scripture readings are read. Silence for meditation follows each reading. When this Office is prayed alone, it is appropriate to make this reading one’s lectio divina and to stop for reflection whenever a “word” reveals itself to the heart.

One possible scripture reading that I sometimes use is the Moravian Daily Texts, available online here: Moravian Daily Texts.

Gospel Canticle (Magnificat, The Song of Mary – Luke 1:46-55)

My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord;
my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
for he has looked with favor on his lowly servant.
From this day all generations will call me blessed.
The Almighty has done great things for me,
and holy is his name.
He has mercy on those who fear him
in every generation.
He has shown the strength of his arm;
he has scattered the proud in their conceit.
He has cast down the mighty from their thrones,
and has lifted up the lowly.
He has filled the hungry with good things,
and the rich he has sent away empty.
He has come to the help of his servant Israel,
for he has remembered his promise of mercy,
the promise he made to our ancestors,
to Abraham and his children forever.

Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit;
as it was in the beginning, is now, and will be forever. Amen.

Prayers

One or more of the following prayers may be prayed:

Evening Prayer of Martin Luther

We give thanks to you, heavenly Father, through Jesus Christ your dear Son, that you have this day so graciously protected us. We beg you to forgive us all our sins and the wrong which we have done. By your great mercy defend us from all the perils and dangers of this night. Into your hands we commend our bodies and souls, and all that is ours. Let your holy angels have charge of us, that the wicked one have no power over us. Amen.

Evening Prayer of Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Lord my God, I thank you that you have brought this day to an end. I thank you that you allow body and soul to come to rest. Your hand was over me and has protected and preserved me. Forgive all weakness of faith and wrong of this day and help me gladly to forgive those who have done wrong to me. Let me sleep in peace beneath your protection and preserve me from the assaults of darkness. I commend to you those dear to me, I commend to you this house, I commend to you my body and soul. God, your holy name be praised. Amen.

The Prayer of Good Courage

O God, you have called your servants to ventures of which we cannot see the ending, by paths as yet untrodden, through perils unknown. Give us faith to go out with good courage, not knowing where we go, but only that your hand is leading us and your love supporting us; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Collect for Peace

O God, from whom come all holy desires, all good counsels, and all just works: Give to us, your servants, that peace which the world cannot give, that our hearts may be set to obey your commandments; and also that we, being defended from the fear of our enemies, may live in peace and quietness; through the merits of Jesus Christ our Savior, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, God forever. Amen.

Lord’s Prayer

Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name, thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread; and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us; and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever and ever. Amen.

Closing

Let us bless the Lord. Thanks be to God.
Almighty God, the Father, + the Son, and the Holy Spirit,
bless and preserve us. Amen.


Here are the other services in the Divine Office that I have shared for one’s personal devotions:

8 thoughts on “Vespers (Evening Prayer) for Personal Devotions

  1. Hi James. Thank you for sharing your various Daily Office devotions. I especially appreciate prayers from various people from church history. Often these prayers give me words that I wouldn’t be able to generate on my own. Or words lead me to pray in ways that wouldn’t occur to me. My wife and I both make use of the Daily Office from The Book of Common Prayer (2019). I don’t make use of it every morning, noon, and night, so to speak, but it does provide an anchor and resource for which I am grateful and by which I have been deeply blessed. I have no doubt that others will be similarly blessed as you share these prayers and devotions.

    Liked by 1 person

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