Order of Service

Today's services

Westminster Abbey

Monday, 24th June 2024

17:00

The Birth of St John the Baptist

Evensong

Welcome to Westminster Abbey. Daily prayer has been offered in this place for over a thousand years, and your participation in today's service is warmly welcomed. At choral Evensong most of the service is sung by the choir on our behalf. We participate through our presence and our listening, that the words and the music might become a prayer within us and lift us to contemplate God's beauty and glory.

The service always includes one or more psalms. These ancient prayers, taken from the Old Testament, reflect the full range of human emotions and experiences; from the depths of anger, resentment, and abandonment to the heights of ecstatic joy and praise. They were used by Jesus, and have always been at the heart of the Church's daily prayer.

The canticles Magnificat (Luke 1: 46–55) and Nunc dimittis (Luke 2: 29–32) reflect two responses to the Incarnation (God becoming fully human in Jesus Christ). Both speak of the fulfilment of God's promises, not just to 'Abraham and his seed', but also 'to be a light to lighten the Gentiles' (all nations). With their themes of fulfilment and completion, these texts have been given central place for many centuries in the Church's prayers for the evening and at the end of the day.

Please join in saying the words and singing the hymn printed in bold type.

The church is served by a hearing loop. Users should turn their hearing aid to the setting marked T.

Photography, filming, and sound recording are not allowed in the Abbey during services. Please ensure that mobile telephones and other electronic devices are silent.

The service is sung by the Choristers.

Following the service, a collection will be takenthe money from today's services will be divided equally between Christian Aid and the work of the Abbey. Christian Aid exists to create a world where everyone can live a full life, free from poverty.


Order of Service


All stand as the choir and clergy enter


The choir sings the Introit

O lux beata Trinitas,
Et principalis Unitas,
Iam sol recedit igneus,
Infunde lumen cordibus.

Te mane laudum carmine,
Te deprecemur vesperi,
Te nostra supplex gloria
Per cuncta laudet saecula.

Christum rogamus et Patrem,
Christi Patrisque Spiritum;
Unum potens per omnia,
Fove precantes, Trinitas.
   Amen.

O Trinity, O blessed light, and primal Unity: now as the fiery sun recedes, pour light into our hearts.

In the morning we praise you with song, in the evening to you we pray. Let our humble worship praise you throughout the ages.

We beseech Christ and the Father and the Spirit who is of both: O one almighty Trinity, guard those who pray to you. Amen.

Words: anonymous, 4th century
Music: plainsong


All remain standing as the officiant introduces the Confession

Beloved, we are come together in the presence of Almighty God and of the whole company of heaven to offer unto him through our Lord Jesus Christ our worship and praise and thanksgiving; to make confession of our sins; to pray, as well for others as for ourselves, that we may know more truly the greatness of God's love and show forth in our lives the fruits of his grace; and to ask on behalf of all people such things as their well-being doth require. Wherefore let us sit or kneel and keep silence, and remember God's presence with us now.


All kneel or sit to say together

O God, our Father,
we have sinned against thee
in thought, word, and deed;
we have not loved thee with all our heart;
we have not loved our neighbour as ourselves.
Have mercy upon us, we beseech thee;
cleanse us from our sins;
and help us to overcome our faults;
through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Amen.


The officiant gives the Absolution

May the almighty and merciful Lord grant unto you pardon and remission of all your sins, time for amendment of life, and the grace and comfort of the Holy Spirit. Amen.


All say together the 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,
the power, and the glory,
for ever and ever.
Amen.


All stand. The officiant and choir sing the Responses

O Lord, open thou our lips
and our mouth shall shew forth thy praise.

O God, make speed to save us.
O Lord, make haste to help us.

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost;
as it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.

Praise ye the Lord.
The Lord's name be praised.

Music: plainsong


All sit. The choir sings Psalm 82

God standeth in the congregation of princes : he is a judge among gods.
How long will ye give wrong judgement : and accept the persons of the ungodly?
Defend the poor and fatherless : see that such as are in need and necessity have right.
Deliver the outcast and poor : save them from the hand of the ungodly.
They will not be learned nor understand, but walk on still in darkness : all the foundations of the earth are out of course.
I have said, ye are gods : and ye are all the children of the most Highest.
But ye shall die like men : and fall like one of the princes.
Arise, O God, and judge thou the earth : for thou shalt take all heathen to thine inheritance.

All stand

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost;
as it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.

Chant: plainsong


All sit for the first Lesson, Malachi 4

See, the day is coming, burning like an oven, when all the arrogant and all evildoers will be stubble; the day that comes shall burn them up, says the Lord of hosts, so that it will leave them neither root nor branch. But for you who revere my name the sun of righteousness shall rise, with healing in its wings. You shall go out leaping like calves from the stall. And you shall tread down the wicked, for they will be ashes under the soles of your feet, on the day when I act, says the Lord of hosts.

Remember the teaching of my servant Moses, the statutes and ordinances that I commanded him at Horeb for all Israel.

Lo, I will send you the prophet Elijah before the great and terrible day of the Lord comes. He will turn the hearts of parents to their children and the hearts of children to their parents, so that I will not come and strike the land with a curse.

Here ends the first lesson.


All stand. The choir sings Magnificat

My soul doth magnify the Lord,
   and my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour.
For he hath regarded the lowliness of his hand-maiden.
   For behold, from henceforth all generations shall call me blessed;
for he that is mighty hath magnified me,
   and holy is his name.
And his mercy is on them that fear him
   throughout all generations.
He hath shewed strength with his arm;
   he hath scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts.
He hath put down the mighty from their seat,
   and hath exalted the humble and meek;
he hath filled the hungry with good things,
   and the rich he hath sent empty away.
   He remembering his mercy
hath holpen his servant Israel,
as he promised to our forefathers,
   Abraham and his seed, for ever.

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son,
and to the Holy Ghost;
as it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be,
world without end. Amen.

Evening Canticles in C minor, George Dyson (1883–1964)


All sit for the second Lesson, Matthew 11: 2–19

When John heard in prison what the Messiah was doing, he sent word by his disciples and said to him, 'Are you the one who is to come, or are we to wait for another?' Jesus answered them, 'Go and tell John what you hear and see: the blind receive their sight, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the poor have good news brought to them. And blessed is anyone who takes no offence at me.'

As they went away, Jesus began to speak to the crowds about John: 'What did you go out into the wilderness to look at? A reed shaken by the wind? What then did you go out to see? Someone dressed in soft robes? Look, those who wear soft robes are in royal palaces. What then did you go out to see? A prophet? Yes, I tell you, and more than a prophet. This is the one about whom it is written,
"See, I am sending my messenger ahead of you,
  who will prepare your way before you."
Truly I tell you, among those born of women no one has arisen greater than John the Baptist; yet the least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he. From the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven has suffered violence, and the violent take it by force. For all the prophets and the law prophesied until John came; and if you are willing to accept it, he is Elijah who is to come. Let anyone with ears listen!

'But to what will I compare this generation? It is like children sitting in the market-places and calling to one another,
"We played the flute for you, and you did not dance;
   we wailed, and you did not mourn."
For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they say, "He has a demon"; the Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, "Look, a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax-collectors and sinners!" Yet wisdom is vindicated by her deeds.'

Here ends the second lesson.


All stand. The choir sings Nunc dimittis

Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace,
   according to thy word;
for mine eyes have seen thy salvation,
   which thou hast prepared before the face of all people,
to be a light to lighten the Gentiles
   and to be the glory of thy people Israel.

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son,
and to the Holy Ghost;
as it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be,
world without end. Amen.

Evening Canticles in C minor, George Dyson


All face east to say together the Apostles' Creed

I believe in God the Father almighty,
maker of heaven and earth:
and in Jesus Christ his only Son our Lord,
who was conceived by the Holy Ghost,
born of the Virgin Mary,
suffered under Pontius Pilate,
was crucified, dead, and buried.
He descended into hell;
the third day he rose again from the dead;
he ascended into heaven,
and sitteth on the right hand of God the Father almighty;
from thence he shall come to judge the quick and the dead.
I believe in the Holy Ghost;
the holy catholic Church;
the communion of saints;
the forgiveness of sins;
the resurrection of the body;
and the life everlasting.
Amen.


The Lord be with you.
And with thy spirit.

Let us pray.

All kneel or sit. The officiant and choir sing the Lesser Litany; the Lord's Prayer and the Responses

Lord, have mercy upon us.
Christ, have mercy upon us.
Lord, have mercy upon us. 

Our Father, which art in heaven, hallowed be thy name; thy kingdom come; thy will be done, in earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive them that trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation; but deliver us from evil. Amen.

O Lord, shew thy mercy upon us.
And grant us thy salvation.

O Lord, save The King.
And mercifully hear us when we call upon thee.

Endue thy ministers with righteousness.
And make thy chosen people joyful.

O Lord, save thy people.
And bless thine inheritance.

Give peace in our time, O Lord.
Because there is none other that fighteth for us, but only thou, O God.

O God, make clean our hearts within us.
And take not thy Holy Spirit from us.


The officiant sings the Collects; of the day, for peace, and for aid against all perils

Almighty God, by whose providence thy servant John Baptist was wonderfully born, and sent to prepare the way of thy Son our Saviour, by preaching of repentance; make us so to follow his doctrine and holy life, that we may truly repent according to his preaching; and after his example constantly speak the truth, boldly rebuke vice, and patiently suffer for the truth's sake; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

O God, from whom all holy desires, all good counsels and all just works do proceed: Give unto thy servants that peace which the world cannot give; that both our hearts may be set to obey thy commandments, and also that by thee we being defended from the fear of our enemies may pass our time in rest and quietness; through the merits of Jesus Christ our Saviour. Amen.

Lighten our darkness we beseech thee, O Lord; and by thy great mercy defend us from all perils and dangers of this night; for the love of thy only Son, our Saviour, Jesus Christ. Amen.

Music: plainsong


All sit. The choir sings the Anthem

Gaudent in caelis animae sanctorum, qui Christi vestigia sunt secuti: et quia pro ejus amore sanguinem suum fuderunt, ideo cum Christe exsultant sine fine.

The souls of the saints rejoice in heaven, those who follow the footsteps of Christ: and because for him they have shed their blood, they exult with Christ for ever.

Words: Magnificat antiphon, Feast of several martyrs
Music: Richard Dering (c 1580–1630)


All kneel or remain seated for the Intercessions


The officiant says the Prayers; for the Royal Family, and for the Members of the Order of the Bath

Almighty God, the fountain of all goodness, we humbly beseech thee to bless our most gracious Sovereign Lord King Charles, Queen Camilla, William Prince of Wales, the Princess of Wales, and all the Royal Family: endue them with thy Holy Spirit; enrich them with thy heavenly grace; prosper them with all happiness; and bring them to thine everlasting kingdom, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

God save our Gracious Sovereign, and all the Members of the Most Honourable Order of the Bath living and departed. Amen.


All say

The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ,
and the love of God,
and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit,
be with us all evermore.
Amen.


All stand to sing the Hymn

On Jordan's bank the Baptist's cry
announces that the Lord is nigh;
come then and hearken, for he brings
glad tidings from the King of kings.

Then cleansed be every Christian breast,
and furnished for so great a guest!
Yea, let us each our hearts prepare
for Christ to come and enter there.

For thou art our salvation, Lord,
our refuge and our great reward;
without thy grace our souls must fade,
and wither like a flower decayed.

Stretch forth thine hand to heal our sore,
and make us rise, to fall no more;
once more upon thy people shine,
and fill the world with love divine.

All praise, eternal Son, to thee
whose advent sets thy people free,
whom, with the Father, we adore,
and Spirit blest, for evermore.
   Amen.

Words: 'Jordanis oras praevia' Charles Coffin (1676–1749), translated by John Chandler (1808–76)
Tune: 'Winchester New' 12 NEH, in 'Musicalisches Hand-Buch' Hamburg, 1690


All remain standing as the choir and clergy depart


Those who wish to may sit for the remainder of the organ voluntary


CHORISTERSHIPS AT WESTMINSTER ABBEY

Enquiries are welcomed at any time. 

If you have a daughter aged 10 or 11 who would like to sing with the St Margaret's Choristers, please contact the Director of Music at St Margaret's, Greg Morris (email). Further details can be found here.

If you have a son who enjoys singing and you would like further details of the world-renowned Abbey Choir and its unique choir school, please click here.

Dr Emma Margrett, Head, Westminster Abbey Choir School, Dean's Yard, London, SW1P 3NY, 020 7222 6151 email

Mr Andrew Nethsingha, Organist and Master of the Choristers, The Chapter Office, 20 Dean's Yard, London, SW1P 3PA, 020 7654 4854 email


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