Sunday evening worship at St Nicolas' can take a number of different forms. For up-to-date information about forthcoming services, see the Calendar.
Evensong or Evening Prayer is an ancient service. It was created by Thomas Cranmer in the 16th century from the sevenfold monastic cycle of prayer by combining the offices of Vespers and Compline. It is sung daily in most cathedrals, where it is usually known as Choral Evensong.
Evensong follows a form of words or liturgy form the Book of Common Prayer, the revised version of Cranmer's 1549 prayer book which was introduced into the Church of England in 1662.
The BCP is one of the treasures of English literature. Over four-and-a-half centuries, many of its words and phrases have seeped into the fabric of the English language and have shaped aspects of our thought and culture.
It takes less time than you would imagine to get used to praying in 16th century language. The text is beautiful. Its poetry and its unfamiliarity can reveal depths of meaning which more modern liturgies struggle to reach. The hymns that are sung during Evensong will vary from week to week and will sometimes be modern, but the service will usually include:
- a prayer of confession and an absolution
- the Lord's Prayer
- a Psalm
- a reading from the Old Testament
- the Magnificat or Song of Mary
- a reading from the New Testament
- the Nunc Dimittis
- the Creed or Affirmation of Faith
- a number of set prayers
- a sermon
You will find the full text of 1662 Evensong here.