Order of Service

Today's services

Westminster Abbey

Friday, 31st May 2024

17:00

The Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary to St Elizabeth

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 Lay Vicars of Westminster Abbey.

Following the service, a collection will be takenthe money from today's services will be divided equally between The Prince's Trust and the work of the Abbey. The Prince's Trust helps young people from disadvantaged communities and those facing the greatest adversity by supporting them to build the confidence and skills to live, learn, and earn.


Order of Service


The choir sings the Introit

Oculi omnium in te sperant, Domine,
   et tu das escam illorum in tempore opportuno.

Gloria tibi, Domine. Amen.

The eyes of all look to you, O Lord, and you give them their food in due season.

Glory to you, O Lord. Amen.

Words: Psalm 145: 15
Music: Nico Muhly (b 1981)


All stand as the choir and clergy enter


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 Psalms 122, 127, and 128

I was glad when they said unto me : We will go into the house of the Lord.
Our feet shall stand in thy gates : O Jerusalem.
Jerusalem is built as a city : that is at unity in itself.
For thither the tribes go up, even the tribes of the Lord : to testify unto Israel, to give thanks unto the name of the Lord.
For there is the seat of judgement : even the seat of the house of David.
O pray for the peace of Jerusalem : they shall prosper that love thee.
Peace be within thy walls : and plenteousness within thy palaces.
For my brethren and companions' sakes : I will wish thee prosperity.
Yea, because of the house of the Lord our God : I will seek to do thee good.

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.

Except the Lord build the house : their labour is but lost that build it.
Except the Lord keep the city : the watchman waketh but in vain.
It is but lost labour that ye haste to rise up early, and so late take rest, and eat the bread of carefulness : for so he giveth his beloved sleep.
Lo, children and the fruit of the womb : are an heritage and gift that cometh of the Lord.
Like as the arrows in the hand of the giant : even so are the young children.
Happy is the man that hath his quiver full of them : they shall not be ashamed when they speak with their enemies in the gate.

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.

Blessed are all they that fear the Lord : and walk in his ways.
For thou shalt eat the labours of thine hands : O well is thee, and happy shalt thou be.
Thy wife shall be as the fruitful vine : upon the walls of thine house.
Thy children like the olive-branches : round about thy table.
Lo, thus shall the man be blessed : that feareth the Lord.
The Lord from out of Sion shall so bless thee : that thou shalt see Jerusalem in prosperity all thy life long.
Yea, that thou shalt see thy children's children : and peace upon Israel.

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.

Chants: plainsong


All sit for the first Lesson, Zechariah 2: 10–end

Sing and rejoice, O daughter Zion! For lo, I will come and dwell in your midst, says the Lord. Many nations shall join themselves to the Lord on that day, and shall be my people; and I will dwell in your midst. And you shall know that the Lord of hosts has sent me to you. The Lord will inherit Judah as his portion in the holy land, and will again choose Jerusalem.

Be silent, all people, before the Lord; for he has roused himself from his holy dwelling.

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.

First Service, Philip Moore (b 1943)


All sit for the second Lesson, John 3: 25–30

A discussion about purification arose between John's disciples and a Jew. They came to John and said to him, 'Rabbi, the one who was with you across the Jordan, to whom you testified, here he is baptizing, and all are going to him.' John answered, 'No one can receive anything except what has been given from heaven. You yourselves are my witnesses that I said, "I am not the Messiah, but I have been sent ahead of him." He who has the bride is the bridegroom. The friend of the bridegroom, who stands and hears him, rejoices greatly at the bridegroom's voice. For this reason my joy has been fulfilled. He must increase, but I must decrease.'

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.

First Service, Philip Moore


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 grace Elizabeth rejoiced with Mary and greeted her as the mother of the Lord: look with favour, we beseech thee, on thy lowly servants, that, with Mary, we may magnify thy holy name and rejoice to acclaim her Son our Saviour, who liveth and reigneth with thee, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. 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

Beata es, Virgo Maria, quae Dominum portasti creatorem mundi: genuisti eum, qui te fecit, et in aeternum permanes virgo. Alleluia!

'Ave Maria gratia plena, Dominus tecum.'

Blessed are you, O virgin Mary, who bore the Lord, the Creator of the universe. You brought forth him who made you, and remain forever a virgin. Alleluia!

'Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with you.'

Words: anonymous and Luke 1: 28b
Music: Philippe Verdelot (c 1480–c 1540)


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

Now in holy celebration
   sing we of that Mother blest,
in whose flesh for our salvation
   God incarnate deigned to rest,
when her cousin's salutation
   named in faith the mystic guest.

Lo, the advent Word confessing,
   spake for joy the voice yet dumb,
through his mother's lips addressing
   her, of motherhood the sum,
bower of beauty, blest and blessing,
   crowned with fruit of life to come.

'Whence,' she cried, at that fair meeting,
   'comes to me this great reward?
For when first I heard the greeting
   of the Mother of my Lord,
in my womb, the joy repeating,
   leapt my babe in sweet accord!'

Lo, at that glad commendation
   joy found voice in Mary's breast
while in holy exultation
   she her Maker's power confessed,
at whose word each generation
   now henceforward names her blest.

Triune Godhead, health supplying,
   Ruler of eternity,
on the fount of grace relying,
   we uplift our hearts to thee,
praying that in realms undying
   we at one with Life may be.

Words: 'Festum Matris gloriosae' 15th century, translated by Laurence Housman (1865–1959)
Tune: 'Oriel' 470 NEH, in C Ett's 'Cantica sacra' Munich, 1840


All remain standing as the choir and clergy depart


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


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Today's Services

Friday, 14th June 2024
7.30am Morning Prayer Quire
said
8.00am Holy Communion St Faith's Chapel
said
12.30pm Holy Communion Nave
said
5.00pm Evensong Quire
sung by the Choir of Westminster Abbey

Howells I will lift up mine eyes
Martin Responses
Victoria Magnificat primi toni
Victoria Nunc dimittis tertii toni
Byrd Prevent us, O Lord

View Order of Service