Ben Houge, Evening Prayer

Evening Prayer (1998, rev. 2002)

The setting was originally conceived for piano and congregation, with a cantor leading the congregation's song. Chord symbols are provided to encourage additional or alternate instrumentations. Unless otherwise noted, texts were adapted and centonized by myself, in accordance with the commission to compose strophic settings of these ancient hymns, psalms, canticles, and prayers.

This setting of the office of Evening Prayer was commissioned by the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America in 1998, along with settings of Morning Prayer and eight Psalms. Most of this music was premiered at the Alive In Christ conference, held in Orlando, Florida, in November 1998.

In 1999, "Now the Day Has Drawn to a Close" and two pieces from my setting of Morning Prayer were published by Augsburg Fortress in the Worship & Praise hymnal. I've arranged three of these pieces for SATB choir a cappella as Service of Light: Three Pieces for Evening Prayer, available directly from me.

Download the sheet music for these pieces here (right click and select "Save Target As..."). You will need to install Finale's free NotePad application to view and print these files.

A simple order of worship in which these pieces may be used follows.

Gather in silence.

The first three pieces constitute the Service of Light, the traditional opening of Evening Prayer. Stand as light is brought into the sanctuary.

"Now the Day Has Drawn to a Close" [listen]

The phrases may be sung in alternation with the cantor, and the entire song may be repeated indefinitely. Text is by the composer. The melody may also be used to intone alternate texts, such as the appropriate versicles for the day.

Candles may be lit, in accordance with ancient church tradition.

"Joyous Light of Glory (Phos Hilaron)" [listen]

The congregation sings this hymn together. This ancient Greek text was adapted by the composer from existing translations.

"Thanksgiving and Blessing" [listen]

The text of the Blessing is from the Book of Common Prayer. Sung by the cantor, with congregational responses.

Extinguish the candles and be seated.

"Let My Prayer Rise Before You as Incense (Psalm 141)" [listen]

The whole assembly may sing the entire Psalm, or the cantor may sing the verses with the congregation joining on refrain.

Silence for mediation follows the Psalm. Additional Psalms are chanted or read, each followed by silence.

An appropriate hymn is sung, during which the congregation stands.

Appropriate lessons are read, with silence following each reading.

The congregation stands.

"My Soul Magnifies the Lord (Magnificat)" [listen]

The whole assembly may sing the entire canticle, or the cantor may sing the verses with the congregation joining on refrain.

"Intercessions" [listen]

The intercessions are intoned above a repeating ostinato figure, which requires coordination on the part of the cantor and accompanist, but need not detract from the prayer of the congregation. It is helpful for the cantor to sustain the final note of each petition until one beat before the congregational refrain and to provide a visual invitation to sing.

The Lord's Prayer is prayed.

(At this point, an offering, anthem, hymn, and sermon or homily may be inserted.)

The service concludes with a benediction. Depart in silence.