An Evening Song

As early as 60 AD, religious communities of monks and priests would stop their activity at marked times of the day to pray. That tradition evolved over the years into the Liturgy of the Hours. There are eight special times during the day to stop any work or study to come together as a group to pray, and one of those times is called ‘Vespers’, or Evening Song.

At the end of the work day, when the tasks and to-do lists were completed, it was finally time to return home. Going home is such a sweet thing for all of us – it’s a return to the familiar comfort of our dwelling, to rejoin with family and begin to unwind. The monks would take this time, in the waning light of the day, to lift up their praises for the gifts of the day.

 

 

In our family, we had a similar experience. I remember my mom calling us to the dinner table every night. We’d say grace together, and then being telling our stories. Things like what happened at school. What was new on the block. What were the plans for tomorrow. Chatter went on and on, making a joyful noise.

Both the communities of religious and the community of my family celebrated Vespers. The monks would sing in unison at a church, and my family would chat on, one by one at the dining room table, but the result was the same. We both celebrated the gifts of the Lord in the day that just unfolded itself in front of us.

Our Evening Prayer began with grace, and then continued to each child who had something to share. Test scores, hockey practice, swim meet results, who got sick and needed help – all offered to each other like little diamonds that sparkled and gleamed because they were precious events. Precious God-given gifts, presented with love in the hidden hours of our lives.

At the end of the day, when you share the days events with your journal, your pet or your family, what you are truly doing is recounting the blessings that you have. The ability to participate in physical activity, the joy of a special lunch packed by your mom, the chance to help a neighbor in need are all proofs that you have been gifted. As you tell your stories, you not only give thanks for the experiences, but you praise God as you “give thanks in the great assembly.” (Ps. 35:18)

There are so many reasons to be thankful in our days, from the wonder of being called forth from sleep in the morning, to the miracle of sleep overtaking us at night. Everything that we do, see and participate in has been designed specifically for us, so what better way to celebrate that than to share those stories and marvels?

Sharing prayer in a group setting shouldn’t be restricted to religious communities. After all, isn’t family our first religious community anyway? So why not make your dinnertime, or evening time a prayer by telling someone about the wonders of your day. You’ll be singing an Evening Song of praise and thanks to your community, and to your Lord.

 

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44 thoughts on “An Evening Song

    • Hi Pam! I know my last post was about we should share our needs and hurts with Christ. Now this one is more like sharing praise. I didn’t see the connection, but thanks to you, now I do!

      I appreciate your visiting and commenting too. God bless your Sunday,
      Ceil

  1. Thank you Ceil. I have so much to be Thankful for, especially being able to walk again. Thank you Jesus. I know that he has been helping me through this trial.

    • Oh my goodness Dina, I have been thinking about you so much lately. I’m so happy that you’re walking! That must have been such a joyful thing. And I imagine it was a little scary too. Thank you to Jesus for being right by your side, helping through. What a hard road you’ve had!

      I miss seeing your bright face on Thursdays 🙂
      Ceil

  2. Fast forward from 60 AD to modern living today. Instead of vespers or evensong the family gathers in front of the TV, plate balancing on one’s knees or in a tray, and silently watch their favourite programs in silence; or if they talk, it is about the program they are watching.

    Ah … modernity and sophistication … ah … how we have changed. Watching TV and texting at the same time whilst enjoying an evening meal.

    There’s even a reality TV program in the UK known as GoggleBox. The program shows you people at home watching TV and commenting on what they see.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gogglebox

    As if the TV programs aren’t bad enough. Now we have the opinions of people at home on the TV programs which are not worth watching anyway. What is more galling is that these people at home commenting on TV programs have themselves become TV celebrities and they now appear on other TV programs spreading their (lack of) intelligence and their opinions.

    Either the world has gone mad, or it is just me.

    God bless.

    • Hi Victor! Oh the USA has it’s own brands of people who get famous by spouting opinions or trying to influence the culture, believe me. I’ll check out your link.

      Your comment makes me thankful that I had the upbringing that I did. So much talk, and so much laughter. We would play games too, like “20 Questions”. It was a fun thing to continue that when my own children were little.

      Just keep being the place of peace and communication in your place my friend. There may be larger voices, but that doesn’t mean we have to contribute to them! I think most of the information comes to us to quickly because of our fast communications. Something people didn’t have in the centuries that preceded us. As the bible says, “there are no new things under the sun”.

      I hope your Sunday is a peaceful one,
      Ceil

      • Sorry to come back again.

        You reminded we of games we used to play with our parents when we were young. I used to love hide and seek in the garden. I used to lean against a tree and count to 100 whilst my parents and siblings hid. The I had to find them in Edinburgh, Glasgow, Cardiff and sometimes all over Europe. Another game was “Guess where we are!” I used to come home from school and find that my parents had moved. Great fun!

        God bless.

        • Oh my goodness, what a tour of Scotland! And your story about your parents moving? That was fun???

          I love your sense of humor Victor. Thanks for coming on back to give me smile 🙂

  3. Hi Ceil! Thank you for this reminder to pray and to be thankful. We’re to pray at all times in all places, lifting our joys and concerns–as well as that of others to our Lord.

    Have a blessed week,

    Kim

    • Thank you Kim, and thank you for your always supportive sharing of my posts on Twitter. You are such an encourager for me, and I really appreciate it.

      I know that you really believe in making a joyful noise with the Lord, in prayer, song and thought. I hope to be more like that as my days move forward.
      God bless,
      Ceil

  4. I love the idea of an evening song of praise. Recounting our daily blessings focuses us back on God who is the Creator of all that happens each day.

    My uncle was a priest and if he were over for dinner, he would excuse himself after dinner for a time of vespers. I know he had a book called a breviary but I’m not sure if that was a book of prayers or devotions. It was a beautiful example for my brothers and I to experience this discipline and gain a bit of insight into the perseverance of a Christ follower.

    Thank you for reminding me of this. Have a wonderful week!

    • Hi Mary! What a fun memory for you! I’m sure the Liturgy of the Hours was in his breviary. I know there are many times a day for the Hours, but Morning, Evening and Night Prayers are the ones most people know and pray.

      The thought of praying as the evening comes, and reviewing the day is so attractive to me. And to think that many families do it organically is so wonderful. I’m sure your family did that too.

      Have a wonderful week!
      Ceil

  5. Beautiful post, Ceil! I have wonderful memories of my family sitting around the dinner table together. A special time to come together–sometimes the only time in the day!
    Blessings, My Friend!

    • HI Lulu! I’m so glad that you have memories that are so much like mine. We didn’t see each other much during the day, all being at school for the most part, so like you, it was a chance to catch up.

      I hope most families are able to share a meal at the end of the day. It’s so much more than the food! It’s a wonderful way to connect and remember the blessings of the hours.

      Have a peaceful night,
      Ceil

  6. I’m not familiar with the tradition of the monks but I love the idea of the family sharing. Tragically, I did not have that as a youngster growing up and except for occasional forays into it, never accomplished it as a father. It happens more now than it did before with just Jo & me and occasionally our daughter stopping in to have supper with us. But I would definitely do things differently these days than I did back then.

    • Hi Bill! Having family dinner time is not an easy thing. So many different people, going in different ways. I get that it’s not easy at all. How great that you and your wife enjoy your evening meal together, talking about the blessings and challenges of the day. I bet your daughter really loves it too.

      Have a great week!
      Ceil

  7. Grace is a staple at our dinner table, and I love the idea of sharing our day with our families as a type of vesper service. Never thought of it in that way, but it makes perfect sense, Ceil.
    Blessings!

    • Hi Martha! I’m sure you and Danny have wonderful talks at the end of the day. There’s something special about recounting the blessings and challenges, and being thankful for them and for each other.

      Thinking of you, and praying too,
      Ceil

  8. This is a lovely post, Ceil, and I agree, we have so much to be thankful for. It is good to find some way at the end of the day to pause and reflect on that and take time to thank God and share with others.

    • Hi Lesley! Thank you for your pingback to let me know you used some of my words in your post today. I’m honored that you would do that.

      Pause and reflect…I love those words, they just warm my soul. I think that’s what God wants us to feel about time with him.

      Have a peaceful afternoon,
      Ceil

  9. Ceil, I love that your family had such a beautiful Vespers tradition and all you shared here reminds me to acknowledge such blessings God hand picks for me and my precious family every day. Thank you for this. What a beautiful and encouraging message.

    • Hi Chris! I’m sure we all had no idea that we were chiming in a song of Evening at the time, but it sure looks that way today. I remember so many wonderful dinners of games, talk and laughter. We were very blessed.

      Thank you for your supportive comments today. Have a peaceful afternoon!
      Ceil

  10. This is such a beautiful way to end the day, Ceil. I love that your family treated daily events “offered to each other like little diamonds that sparkled and gleamed because they were precious events. Precious God-given gifts, presented with love in the hidden hours of our lives.” Lovely words to express lovely thoughts. 🙂 Love and hugs to you!

    • Hi Trudy! Thank you for your words of encouragement for the post today, I really appreciate them. I think of those conversations at meal time when I was young, and that’s what all those words feel like. Precious things, like diamonds.

      God bless your Monday, and hugs right back to you!
      Ceil

  11. I’m smiling because as I’m talking about how toxic families can be to each other today, you’re showing us how to do life the right way that honors Christ and raises our families to know and love Him and incorporate our faith into the dailyness of our activities.

    There is no high or holier calling, is there, friend …

    • Hi Linda! I know that I was a blessed person growing up. Our family was by no means perfect, but we did have some wonderful traditions, that many of us carry on to today with our own families. Faith was a big part of our upbringing, and I hope that my own children will benefit from that someday.

      Have a peaceful afternoon Linda,
      Ceil

  12. Tom and I grew up in similar homes to yours, Ceil. And we raised our family the same way and now Carrie does the same. Both girls thanked us for that tradition of sitting down at table for dinner and chatting and listening. You bring home the point to me that God must love it, too, when we talk to Him like that from our heart at the end of our day!

    • Hi Mary! I love that you both carried on that tradition of family dinner and talking about the day. It was one of the best times for us as a family, both when I was small, and when I had my own family.

      God loves us to communicate with him, it’s his favorite! Talking to him about our day is a wonderful way to create intimacy with him for sure.

      Have a peaceful evening my friend,
      Ceil

  13. Oh, you are so right! We all have much to thank God for! Sharing with our family…even the not so good things…brings so much comfort. God bless you, my friend. 🙂

    • Hi Cheryl! When we can talk about all our day, that’s when healing comes, and joy too. I remember laughing a lot at dinner times, and hearing the family news. It was really a great time of celebration.

      God bless you too Cheryl. Have a peaceful day,
      Ceil

  14. Ceil” You were blessed by having these experiences. My dad worked nights and my mother worked at a retail store that was open on Friday nights. We always had evening meals on Saturdays and Sundays–if Dad was home. We talked about things. But mostly things of the world and things that affected us.

    • Hi Cecelia! Your parents worked very hard. Of course that would impact how often you could eat together, but you still have such great memories of your talks with your parents. It’s a great thing that they opened the world to you and respected your opinion about the world. We all should be encouraging our kids like that.

      Thank you for stopping by!
      Ceil

    • Hi Jeanette! It is a different way of praising the Lord, but I think the spirit of Vespers and discussing the day is the same. It’s all about being joyful for what God has given us!

      Have a wonderful Valentines Day, and holy entry to Lent,
      Ceil

  15. Ceil, I just love this post. So funny as I was recently talking to a music minister and our conversation was how so many families has gotten away from fellowship with one another around the dinner table. For years, as long as I can remember, we always have made a point to eat together as a family at the dinner table. As you said, it was a time of talking about our day, how things were going, what our plans were and even our hopes. After my three daughters married and left home our family time around the dinner table still holds to this day. Every Sunday after church my girls, their spouses and grands gather around the dinner table. I have a rule at my home. NO CELL PHONES on my dinner table while we are eating and spending time together as family. I would not take anything for the time we spend together as family on Sundays at dinner. I usually start my meal prep on Saturday and finish up before Church on Sunday. YEP, lots of work and can get costly at times. BUT…as long as they will come, the dinner table will be there waiting. Thanks so much for this today. Happy Valentine’s to you sweet lady. Hugs and blessings, Cindy

    • Hi Cindy! What a beautiful tradition you started, and are continuing on to the next generation. I love the ‘no cellphone’ rule. It’s sad that we have to make that rule, but it’s wonderful that it’s respected.

      You really work hard on your weekly meal, and I know you make it with so much love and tradition! It reminds me of our weekly trip to my MIL’s house for dinner on Sundays. She got up early and cooked like mad. Of course, there weren’t any cellphones back then, but I’m sure she would have made that request. It’s a great memory for our whole family.

      God bless you and your efforts, hugs and blessings too!
      Ceil

  16. Ceil, I hadn’t looked at sharing stories, even in our journals, as a way to worship and thank God. Now I see more how we can have hearts of thankfulness in all moments of our day as called!

    • Hi Lynn! I think our whole lives can be a Song, don’t you? And the Evening Song comes at such a lovely time of the day. The daytime rush is giving over to evening, a great time for quiet reflection if you can manage it. I know not everyone can formally, but we can do it in our hearts if they kids are running around!

      Have a wonderful day Lynn 🙂
      Ceil

  17. I love how you weaved history and prayer and family all together. Actually I am trying to pray three times a day during Lent. Won’t be perfect but I am going to try. Lovely post

    • Hi Jean! Thank you for your kind words about the post, I appreciate them. What a beautiful Lenten promise! I’m sure your prayer time will be greatly blessed. You are answering God’s most fervent prayer for you: connection!

      Have a great weekend,
      Ceil

  18. Good advice for all our days, Ceil. We’ve so much to be grateful for. Thanks for pointing us in the right direction and helping us align our perspective. Have a wonderful weekend! 🙂

    • Hi Karen! Thank you for your encouraging words! I hope your days are slowing down a bit? You said that you had a lot on your plate lately. Best of blessings on your work!

      Have a wonderful weekend,
      Ceil

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