Vespers Readings


I was at my first vespers service tonight, and it was pretty cool. I really liked how it switched from the celebrant side to the tabernacle side to the celebrant side (left to right to left) during the readings, except that as a congregation we weren’t exactly experts at synchronizing when we read the responses out loud. There were a lot of senior people that were in Spiritual Tortoise Mode TM, and were like “Glooooooooooory beeeee… to theeeee faaaaather… zzzz” and then other people were like “BAM! DONE!”, and it ended up sounding somewhat discombobulated, but if it weren’t for that it would have made it sound very surreal and otherworldly.

Do you need a priest in order to celebrate a vespers service, or is this something that could theoretically be performed by just a deacon, since there is no consecration at a vespers service? In the pamphlet, there was listed a ‘Homily’ during the service, which gave me the impression that you would still need a priest or at least a deacon. Are there still binding rubrics in the way that there are with the Mass?


Vespers (or Evening Prayer) can be led by a Deacon or a lay person. I’ve led Evening Prayer in my parish. It is the official prayer of the Church and can be prayed by anyone who has a Breviary or Christian Prayer book or even an app for the Liturgy of the Hours on their iPhone or iPad.


A layman can actually lead Vespers or any of the other hours. The only thing that occurs at the public celebration of the Divine Office that requires a priest is the blessing at the end, and in the absence of a priest or deacon, the versicle used in private recitation “May the Lord bless us, protect us from all evil, and bring us to everlasting life” is then used. This is how we conclude the recitation of Lauds or Vespers at the seminary if we’re reciting it without a priest or deacon around (it is prayed publicly most days, but Saturdays, for instance, it’s prayed privately, and if you and your friends get together and say it, that’s how it’s done if a deacon doesn’t happen to be among the friends you’re with). For the other hours, the versicle/response “Let us praise the Lord/And give him thanks” is used.



The homily is still reserved to a priest or deacon so in a lay-led service, it is to be omitted.


I am Third Order Secular Fransican (OFS); we say the the Devine Office (Breviary) daily. Our Office readings are said for morning, evening and night prayer and if time allots the mid-day prayer. When said in public, it is appropriate to be led by a priest or deacon; but a lay person may lead.
Pax et Bonum:bible1:

The Devine Office may be said by anyone. It is encouraged, as it is the prayer of the church.


If Vespers or Lauds are celebrated solemnly, the censing of the altar can only be done by a cleric.


You are correct.
Pax et Bonum:bible1:


In checking my Liturgy of the Hours, at the Evening Prayer Dismissal it states:“if a priest or deacon presides, he dismisses the people 'The Lord be with you…May Amighty God bless you, the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit.”’ It goes on to state “In the absence of a priest or deacon…” And goes on to give the versicle you cited. So it does not appear that the priest is needed for the blessing, as the rubrics show the blessing can also be done by the presiding deacon.


No you do not need a priest. Many communities of nuns and sisters, for instance, are canonically bound to pray Vespers (and the other canonical hours), and often they only have a priest available for Mass, not for the Liturgy of the Hours.

A deacon can preside at Vespers, and so can a layperson:

  1. In the absence of a priest or deacon, the one who presides at the office is only one among equals and does not enter the sanctuary or greet and bless the people.

(General Instructions of the Liturgy of the Hours)


Which is what I had indicated, and I’m sorry if that was unclear.



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