15 January 2015

Evening hymns and prayers on the mission
themes of injustice, violence and peace

A prayer for the healing of the nations at Westminster Abbey (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

Patrick Comerford

Throughout this week, the tutorial group is taking the Five Marks of Mission in the Anglican Communion as a theme for worship in the chapel. The Five Marks of Mission are:

• To proclaim the Good News of the Kingdom
• To teach, baptise and nurture new believers
• To respond to human need by loving service
• To seek to transform unjust structures of society, to challenge violence of every kind and to pursue peace and reconciliation
• To strive to safeguard the integrity of creation and sustain and renew the life of the earth

The prayers and our office hymn at Evensong this evening [Thursday, 15 January 2015] reflect the fourth of those five marks: “To seek to transform unjust structures of society, to challenge violence of every kind and to pursue peace and reconciliation.”

Readings: Psalm 139: 1-5, 12-18; Judges 2: 6-15; II Corinthians 10: 1-11.

This evening, we are singing the three traditional canticles associated with Evensong:

We are singing ‘A Song of the Light’ as Hymn 699, ‘Hail gladdening light.’ The canticle Phos Hilaron (Φῶς Ἱλαρόν) dates back to the third or fourth century. Saint Basil of Caesarea, who died in 385, described in the fourth century as an ancient hymn. It is one the three non-Biblical canticles – alongside Te Deum and Gloria in Excelsis – from that time that continue to be used in the Church.

This evening’s hymn version was translated by John Keble (1792-1866). The original Greek reads:

Φῶς ἱλαρὸν ἁγίας δόξης ἀθανάτου Πατρός,
οὐρανίου, ἁγίου, μάκαρος, Ἰησοῦ Χριστέ,
ἐλθόντες ἐπὶ τὴν ἡλίου δύσιν, ἰδόντες φῶς ἑσπερινόν,
ὑμνοῦμεν Πατέρα, Υἱόν, καὶ ἅγιον Πνεῦμα, Θεόν.
Ἄξιόν σε ἐν πᾶσι καιροῖς ὑμνεῖσθαι φωναῖς αἰσίαις,
Υἱὲ Θεοῦ, ζωὴν ὁ διδούς• διὸ ὁ κόσμος σὲ δοξάζει.

We are singing the canticle Magnificat as Hymn 704, ‘Mary sang a song, a song of love.’ This canticle is based on the words praise and thanksgiving sung by the pregnant Virgin Mary when she visits her pregnant cousin Saint Elizabeth. Initially, this canticle was sung in the morning, and is still part of the morning office in the Orthodox Church, but it became part of the evening traditions of the Western Church from the time of Saint Benedict. Archbishop Thomas Cranmer introduced it to the first Book of Common Prayer in 1549 to be sung between the Old Testament and New Testament readings.

This evening’s hymn version of Magnificat was written by the Revd Michael Perry (1942-1996), who was the editorial secretary of Jubilate Hymns.

We are singing the canticle Nunc Dimittis as Hymn 691, ‘Faithful vigil ended.’ This canticle is based on the words of the aged Simeon at the Presentation of the Christ Child in the Temple (see Luke 2: 29-32). It has been part of the Church’s evening worship since the fourth century, and Thomas Cranmer prescribed it as the second canticle at Evensong in the 1549 Book of Common Prayer as the response to the reading of the New Testament.

This metrical version was written by Timothy Dudley-Smith in 1967, to complement his version of Magnificat, ‘Tell out my soul’ (Hymn 712).

Our office hymn, ‘Beauty for brokenness’ (Hymn 494), continues our themes of injustice, violence, peace and reconciliation. It was written by Graham Kendrick after he saw the plight of thousands of homeless people living on the edges of starvation on the streets of Bombay. It was first sung at the 25th anniversary of Tearfund.


Eternal Father,
who at the baptism of Jesus
revealed him to be your Son,
anointing him with the Holy Spirit:
Grant to us, who are born of water and the Spirit,
that we may be faithful to our calling as your adopted children;
through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Our prayers this evening are adapted from the Tynwald Prayers used in the Parliament of the Isle of Man:

Lord of all the nations and friend of the poor,
strengthen in the members of the Dail and the Assembly
and all who lead the nations of the world
a belief in the dignity of every human being,
a belief in the values of justice, freedom and peace,
that we may grow in respect and understanding for one another,
and righteousness be established in the earth;
through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

A prayer of the Church in Wales (adapted):

Almighty God, Father of us all,
we thank you for the beauty of our land
and for the rich heritage of this nation.
Inspire the people of this Island
with the spirit of righteousness and love,
willing both to share and to receive,
that in prosperity and in adversity
we may declare that we are one with each other
and one with you;
through our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. Amen.

A prayer of Archbishop William Temple, which we also prayed this morning:

God of righteousness,
lead us, we pray, in the ways of justice and of peace:
inspire us to break down all tyranny and oppression,
to gain for every one their due reward
and from every one their due service,
that each may live for all and all may care for each.
In us and through us may God’s will be done,
in the name of Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

A Franciscan prayer:

Lord, make us instruments of your peace:
where there is hatred, let us sow love;
where there is injury, let there be pardon;
where there is discord, union;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light;
where there is sadness, joy;
for your mercy and for your truth’s sake. Amen.

A prayer of Sir Francis Drake (adapted):

O Lord God,
when you give to your servants to endeavour any great matter,
grant us also to know that it is not the beginning
but the continuing of the same until it be thoroughly finished
which yields the true glory;
through him who, for the finishing of your work,
laid down his life for us,
our Redeemer, Jesus Christ. Amen.

A blessing carved in the stones of Westminster Abbey:

God grant to the living, grace;
to the departed, rest;
to the Church and World peace and concord;
and to us sinners, eternal life;
and the blessing of God almighty,
the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit,
be among you and remain with you always. Amen.

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