Even though the phrase cannot be found in his writings, St Augustine is often credited for the statement, "A person who sings well prays twice". This phrase, in all its simplicity and depth, names what’s at the heart of our liturgical worship: lifting up our hearts and minds in praise to God the Father, through the Son, in the power of the Spirit. Singing here does not just mean singing with the mouth, but also with the heart and deeds. In doing this we fulfill Jesus’ command to "pray always" (Luke 18:1).
In order to help us advance more into singing with our mouths, hearts and deeds in worship to God, we are introducing Vespers at the Cathedral. Vespers, also called Evening Prayer in the Catholic tradition, is part of the Liturgy of the Hours, also known as the Divine Office. The Liturgy of the Hours includes several specified times of prayer. The most important times, called the "hinge hours", are Morning Prayer and Evening Prayer. The other hours are the Office of Readings (a service with a biblical reading and a reading from the Fathers or Church writers or a reading related to a saint which may take place at any time of day), a Daytime Prayer (which may take place at Midmorning, Midday, or Midafternoon), and Compline or Night Prayer (said before going to bed). Bishops, priests, deacons, and religious men and women pray the Liturgy of the Hours each day. Their work is organized around this prayer, keeping God always at the center of their days.
Lay people are encouraged to pray the Liturgy of the Hours as well, especially Morning and Evening Prayers. Vespers at the Cathedral will offer us the opportunity to come together (both ordained or lay) to pray as a parish, giving thanks for the day just past and making an evening sacrifice of praise to God (Psalm 141:1).The Vespers usually begins with the sign of the cross, singing of psalms, a short reading, an Office hymn, short responsory, the Magnificat, prayers of intercession, the Lord’s Prayer, concluding prayer and blessing.
The first Vespers begins on Sunday 22 February 2015 (the first Sunday of Lent—next Sunday) 3.00pm in the Chapel, and will be sung by the Cathedral Schola. Everyone is invited to come, participate, and pray with joy to the Lord. Happy Sunday everyone. Fr Anthony Ekpo