The Vigil Office

The traditional Vigil Office begins with the Blessing of the Light and then continues with the repeating pattern of a reading, a psalm or canticle, silence and a prayer; it concludes with the gospel reading, the gospel canticle, the prayers and the blessing.

Alternatively, it may be used more informally, with those present participating by contributing readings and poetry, music and song, testimony and prayer.

This Office may be used either on the evening before a Class I feast or on a Saturday evening (but see also ‘After the Office’, page 238). It should be a substantial enough service to replace Evening Prayer (Night Prayer may also be omitted): it may be made fuller with the addition of further readings, psalms or canticles, silences and prayers, which are inserted before the proclamation of the gospel.

Additional material will also be found in The Promise of His Glory, pages 95 and following (Advent), pages 148 and following and 165 and following (Christmas), pages 207 and following (Epiphany) and pages 261 and following (Candlemas).


A light, which may be the Paschal Candle, is brought in, or a candle may simply be lit. The Officiant greets the people with suitable words, such as:

In the evening, Jesus came and stood among the disciples and said to them: ‘Peace be with you!’ (Alleluia!)

The light and peace of Jesus Christ be with you all
And also with you.

Let us give thanks to the Lord our God
Who is worthy of all thanksgiving and praise.

Blessèd are you, Sovereign God of all,
to you be glory and praise for ever!
in the darkness of this passing age,
your saints proclaim the glory of your kingdom,
revealed among us in Christ, our light.
Open our eyes to behold your presence
and join our song with those of the saints
in praise of all your marvellous deeds,
Father, Son and Holy Spirit:
Blessèd be God for ever!


Blessèd are you, Sovereign God,
our light and our salvation,
eternal Creator of day and night,
to you be glory and praise for ever!
[Now, as darkness is falling,
hear the prayer of your faithful people.]
As we look for your coming in glory,
wash away our transgressions,
cleanse us by your refining fire
and make us temples of your Holy Spirit.
By the light of Christ,
dispel the darkness of our hearts
and make us ready to enter your kingdom,
where songs of praise for ever sound,
Father, Son and Holy Spirit:
Blessèd be God for ever!

While the other candles are lit the following or another suitable hymn may be sung.


1 Hail, gladdening Light, of his pure glory poured,
Who is the immortal Father, heavenly, blest,
Holiest of Holies, Jesus Christ our Lord.
2 Now we are come to the Sun’s hour of rest,
The lights of evening round us shine,
We hymn the Father, Son and Holy Spirit divine.
3 Worthy are you at all times to be sung
With undefilèd tongue,
Son of our God, giver of life, alone:
Therefore in all the world your glories,
   Lord, they own.

Verses from PSALM 141 may be said:

Let my prayer rise before you as incense,
the lifting up of my hands as the evening sacrifice.

O Lord, I call to you; come to me quickly;
hear my voice when I cry to you.
Set a watch before my mouth, O Lord,
and guard the door of my lips.

Let my prayer rise before you as incense,
the lifting up of my hands as the evening sacrifice.

Let not my heart incline to any evil thing;
let me not be occupied in wickedness.
But my eyes are turned to you, Lord God,
in you I take refuge;
do not leave me defenceless.

Let my prayer rise before you as incense,
the lifting up of my hands as the evening sacrifice.


As our evening prayer rises before you, O God,
so may your mercy come down upon us
   to cleanse our hearts
and set us free to sing your praise,
now and for ever. Amen.


A PSALM is said.


A COLLECT: the following or some other.

Let us pray.

God of glory,
you nourish us with your word
which is the bread of life.
Fill us with your Holy Spirit,
that through us the light of your glory
   may shine in all the world;
we ask this in the name of Jesus Christ, our Saviour. Amen.


A CANTICLE: the following or some other:


Refrain: At the name of Jesus*
every knee shall bow.
1 Christ Jesus was in the form of God,*
but he did not cling to equality with God.
2 He emptied himself, taking the form of a servant,*
and was born in our human likeness.
3 Being found in human form, he humbled himself,*
and became obedient unto death,
   even death on a cross;
4 Therefore, God has highly exalted him,*
and bestowed on him the name above every name,
5 That at the name of Jesus, every knee shall bow,*
in heaven and on earth and under the earth.
6 And every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord,*
to the glory of God the Father.
Glory . . . Philippians 2. 5b-11
At the name of Jesus*
every knee shall bow.


A COLLECT: the following or some other.

Let us pray.

Kindle in our hearts, O God,
the flame of that love which never ceases,
that it may burn in us, giving light to others.
May we shine for ever in your temple,
set on fire with your eternal light,
even your Son Jesus Christ,
our Saviour and our Redeemer. Amen. St Columba


Or ‘of the resurrection’ (seven-week cycle):

  1. John 11. 20-27 ‘I am the resurrection’
  2. Luke 23.54 - 24.12 ‘He is not here, he is risen’
  3. John 20. 1-10 Mary of Magdala came to the tomb
  4. John 20. 11-18 ‘I have seen the Lord’
  5. John 20. 24-29 ‘My Lord and my God’
  6. Luke 24. 13-27 A village called Emmaus
  7. Luke 24. 28-36 Their eyes were opened


See either separate card or inside front cover.


A litany or a suitable chant is appropriate.

THE COLLECT of the morrow


[As we await the fulfilment of the promise of glory, let us pray for the coming of the kingdom:]

Our Father in heaven, Or Our Father, who art in heaven,

A HYMN may be sung.


The Lord bless us with every spiritual gift
as we wait for our Lord Jesus Christ to be revealed. Amen.

Let us bless the Lord. (Alleluia! Alleluia!)
Thanks be to God. (Alleluia! Alleluia!)