Public worship - Page 5
In the Church of England the public evening service is called Evening Prayer or Evensong. This was compiled in the year 1549 by Archbishop Cranmer from two smaller services which had been drawn up by monks in the Middle Ages. One was Vespers at which the Magnificat was sung, and the other was Compline which contains the Nunc Dimittis. The Magnificat, which begins with the words, “My soul doth magnify the Lord”, is the song which Our Lady sang when she visited her cousin Elizabeth before Jesus was born. The Nunc Dimittis, “Lord, now lettest Thou thy servant depart in peace”, is what old Simeon sang in the Temple when Our Lady and St Joseph brought the Infant Jesus to present him to God. Evensong is a good service to end Sunday with after one has been to the Eucharist in the morning.
In some churches Evensong is followed by the service of Benediction. This is a service in honour of Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament. During it the priest holds up the Host (consecrated Bread of the Eucharist), and traces the sign of the Cross with It over the people. In this way Our Lord’s own blessing is given to them.