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Vespers for the Day of the Epiphany

Vespers for the Day of the Epiphany[1]

 

ANTIPHON      Isaiah 60:1

Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord has dawned upon you.

 

BIDDING PRAYER

O God, make speed to save us; O Lord, make haste to help us.

O God, who by a leading star made manifest your only Son to all the peoples of the earth: Lead us, who know you now by faith, to your presence, where we may see your glory face to face; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.

 

SCRIPTURE READING: Isaiah 60:1-10

Arise, shine; for thy light is come, and the glory of the Lord is risen upon thee.

For, behold, the darkness shall cover the earth, and gross darkness the people: but the Lord shall arise upon thee, and his glory shall be seen upon thee.

And the Gentiles shall come to thy light, and kings to the brightness of thy rising.

Lift up thine eyes round about, and see: all they gather themselves together, they come to thee: thy sons shall come from far, and thy daughters shall be nursed at thy side.

Then thou shalt see, and flow together, and thine heart shall fear, and be enlarged; because the abundance of the sea shall be converted unto thee, the forces of the Gentiles shall come unto thee.

The multitude of camels shall cover thee, the dromedaries of Midian and Ephah; all they from Sheba shall come: they shall bring gold and incense; and they shall shew forth the praises of the Lord.

All the flocks of Kedar shall be gathered together unto thee, the rams of Nebaioth shall minister unto thee: they shall come up with acceptance on mine altar, and I will glorify the house of my glory.

Who are these that fly as a cloud, and as the doves to their windows?

Surely the isles shall wait for me, and the ships of Tarshish first, to bring thy sons from far, their silver and their gold with them, unto the name of the Lord thy God, and to the Holy One of Israel, because he hath glorified thee.

10 And the sons of strangers shall build up thy walls, and their kings shall minister unto thee: for in my wrath I smote thee, but in my favour have I had mercy on thee.

The Word of the Lord. Thanks be to God.

 

MUSIC:  “We Three Kings” sung by the Choir of King’s College, Cambridge, 2010:

            https://youtu.be/Lx35_DRIZ8g.

 

SCRIPTURE READING: Matthew 2:1-12

1 Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judaea in the days of Herod the king, behold, there came wise men from the east to Jerusalem,

Saying, where is he that is born King of the Jews? for we have seen his star in the east, and are come to worship him.

When Herod the king had heard these things, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him.

And when he had gathered all the chief priests and scribes of the people together, he demanded of them where Christ should be born.

And they said unto him, In Bethlehem of Judaea: for thus it is written by the prophet,

And thou Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, art not the least among the princes of Judah: for out of thee shall come a Governor, that shall rule my people Israel.

Then Herod, when he had privily called the wise men, enquired of them diligently what time the star appeared.

And he sent them to Bethlehem, and said, Go and search diligently for the young child; and when ye have found him, bring me word again, that I may come and worship him also.

When they had heard the king, they departed; and, lo, the star, which they saw in the east, went before them, till it came and stood over where the young child was.

10 When they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceeding great joy.

11 And when they were come into the house, they saw the young child with Mary his mother, and fell down, and worshipped him: and when they had opened their treasures, they presented unto him gifts; gold, and frankincense and myrrh.

12 And being warned of God in a dream that they should not return to Herod, they departed into their own country by another road.

The Word of the Lord. Thanks be to God.

 

MUSIC “In dulce jubilo,” sung by the musical group Mediaeval Baebes, 2016:

            https://youtu.be/5EEIiLCjWr0

 

POEM: T.S Eliot, “Journey of the Magi,”[2] read by the author: https://youtu.be/ZWY7X8P9SsM.

 

“A cold coming we had of it,

Just the worst time of the year

For a journey, and such a long journey:

The ways deep and the weather sharp,

The very dead of winter.”

 

And the camels galled, sore-footed, refractory,

Lying down in the melting snow.

There were times we regretted

The summer palaces on slopes, the terraces,

And the silken girls bringing sherbet.

Then the camel men cursing and grumbling

And running away, and wanting their liquor and women,

And the night-fires going out, and the lack of shelters,

And the cities hostile and the towns unfriendly

And the villages dirty and charging high prices:

A hard time we had of it.

 

At the end we preferred to travel all night,

Sleeping in snatches,

With the voices singing in our ears, saying

That this was all folly.

 

Then at dawn we came down to a temperate valley,

Wet, below the snow line, smelling of vegetation;

With a running stream and a water-mill beating the darkness,

And three trees on the low sky,

And an old white horse galloped away in the meadow.

 

Then we came to a tavern with vine-leaves over the lintel,

Six hands at an open door dicing for pieces of silver,

And feet kicking the empty wine-skins.

But there was no information, and so we continued

And arrived at evening, not a moment too soon

Finding the place; it was (you may say) satisfactory.

 

All this was a long time ago, I remember,

And I would do it again, but set down

This set down

This: were we led all that way for

Birth or Death? There was a Birth, certainly,

We had evidence and no doubt. I had seen birth and death,

But had thought they were different; this Birth was

Hard and bitter agony for us, like Death, our death.

We returned to our places, these Kingdoms,

 

But no longer at ease here, in the old dispensation,

With an alien people clutching their gods.

I should be glad of another death.

 

REFLECTION

 

PRAYER:

Blessed are you, O Lord, the God of our fathers, creator of the changes of day and night, giving rest to the weary, renewing the strength of those who are spent, bestowing upon us occasions of song in the evening. As you have protected us in the day that is past, so be with us in the coming night; keep us from every sin, every evil, and every fear; for you are our light and salvation, and the strength of our life. To you be glory for endless ages. Amen.

 

MUSIC: Neil Young, “Powderfinger,” sung by Cowboy Junkies, 2017:

https://youtu.be/-yzOpjQsXvk 

 

MUSIC: “We Three Kings” reprise, sung by the musical group Mediaeval Baebes, 2013:

https://youtu.be/5TrZB74DALs

 

About This Service

“Epiphany” is a Greek work that means “manifest” or “appearing”. On this feast day of the church, many people show up, bringing many things with them: wise men, or kings, from the East, who have come to worship the newborn King of the Jews and the savior of humankind. On it, God shows up, too – to those very kings, or wise men, who’ve come to look for him, but were no doubt surprised about how and where he appeared. In a byre, not a palace; to a carpenter and his wife, not to a king or a queen; in Bethlehem, not in Jerusalem, although that, later traditions remembered, had been where the prophecy told people to expect him.

God often does that: shows up in strange times and mysterious ways, not as we predict, but often as we need. As the saying goes, bidden or unbidden, God is present, though many of us may find God hard to find in times of darkness gathering and deceit, disease, or distress. Likewise, we may not realize that the journey to find God can be long, and that the work needed to get ourselves into a place and a state of mind in which God can appear can be hard, the way dry and stony, and not all the people we meet on the way pleasant or even all that helpful.

Yet journey we do, and seek we will, as the wise did of old, for when a star appears in the sky that leads us on, who are we to deny its pull or its promise, no matter what it may cost us, or where it may lead? It may be that when we reach the journey’s end, we will know the place, ourselves, and the God that drew us there – all for the very first time.

 

Music and Poetry for the Vespers for the Day of the Epiphany

 

MUSIC:  “We Three Kings” sung by the Choir of King’s College, Cambridge, 2010:

            https://youtu.be/Lx35_DRIZ8g.

MUSIC: “In dulce jubilo,” sung by the musical group Mediaeval Baebes, 2016:

            https://youtu.be/5EEIiLCjWr0.

POEM: T.S Eliot, “Journey of the Magi,”[3] read by the author, 1947: https://youtu.be/ZWY7X8P9SsM.

MUSIC: Neil Young, “Powderfinger,” sung by Cowboy Junkies, 2017:

https://youtu.be/-yzOpjQsXvk 

MUSIC: “We Three Kings” reprise, sung by the musical group Mediaeval Baebes, 2013:

https://youtu.be/5TrZB74DALs.

 

 

 

Resources (available for free online)

These resources contain the prayers and worship services used in The Episcopal Church and by Episcopalians in their daily devotions.

 

This source shows the readings assigned for use in Sunday worship and for daily office use for each day of the year, with links to online biblical texts.

The Revised Common Lectionary and Daily Office, https://lectionary.library.vanderbilt.edu/

 

Links to church websites – National, Diocesan and our church’s website.

The Episcopal Church: www.episcopalchurch.org

Episcopal News Service: www.episcopalnewsservice.org

The Episcopal Diocese of Washington: www.edow.org

St. Mark’s, Fairland: www.stmarks-silverspring.org


A Prayer in Times of Sickness and Contagion

Heavenly Father, giver of life and health, source of all wisdom and peace: Comfort and relieve your servants who suffer from sickness or fear, give your power of healing to those who minister to their needs, and let your grace be with all those who work to protect us from contagion and disease. May we be strengthened against any weakness, sickness, fear, and doubt, and place our confidence in your loving care through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and fever. Amen.


[1] Music for this service is available via the YouTube links placed throughout the service. Please stop the service video and click the links on the service bulletin to open the music.

[2] © 1927 T.S. Eliot. The opening quote in the poem is from a Nativity sermon preached before King James 1st of England (6th of Scotland) in 1622 by Bishop Lancelot Andrewes, one of the principle translators of the Authorized, or King James, version of the Bible (1611).

[3] © 1927 T.S. Eliot. The opening quote in the poem is from a Nativity sermon preached before King James 1st of England (6th of Scotland) by Bishop Lancelot Andrewes, one of the principle translators of the Authorized, or King James, version of the Bible (1611).