At Notre Dame, we celebrate Vespers every Sunday evening in the Basilica at 7:15 p.m. throughout the academic year. All are welcome to attend.
The church gathers at sunset to give thanks to God for the day that is ending. According to an ancient tradition, in some places this began with the lighting of lamps as darkness fell ( "Lucernarium") as a hymn honoring Christ as the light of the world, the "radiant light," was sung. Then psalms and New Testament canticles would follow, expressive of thanksgiving, repentance, and a longing for eternity when the light will never fail. Following a scripture reading, the Magnificat (Lk 1:46-55), Mary's great hymn of thanksgiving, is sung: "God has cast down the mighty from their thrones, and has lifted up the lowly." Intercessory prayer follows. These prayers are brought together and completed in our praying The Lord's Prayer together with the prayer of the day. Vespers concludes with a blessing. In many places, a Marian hymn is added, e.g., the Salve Regina.