The Midnight Office, or Night Vigil, has 12 readings and 12 responsories, amid the 12 psalms, and 3 canticles, and over 12 Antiphons that are sung (the 15 Gradual Psalms, and in some cases, the 30 Psalms, are sung before the Night Vigil begins).
The Night Vigil is divided into three Nocturns. Each Nocturn has 6
Psalms; after each Nocturn, 4 readings a read, with 4 responsories each.
The Western Orthodox cursus should consist of Vespers, then Compline,
the Gradual Psalms, and then the Night Vigils, with Lauds (Orthros)
chanted in the morning, before dawn. The Night Vigil by itself can be
up to 3 hours, when done with all the appropriate prolix chant; if done
without the prolix chant it can be 2.5 hrs. Depending upon timing, some
monasteries and parishes will sing Vespers, Compline and Vigils all
together; others will sing Vigils together with Lauds, in the early
morning, thus forming what is often called Matins (which is a
combination of Vigils and Lauds).
Here are the 12 Readings and Responsories that will be used for
tonight's Night Vigil, which will celebrate the great Octave Day of
Epiphany, or Theophany. The 8th day after the Feast is celebrated with
only less solemnity than the feast itself, for example, it has no tropes
for the Proper Chants. For those interesed, the proper invitatory,
psalms, and antiphons are here on pg. 112
Octave of Epiphany
The readings for the Nocturns, however, are below.
Lesson 1 First Corinthians 7:1-14
Now concerning the things whereof ye wrote unto me: It is good for a man
not to touch a woman. Nevertheless, to avoid fornication, let every man
have his own wife, and let every woman have her own husband. Let the
husband render unto the wife due benevolence: and likewise also the wife
unto the husband. The wife hath not power of her own body, but the
husband: and likewise also the husband hath not power of his own body,
but the wife.
R. Today when the Lord was baptized in Jordan, the heavens were opened;
and lo, the Spirit like a dove descending and lighting upon Him, and the
voice of the Father saying: x This is My Beloved Son, in Whom I Am well
V. The Holy Ghost descended in a bodily shape like a dove upon Him, and a voice came from heaven, saying, x This is My...
Defraud ye not one the other, except it be with consent, for a time,
that ye may give yourselves to fasting and prayer; and come together
again, that Satan tempt you not for your incontinency. But I speak this
by permission, and not of commandment.
R. The Holy Ghost was seen like a dove, the Father's voice was heard: x This is My Beloved Son , in Whom I Am well pleased.
V. The heavens were opened unto Him, and the voice of the Father declared: x This is My...
For I would that all men were even as I myself. But every man hath his
proper gift of God, one after this manner, and another after that. I say
therefore to the unmarried and widows, It is good for them if they
abide even as I. But if they cannot contain, let them marry: for it is
better to marry than to burn.
R. The kings of Tharsis and of the isles shall give presents; x The kings of Arabia and Saba shall bring gifts to the Lord God.
V. All they from Sheba shall come: they shall bring gold and incense. x The kings...
And unto the married I command, yet not I, but the Lord, Let not the
wife depart from her husband; but and if she depart, let her remain
unmarried, or be reconciled to her husband: and let not the husband put
away his wife. But to the rest speak I, not the Lord: If any brother
hath a wife that believeth not, and she be pleased to dwell with him,
let him not put her away. And the woman which hath an husband that
believeth not, and if he be pleased to dwell with her, let her not leave
him. For the unbelieving husband is sanctified by the wife, and the
unbelieving wife is sanctified by the husband; else were your children
unclean; but now are they holy.
R. This day which is breaking is holy; come, ye nations, and worship the
Lord. x Today a great light is come down upon the earth.
V. This is the day which the Lord hath made: we will rejoice and be glad in it. x Today..
Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Ghost.
Sermon by St. Gregory Nazianzen (the Theologian)
On the Holy Light
I cannot contain myself for joy; I am elated and buoyed up. Heedless of
my own weakness I strive to take up the office, or rather the service,
of the great John, and though I am not a forerunner, I do come from the
desert. Christ is enlightened, or rather, by His brightness He
enlightens us: Christ is Baptized; let us go down into the water with
Him, that we may also come up with Him.
R. Arise, shine, O Jerusalem, for thy light is come; x And the glory of the Lord is risen upon thee.
V. And the Gentiles shall come to thy light, and kings to the brightness of thy rising. x And the...
John is baptizing, and Jesus comes to him, to sanctify the Baptist, and
to do more than that, to drown the old Adm in the waters, and above all,
to hallow the waters of Jordan; He Who is Spirit and Flesh gives to all
Who are ever to be baptized the sanctification of water and of the
Spirit. The Baptist will not receive Him, but Jesus strives with Him. I,
says John, have need to be baptized of Thee. The candle speaks to the
Sun, the voice talks to the Word.
R. All they from Sheba shall come; they shall bring gold and incense,
and they shall shew forth the praises of the Lord. x. Alleluia,
V. The kings of Tharsis and of the isles shall give presents, the kings of Arabia and Saba shall bring gifts. x.Alleluia...
Jesus came up out of the water, bringing up with Him the sunken world,
and He saw the heavens, not divided, but opened; after He Himself had
closed them long ago against Adam and ourselves, when paradise was shut
and guarded by a fiery sword.
R. 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, x And are come
to worship the Lord.
V. We have seen His star in the east. x And are...
And the Holy Ghost testifies of Him Who is of One Substance with
Himself. From heaven the Witness comes; He comes from Him unto Whom He
R. Herod enquired of the wise men: What sign have ye seen concerning Him
that is born King? We have seen a star shining, the brightness whereof
enlightens the world. X And we have known, and are come to worship the
V. There came wise me from the east, seeking the face of the Lord, and saying, x And we
x And we...
The Lesson from the Holy Gospel according to John
Lesson 9 John Ch. 1
John seeth Jesus coming unto him, and saith, Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.
Homily by St. Augustine, Bishop
Homily 6 on John
Before the Lord came to be baptized by John in Jordan, John knew Him, as
is plain from those words in which he says, Comest Thou to me to be
baptized? I have need to be baptized of Thee. Yea, but he knew Him to be
the Lord, knew Him to be the Son of God. How do we prove that he knew
already that it was He Who should baptize with the Holy Ghost? Before He
came to the river, when many were running together to John to be
baptized he said unto them, I indeed baptize you with water; but He Who
cometh after me is mightier than I, Whose shoe's latchet I am not worthy
to unloose; He shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost, and with fire;
already he knew this also.
R. The star which the wise men saw in the east went before them, till it
came and stood over where the young Child was: x And when they saw the
star, they rejoiced with exceeding great joy.
V. And when they were come into the house, they say the young Child with
Mary His Mother,a nd fell down and worshipped Him. x And when they...
What then did he learn by the dove, so that (which God forbid we should
think) he may not afterwards be found a liar; what but this, that there
was to be this peculiarity in Christ, that although many ministers,
whether righteous or unrighteous, should baptize, yet the sanctity of
baptism would be ascribed to Him only on Whom the dove descended, and of
Whom it was said, This is He which baptizeth with the Holy Ghost? Pete
may baptize, still this is He which baptizeth; Paul may baptize, still
this is He which baptizeth; Judas may baptize, still this is HE which
R. When the wise men saw the star, they rejoiced with exceeding great
joy: x And when they were come into the house, they say 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,
frankincense, and myrrh.
V. The star which the wise men saw in the east went before them, till it
came and stood over where the young Child was. x And when...
For if the sanctity of baptism depend upon the degrees of merit of the
persons who baptize, then because the merits are diverse, the baptisms
will be diverse also; and the better the minister is supposed to be, so
much the better will the thing received be accounted. Even the Saints
themselves, (understand, brethren), the good men who belong to the dove,
who have part and lot in the city of Jerusalem, even the good
themselves in the Church, of whom the Apostle saith, The Lord knoweth
them that are His, are variously endued with grace; they are not all
alike in merit; some are holier than others, some are better than
R. Thy light is come, O Jerusalem, and the glory of the Lord is risen
upon thee. x And the Gentiles shall come to thy light, and kings to the
brightness of thy rising.
V. Thy sons shall come from far, and thy daughters shall be nursed at thy side. x And the ....
Why then, if one man, for example be baptized by this righteous saint,
another by another of inferior merit with God, of an inferior grad, of
inferior continence, of inferior life, why, notwithstanding, ts that
which they have received one, and the like, and equal, unless because,
This is He which Baptizeth?
R. This is the wondrous day on which the Saviour of the world was
manifested, He Whom Prophets foretold and Angels announced: x Whose star
the wise men saw with exceeding great joy and presented unto Him gifts.
V. This day which is breaking and is holy: come, ye nations, and worship the Lord. x Whose star..
x. Whose star....
Then the Te Deum is Sung, after which the Gospel is read