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The office of Vespers is traditionally recited before sunset and consists of the invitory Deus in adjutorium, 5 psalms with their proper antiphons, a proper hymn, and a Magnificat with its antiphon. Mozart and others composed only the 5 psalms and Magnificat, expecting the other items to be sung to plainchant. Often the seasonal votive antiphon (Alma Redemptoris Mater, Ave Regina coelorum, Regina coeli, or Salve Regina) is added at the end. In 1911 the assignment of Psalms was formalized according to the following schema, differing only slightly from that established after the Council of Trent:

  • Sunday: 109; 110; 111; 112; 113;
  • Monday: 114; 115; 119; 120; 121;
  • Tuesday: 122; 123; 124; 125; 126;
  • Wednesday: 127; 128; 129; 130; 131;
  • Thursday: 132; 135i; 135ii; 136; 137
  • Friday: 138i; 138ii; 139; 140; 141
  • Saturday: 143i; 143ii; 144i; 144ii; 144iii

Feasts have their own Psalms, but the Psalms of Saints' days are generally one of two types:

'Male cursus' 'Female cursus'
CIX Dixit Dominus CIX Dixit Dominus
CX Confitebor CXII Laudate pueri
CXI Beatus vir CXXI Laetatus sum
CXII Laudate pueri CXXVI Nisi Dominus
CXVII Laudate Dominum omnes gentes CXLVII Lauda Jerusalem

The Anglican service of Evensong combines elements of Vespers with the succeeding office of Compline.

The current Catholic brevary replaces the traditional Divine Office with shortened Liturgy of the Hours with 2 psalms and adds a canticle from the Book of Revelations.


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