Definition of vespers in US English:



  • 1A service of evening prayer in the Divine Office of the Western Christian Church (sometimes said earlier in the day).

    • ‘Approaching the monastery on a Friday evening, we turned south instead of north and arrived too late for vespers.’
    • ‘During vespers one day, the crucifix lit up and a voice spoke: ‘Francis, do you not see how my house is falling into ruin?’’
    • ‘She also includes excellent hymn suggestions for vespers.’
    • ‘She and a friend go to Sunday morning services, share a leisurely lunch they bring from home, and afterwards attend the vespers.’
    • ‘There was also what they call vespers at night which went for an hour or two hours, so you were actually in session for a minimum of four hours every day, more likely five or six hours every day.’
    • ‘After vespers (an evening service), the celebration continues outside the church.’
    • ‘He went to a Catholic school, he did his vespers, he did his mass, he did his religious studies, but he lost his faith.’
    • ‘So while we all have our own jobs, and interests, we come together for dinners, for vespers, for music and art and activism, and just because we like each other.’
    • ‘After vespers and meditation the monks sit down to evening supper which is eaten in silence while they listen to readings from scripture.’
    • ‘As vespers drew to a close the pilgrims began to file quietly out and I was left alone at the back of the church with my rucksack.’
    • ‘His religious conversion came on Christmas Eve, when he went to Notre Dame during vespers in search of what he called ‘decadent exercises’: the quasi-religious tropes of which the symbolist poets were fond.’
    • ‘The most valuable aspect of this section of the book is his exploration of other contemporary collections of music for vespers.’
    • ‘The lights were on in the church, and the choir was making last-minute preparations for Christmas vespers.’
    • ‘The office is a pattern of nonsacramental prayer services that are celebrated at regular times of the day or night, primarily lauds in the morning and vespers at night.’
    • ‘The daily liturgical cycle began in the evening with vespers, following the Jewish reckoning by which the day begins at sunset.’
    • ‘Very few people, even inside the church, know what vespers really means.’
    • ‘Luckier still, we might find a vespers service at 7 p.m., and a much anticipated pilgrims' meal in a local restaurant.’
    • ‘The official celebration of the saint's feast day began the evening before at vespers and was followed by an early morning mass in the baptistery.’
    • ‘More recently, I watched as seminarians filed into the main chapel on a Sunday afternoon to sing vespers.’
    • ‘With the household interns we observe the ancient practice of fixed-hour prayer, keeping whenever possible four offices each day: morning prayers, midday prayers, vespers, and compline.’
    service, church service, religious rite, religious act, prayer, prayer meeting, praise, devotion, religious observance
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1 A service of evening prayer in other churches.


Late 15th century: from Old French vespres ‘evensong’, from Latin vesperas (accusative plural), on the pattern of matutinas ‘matins’.