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Before the fourth century allusions to the evening prayer are found in the earlier Fathers, Clement I of Rome (Clemens Romanus), St. Pliny the Younger, in his famous letter at the beginning of the 2nd century, speaks of liturgical reunions of the Christians in the morning and in the evening: "coetus antelucani et vespertini". Much earlier than this we find an evening Office corresponding to both that of Vespers and that of Compline. John Cassian calls it Vespertina synaxis, or Vespertina solemnitas.
Ignatius, Clement of Alexandria, Tertullian, Origen, the Canons of St. Vespers is, therefore, together with Vigils, the most ancient Office known in the Church. Benedict used the name vespera which has prevailed, whence the French word vêpres and the English vespers.
A similar form of the service is found in the Vespers section of The Lutheran Hymnal.After the readings from the Old Testament, the Trisagion is chanted, followed by the Epistle and Gospel, and the Divine Liturgy proceeds normally from that point.On these occasions, as at other times when the Gospel is read at vespers, the Little Entrance is made with the Gospel Book instead of the censer.In addition, during the 19th and early 20th centuries, synagogues in the Classical Reform tradition sometimes referred to their Friday evening worship services as "vespers".Nowadays, such services are instead called kabbalat shabbat, which means "welcoming the Sabbath".