Practice During Advent: Night Prayers

From THE LITURGICAL YEAR, Book 1, Advent
Dom Guéranger OSB
First Translation: 1867

After having made the Sign of the Cross, adore the Divine Majesty, Who has so mercifully preserved you during this day, and so plentifully bestowed upon you, every hour, His grace and protection. Begin by reciting the hymn which the Church sings at Vespers during Advent:


 O Jesus, Thou kind Creator of the heavens, eternal light of believers, and Redeemer of all mankind, hear the prayers of Thy suppliants.

  Lest the world should perish by the fraud of the devil, Thou, impelled by the vehemence of Thy love for us, didst Thyself become the remedy of all our weakness.

  To expiate the sin of the whole world, Thou didst come from the sanctuary of the Virgin's womb, a Victim destined to the Cross.

   How glorious is Thy power, when, at the very sound of Thy name, Heaven and Hell bend the trembling knee!

  We beseech Thee, dread Judge of the last day, defend us from our enemies by the amour of Thy heavenly grace.

Power, honour, praise, and glory, be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the holy Paraclete, for ever and ever. Amen.

After this hymn, say the Our Father, the Hail Mary, and the Apostles' Creed, as in the morning. Then make the examination of conscience, going over in your mind all the faults you may have committed during the day; think how unworthy sin makes us of the merciful visit of our Saviour, and make a firm resolution to avoid sin for the future, to do penance for it, and to avoid the occasions which might lead you into it.

  The examination of conscience concluded, recite the Confiteor with heartfelt contrition, and then give expression to your sorrow by the following act, which we have taken from the Venerable Cardinal Bellarmine's Catechism:


  O my God, I am exceedingly grieved for having offended Thee, and with my whole heart I repent of the sins I have committed: I hate and abhor them above every other evil, not only because, by so sinning, I have lost Heaven and deserved Hell, but still more because I have offended Thee, O infinite Goodness, Who art worthy to be loved above all things. I most firmly resolve, by the assistance of Thy grace, never more to offend Thee for the time to come, and to avoid those occasions which might lead me into sin.

You may then add the acts of faith, hope, and charity:


  O my God, I firmly believe whatsoever the holy, Catholic, Apostolic, Roman Church requires me to believe: I believe it because Thou hast revealed it to her, Thou Who art the very truth.


  O my God, knowing Thy almighty power, and Thy infinite goodness and mercy, I hope in Thee that, by the merits of the Passion and death of our Saviour Jesus Christ, Thou wilt grant me eternal life, which Thou hast promised to all such as shall do the works of a good Christian; and these I resolve to do with the help of Thy grace.


  O my God, I love Thee with my whole heart and above all things, because Thou art the sovereign Good: I would rather lose all things than offend Thee. For Thy love also, I love, and desire to love, my neighbour as myself.

Then say to our blessed Lady, in honour of the ineffable dignity of her maternity, the following


 Sweet Mother of our Redeemer, gate whereby we enter Heaven, and star of the sea! help us, we fall; yet do we long to rise. Nature looked upon thee with admiration, when thou didst give birth to thy Divine Creator, thyself remaining, before and after it, a pure Virgin. Gabriel spoke his Hail to thee; we sinners crave thy pity.

 V. The Angel of the Lord declared unto Mary.
  R. And she conceived of the Holy Ghost.


  Pour forth, we beseech thee, O Lord, Thy grace into our hearts; that we to whom the Incarnation of Christ Thy Son was made known by the message of an Angel, may by His Passion and Cross be
brought to the glory of His Resurrection. Through the same Christ our Lord. Amen.

You would do well to add the Litany of our Our Lady.


  Grant, O Lord, we beseech Thee, that we Thy servants may enjoy constant health of body and mind, and by the glorious intercession of blessed Mary, ever a Virgin, be delivered from all present affliction, and come to that joy which is eternal. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.

Here invoke the holy Angels, whose protection is, indeed, always so much needed by us, but never so much as during the hours of night. Say with the Church:

Holy Angels, our loving Guardians, defend us in the hour of battle, that we may not be lost at the dreadful judgment.
    V. God hath given His Angels charge of thee.
  R. That they may guard thee in all thy ways.


    O God, Who in Thy wonderful providence hast been pleased to appoint Thy holy Angels for our guardians, mercifully hear our prayer, and grant we may rest secure under their protection, and enjoy their fellowship in Heaven for ever. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.

Then beg the assistance of the Saints by the following antiphon and prayer of the Church:

ANT. Behold, the Lord will come, and with Him all His Saints; and on that day there shall be a great light, alleluia.
V. Behold, the Lord shall appear upon a white cloud.
R. And with Him thousands of Saints.


  Visit, we beseech Thee, O Lord, and purify our hearts by Thy grace: that when our Lord Jesus Christ Thy Son shall come, together with all His Saints, He may find us ready to give Him a place within us: Who liveth and reigneth with thee for ever and ever. Amen.

And here you may add a special mention of the Saints to whom you bear a particular devotion, either as your patrons or otherwise; as also of those whose Feast is kept in the Church that day, or who have been at least commemorated in the Divine Office.

This done, remember the necessities of the Church suffering, and beg of God that He will give to the Souls in Purgatory a place of refreshment, light, and peace. For this intention recite the usual prayers:


Out of the depths I have cried to Thee, O Lord: Lord hear my voice.
Let Thy ears be attentive to the voice of my supplication.
If Thou, O Lord, wilt mark iniquities; Lord, who shall stand it?
For with Thee there is merciful forgiveness: 
and by reason of Thy law, I have waited for Thee, O Lord.
My soul hath relied on His word: my soul hath hoped in the Lord.
From the morning-watch even until night, let Israel hope in the Lord.
Because with the Lord there is mercy: and with Him plentiful redemption.
And He shall redeem Israel from all his iniquities.

  V. Eternal rest give unto them. O Lord. 
R. And let perpetual light shine upon them.
V. From the gate of Hell.
R. Deliver their souls, O Lord.
V. May they rest in peace.
R. Amen.
V. O Lord, hear my prayer.
R. And let my cry come unto Thee.
V. The Lord be with you.
R. And with Thy Spirit.


  O God, the Creator and Redeemer of all the faithful, we beseech Thee to grant to the souls of Thy servants the remission of their sins, so that by our prayers they may obtain pardon for which they long, O Lord, Who livest and reignest, world without end. Amen.

   May they rest in peace. Amen.

  Here make a special memento of such of the faithful departed as have a particular claim upon your charity; after which, ask of God to give you His assistance, whereby you may pass the night free from danger. Say, then, still keeping to the words of the Church:

ANT. Save us, O Lord, while awake, and watch us as we sleep:
that we may watch with Christ, and rest in peace.
   V. Vouchsafe, O Lord, this night.
  R. To keep us without sin.
   V. Have mercy on us, O Lord.
   R. Have mercy on us.
   V. Let Thy mercy, O Lord, be upon us.
  R. As we have hoped in Thee.
   V. O Lord, hear my prayer.
  R. And let my cry come unto Thee.


   Visit, we beseech Thee, O Lord, this house and family, and drive from it all snares of the enemy: let Thy holy angels dwell herein, who may keep us in peace, and may Thy blessing be always upon us. Through Jesus Christ our Lord, Thy Son, Who liveth and reigneth with Thee, in the unity of the Holy Ghost, God, world without end. Amen.

And that you may end the day in the same sentiments with which you began it, repeat your prayer
for the coming of the Saviour:

V. Drop down dew, ye heavens, from above, and let the clouds rain the Just One.
R. Let the earth be opened, and bud forth the Saviour.

To which you may add one of the 4 weekly prayers for the corresponding week, and then retire to rest in the expectation of Him Who is to come in the midnight.



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