It is a good thing to show forth thy faithfulness every night. Where is God my Maker, who giveth songs in the night?
By His light I walked through darkness.
St. Athanasius observes that, from the creation of the world until Christ, the day preceded the night, as we read in Scripture; but from the coming of Christ, the night precedes the day; and thus we begin to celebrate the day solemnly from the evening of the preceding day. This was typical to show how from light men were to decline to darkness, from God to errors and idolatry; but from the time that the Sun of Justice—Christ—rose upon us, we are brought out of darkness into the light of Divine faith. Anna, the widow, departed not from the temple day and night; the holy shepherds, too, were keeping watch when they beheld the vision of angels in the sky; and the Saviour himself repeatedly reminds us of the need of watching by night, and taught us by His example, and admonished Peter in the time of the Passion: “Couldst thou not watch one hour?”
Know, therefore, that vigils are agreeable to God. Nothing is constant with men. Everything revolves and perishes. Alas! we proposed to perform great things when the sun was mounted to the meridian, and lo! in a short time, it descends to evening. The day is become old, the night is approaching; such is the frailty of this mortal life. How soon the day declines, the heat cools, the light sinks and is buried in the shade of evening; but we must run our course until we shall behold the Lord of lords in Sion. It is the vesper hour. “What a symbol is here! Let us say, therefore, with the disciples, whose hearts burned within them by the way: “Abide with us, for it is toward evening.” Now evening, the mother of night, will bring forth darkness; now sadness oppresses us, and despair sinks. The waters have come even unto our soul; the cold of iniquity freezes us, and a wounded conscience dreads the terrible sentence of the Judge. Abide with us, O most clement Lord, since without Thee we can do nothing; we are nothing! Thou art our consolation, Thou art our refuge and strength; Thou art a tower of might against the face of our enemies. The night of wickedness covers all things; the light of truth faileth; depravity abounds; charity grows cold; our eyes are turned to Thee, that we may not perish. Abide with us, that the darkness may not come upon us, and that the shining light which shineth to us in that dark place may not be extinguished in the night. The end of life is near; the evening of our day; deliver us from the power of darkness, and turn not in anger from Thy servants; because if Thou art with us, we shall fear no evil in the midst of the shadow of death, but with the brightness of Thy grace we shall be enlightened in that region of the dead. It is good to be with Thee, O Jesus. Abide with us, and turn not away from us. The darkest night draws on, in which no man can work. Abide with us, and close the door upon us, until the darkness shall pass over, and light again rise to visit us. Lead kindly Light, amid the encircling gloom, Lead Thou me on; The night is dark, and I am far from home, Lead Thou me on; Keep Thou my feet, I do not ask to see The distant scene; one step enough for me.
LIGHTEN our darkness, we beseech Thee O Lord; and by Thy great mercy defend us from all perils and dangers of this night for the love of Thy only Son our Saviour Jesus Christ. Amen.