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In this study on evening worship in the Orthodox Church, Nicholas Uspensky reveals the true purpose for which the service of Vespers came into existence: the ancient Christian tradition of giving thanks for the evening light, and the faith which this tradition implies concerning the presence of Christ in the midst of those gathered in His name. While tracing the evolution of the rites of Vespers and the Liturgy of the Presanctified Gifts from their Old Testamental antecedents to their present forms today, he calls upon liturgical commentators to stand closer to the meaning attached to the service of evening worship by the ancient Church. This valuable historical-liturgical study also discusses the Communion which is added to the Vespers in the midst of the Fast, and the differences that exist between the Greek and Russian orders of service for the sacraments of penance and the Eucharist.
Nicholas Uspensky is Professor of Liturgy at the Leningrad Theological Academy. He is the most eminent specialist in the field of Liturgy and liturgical music in the Russian Church today. Born on January 3, 1900, in the family of a priest, he studied at the Seminary of Novgorod and received a graduate theological education at the Theological Institute which had been established after the Revolution in Petrograd (now Leningrad). He received the degree of Candidate of Theology (equivalent to an M.Div) in 1925. He continued research at the Institute under the direction of A. A. Dmitrievskii, the renowned liturgical scholar and the editor of ancient Euchologia and Typika.
Following the closing of the Institute in 1928, Uspensky began a career in secular institutions, specializing in music. In 1937, he graduated from the State Conservatory and defended a dissertation on the "Melodies of the Russian North.' With the re-establishment of a Theological Academy in Leningrad in 1946, N.D. Uspensky joined the faculty. He received a Degree of Master of Theology at Leningrad in 1949 and a Doctorate at the Moscow Theological Academy in 1957. N.D. Uspensky was awarded honorary degrees by the University of Thessalonica (1967) and St Vladimir's Seminary (1968).
Two volumes of his studies on ancient Russian Chant were published in 1965 and 1968 respectively by State presses. Uspensky's fundamental work on "The All Night Vigil" and the Eucharistic canon, or "Anaphora," as well as several other articles appeared in Bogoslovskie Trudy, published by the Patriarchate.