Thursday, September 12, 2019

A Note on “Bible Vigils”, and a Request for Information

Last week, we published pictures of advertisements from a variety of liurgical publications, mostly from the 1960s, taken by Dom Hugh Sommerville-Knapmen of Douai Abbey in England. The post also included a book produced by the monks of Douai for the celebration of “Bible services”, as recommended by paragraph 35.4 of Sacrosanctum Concilium, during the oh-so-brief period when the Church still held that the letter of a document promulgated by an ecumenical council is a thing to be taken seriously.

After seeing the post, an old friend of mine, Mr John Boyden, sent me the following message. “Regarding the recent NLM post, I recall a priest friend who was ordained in 1968 lamenting those days. He said devotions were discarded to be replaced by what was meant to be the newest rage in parish devotion, ‘Bible vigils’; but no sooner had they begun than they were likewise discarded. I had never heard of anyone else mentioning Bible vigils, nor any text of them, save once. I was looking over a hand missal, printed in the first days of the revolution... and I discovered a section in the back indicating Bible vigils. This was 30 years ago, so I don’t recall much of what I saw, other than the devotion seemed to be nothing more than one long liturgy of the Word with nothing else. It’s no wonder that they lasted two years--at most--before they were discontinued, probably for lack of interest by the faithful, for whom they were a rubbing of salt in the wound of having parish rosaries and novenas taken from them, and replaced first by this and then, nothing.”

I would like to invite our readers to share similar reports that they have heard from that era, or their personal experiences - what was going on with the devotional life of your church in the post-Conciliar era, both in regard to traditional practices like the Rosary and Benediction, and new things like Bible vigils? Do you know of similar flashes in the pan, or new things that were introduced and lasted? Feel free to answer in the combox or to my NLM email address:, and if possible, include pictures. If we get some interesting replies to this request, I will make a post out of them.

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