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People reading the Bible in church

What Happens at an All-Night Prayer Vigil

People reading the Bible in church

All-night prayer vigils are a service associated with the Eastern Orthodox Church and typically consist of an aggregation of the three canonical hours. It’s usually observed on Sundays or major Christian events like Christmas Eve. The all-night prayer vigil service like the name suggests, lasts all night. Let’s take a look at what happens during the service.   


All-Night Vigil Service

The all-night vigil helps the faithful connect with Christ and encourages them to let go of the past and embrace the future with the help of prayer. A censing of the church takes place throughout the night. The vigil lasts all night and is divided into three different parts. Let’s take a look at them.


Great Vespers

The Great Vespers happens at the very beginning of the vigil and takes people all the way back to the Old Testament period, the beginning of creation. The service begins by making a silent sign of the Holy Cross with a censer before the Holy Table. It depicts the movement of the Holy Spirit. The church-goers then recite various biblical verses.

Man praying in a church


Matins usually happens at a later hour of the morning and typically begins with the reading of the six psalms. It points out three related paths of struggle that Christians face. This is followed by singing of the 117 Psalm, the Resurrection Troparion, the Kathismata, and the Polyeleos. Then the Holy Gospel is read by all attendees.


The Hours

The Hours mark the last part of the all-night prayer vigil. After the priest’s final blessing, the First Hour is read. The Hours usually contain a variety of texts pertinent to that particular time of the day. Apart from the First Hour, three more Hours are read throughout the night. The vigil then comes to an end.

The all-night vigil represents the spirit of orthodoxy. If you want to attend one, we’re the best place for you to have your best experience.  

House of Mercy Christian Assembly is a ministry training and bible school that enlightens people about the word of Christ. We do this in various ways like Christian youth camps, all-night prayer vigils, Christian marriage counselling, church Sunday service, and more.

We have a variety of community projects for you to volunteer at or you could help raise funds for a church building. You can contact us here to learn more about our all-night prayer vigil service.