Vatican Radio reports that Pope Benedict XVI will preside over first Vespers on Monday December 31, marking the end of 2012 and the Feast of Mary, Mother of God. Vespers comprises the evening prayer of the Divine Office read each day by clergy around the world and sung in many monasteries and some cathedrals.
Vespers will be sung in St. Peter’s Basilica at 5 pm Rome time and will include the exposition of the Blessed Sacrament, the singing of the Te Deum, Eucharistic benediction and prayers of thanks to God for the year just past. The Blessed Sacrament is exposed on the altar for the adoration of the faithful in attendance. The “Te Deum Laudamus” is the liturgical hymn of praise and thanksgiving recited or sung on special occasions such as the end of a calendar year.
At the end of the celebration, Pope Benedict will go outside into St. Peter’s Square to pray in front of the large outdoor nativity scene which this year was donated by the southern Italian region of Basilicata. Annual nativity scene takes special prominence in the square during the Christmas season and is considered a great honor for the sponsoring group.