If the service is accompanied the church organ will normally be played before and after the service. Many institutions have regular unaccompanied evensongs: at Exeter Cathedral and Ripon Cathedral, as well as the Chapel of King's College, Cambridge, for example, Friday evensongs are usually sung to a cappella settings of the liturgy.
In practice, the penitential introduction is often omitted, and apart from in some cathedrals, usually only one psalm is sung. A sermon or homily may be preached at the end on Sundays or other special occasions, such as important feast days, but does not form a set part of the liturgy. Also, one or more congregational hymns may be added to the service. In Anglo-Catholic churches, Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament frequently follows Evensong.
Rite One is a significantly simplified version of the traditional order for Evening Prayer. It is somewhat similar to the traditional Prayer Book rite, but the Confession of Sin has been truncated, the Phos Hilaron may be said, and only one reading need be used. The Magnificat and Nunc dimittis may both be used, or one of them may be used, or an alternative canticle may be used. The remainder of the service is similar to the traditional form.
Rite Two is substantially similar, but is rendered in modern language.
The ECUSA BCP also offers an "Order of Worship for the Evening", which may be used as a service in itself or as an introduction to Evening Prayer.
The Book of Alternative Services of the Anglican Church of Canada provides a simple version of Evening Prayer. The service may begin with the Service of Light or the Penitential Rite. Otherwise, it commences with the Preces and the Phos Hilaron. The Psalms are said followed by one or more readings and one or more canticles. The Apostle's Creed or the Summary of the Law is said, and then Intercessions and Thanksgivings may be offered. The Collect of the Day may follow. The service concludes with the Lord's Prayer and Dismissal.
A special form of Evensong, the "Vigil of the Resurrection" is provided for use on Saturdays.
(Instead of the preceding, a Form of Penitence and/or the Blessing of the Light may be used)
Provision is also made for the continued use of the form found in the Alternative Service Book, which is largely a contemporary rewording of the Prayer Book rite.
There are countless settings of the canticles, but a number of composers have contributed works which are performed regularly across the Anglican Communion. These range late Renaissance composers such as Thomas Tallis, William Byrd and Orlando Gibbons, to high Victorian geniuses such as Charles Villiers Stanford, Thomas Attwood Walmisley and to later masters of the form such as Herbert Murrill, Herbert Howells and Basil Harwood. Settings from outside the core tradition of Anglican church music have also become popular, with examples by Michael Tippett, Giles Swayne and Arvo Pärt. It is also widely regarded as acceptable to perform the canticles in Latin. The earliest settings of the Magnificat alternate between polyphony and plainchant, but later devices included alternating singing between the two "sides" of the choir (the singers standing on either side of the conductor, known as Decani and Cantoris), between soloists and the full ensemble, and between singers in various parts of the building. Typically the choir is either unaccompanied or accompanied by the organ, although it is not unusual for instrumental ensembles to be engaged for very important events.
As an ordinary service, Evensong will start with the preces and responses and proceed with the canticles and psalm set to Anglican chant, with an anthem after the Third Collect.
In extremely high church parishes Evensong may have plainchant substituted for Anglican chant and may conclude with Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament (or a modified form of "Devotions to the Blessed Sacrament") and the carrying of the reserved sacrament under a humeral veil from the high altar to an altar of repose, to the accompaniment of music.
The service may also include hymns. The first of these may be called the Office Hymn, and will usually be particularly closely tied to the liturgical theme of the day, and may be an ancient plainchant setting. This will usually be sung just before the psalm(s) or immediately before the first canticle and may be sung by the choir alone. Otherwise any hymns normally come toward the end of the service, maybe one either side of the sermon (if there is one), or following the anthem. These hymns will generally be congregational.
Most cathedrals of the Church of England, from where the service originates, and a large number of college chapels in the University of Oxford and the University of Cambridge offer this service regularly, often daily. In other provinces of the Anglican Communion, such as the Episcopal Church in the United States of America, the Anglican Church of Australia, and the Anglican Church of Canada, it is offered less often, although many parishes do hold special Evensong services occasionally. There are some notable exceptions, including Washington National Cathedral, which holds the service five times a week, and Saint Thomas Church Fifth Avenue in New York, which holds it four times each week, as well as Grace Cathedral in San Francisco, Grace Church in Madison, New Jersey, Trinity Church, Princeton, NJ, St. Paul's Cathedral, Buffalo, The Cathedral of St. Peter, St. Petersburg, Fl, St. John's Cathedral in Brisbane, St. Paul's Cathedral in Melbourne, St Peter's Cathedral, Adelaide, St. James' Cathedral, Toronto, St John's Cathedral, St. John's, Newfoundland and Christ Church Cathedral, Vancouver, and most of the larger churches and cathedrals of the Church of Ireland, all of which hold the service at least twice a week. The popularity of evensong has spread to other Protestant denominations, particularly churches of the Presbyterian Church (USA) and United Methodist churches which use a formal liturgical worship style. Examples in the Presbyterian Church include Fourth Presbyterian, Chicago, Illinois, and Independent Presbyterian Church, Birmingham, Alabama, both of which offer evensong services on a seasonal basis.
The BBC has, since 1926 broadcast a weekly service of Choral Evensong. Until recently this was on BBC Radio 3 on a Wednesday afternoon at 16:00 UK time (and occasionally also on Sunday evening). From February 25 2007 the regular slot for this broadcast has moved to Sundays, still at 16:00. This usually comes live from an English cathedral or collegiate institution. However, it is occasionally a recording, or is replaced by a different form of service or a service from a church elsewhere in the world and/or of another denomination. The most recent broadcast is available on the BBC's "Listen Again" service for up to a week after the original broadcast. In January 2008, the controller of Radio 3, Roger Wright, announced that from mid-September 2008, the live broadcast of Choral Evensong would return to the Wednesday slot at 16:00 and this would be repeated on the following Sunday at 16:00.