Compline — Prayer for the Closing of the Day

Compline — Prayer for the Closing of the Day May 4, 2017

This video presents a service of Compline, sung live by the Choir of Clare College, Cambridge, England, under the direction of Graham Ross, recorded in Clare College Chapel.

It includes an Introit by the sixteenth century composer, Robert White (1538-1574), Christe qui Lux es et Dies. It also includes an anthem by the nineteenth century composer, Josef Rheinberger (1839-1901), Abendlied.

Compline is the final liturgical prayer office of the day. It represents the final prayers that anyone praying the Divine Office (the Liturgy of the Hours) prays before retiring for the night. Several Psalms are traditionally associated with Compline, including Psalms 4, 31, 91, and 134. Also associated with Compline is the Canticle of Simeon, the Nunc Dimittis — the words of Simeon the prophet which he prayed after seeing the baby Jesus in the Temple of Jerusalem:

Lord, now you let your servant go in peace;
Your word has been fulfilled.
My eyes have seen the salvation
You have prepared in the sight of every people,
A light to reveal you to the nations
and the glory of your people, Israel.

There is a three-fold theme to Compline: it represents endings: not only the ending of the day that has just passed, but also the ending of life itself, and then — looking forward — the end of the world, at the close of time. What all three of these themes have in common is radical trust in God. When we go to sleep at the end of the day, we trust we will awaken again. Likewise, when we surrender our spirit at the end of our life, we breathe our last trusting that we are moving into a deeper and larger life. And finally, knowing that all things must past and even the world as we know it someday must end, we trust even the very cosmos itself into the hands of God.

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Compline is a lovely prayer. Hope you enjoy the video. Here’s the lyrics to the special music in it.

Introit: Christe qui Lux es et Dies (Robert White)

Christe qui lux es et dies,
Noctis tenebras detegis,
Lucisque lumen crederis,
Lumen beatum praedicans.

Precamur sancte domine,
Defende nos in hac nocte,
Sit nobis in te requies,
Quietam noctem tribue.

Ne gravis somnus irruat,
Nec hostis nos surripiat,
Nec caro illi consentiens,
Nos tibi reos statuat.

Oculi somnum capiant,
Cor ad te semper vigilet,
Dextera tua protegat
Famulos qui te diligunt.

Defensor noster aspice,
Insidiantes reprime,
Guberna tuos famulos,
Quos sanguine mercatus es.

Memento nostri domine
In gravi isto corpore,
Qui es defensor animae,
Adesto nobis domine.

Deo patri sit gloria,
Ejusque soli filio,
Cum spiritu paraclyto,
Et nunc et in perpetuum. Amen.

(Christ, who art the light and day,
You drive away the darkness of night,
You are called the light of light,
For you proclaim the blessed light.

We beseech you, Holy Lord,
Protect us this night.
Let us take our rest in you;
Grant us a tranquil night.

Let our sleep be free from care;
Let not the enemy snatch us away,
Nor flesh conspire within him,
And make us guilty in your sight.

Though our eyes be filled with sleep,
Keep our hearts forever awake to you.
May your right hand protect
Your willing servants.

You who are our shield, behold;
Restrain those that lie in wait.
And guide your servants whom
You have ransomed with your blood.

Remember us, O Lord,
Who bear the burden of this mortal form;
You who are the defender of the soul,
Be near us, O Lord.

Glory be to God the Father,
And to his only Son,
With the Spirit, Comforter,
Both now and evermore. Amen.)

Anthem: Abendlied (Josef Rheinberger)

Bleib bei uns, denn es will Abend werden, und der Tag hat sich geneiget.

(Bide with us, for evening shadows darken, and the day will soon be over.)

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