The Office of Compline

Posted On: Wednesday, May 12, 6:42 am

Compline, or night prayer, is the final prayer of the day according to the Liturgy of the Hours. The tone of the office is meditative and peaceful, inviting a thoughtful completion to the day and calling us to rest in God’s peace. Like all the prayers of the Divine Office, Compline consists of prayers, psalms, and scripture readings. All prayers of the Divine Office can be prayed as a group or individually, making the practice a wonderful addition to one’s devotional life. While most of the office contains prescribed psalms and prayers for each day, rotating on a four-week cycle; the texts for Compline repeat every week, and the Church even allows the text for Sunday’s Compline to be prayed on every night of the week. This makes Compline an excellent entry-point into the Liturgy of the Hours, because it can be easily memorized and prayed nightly. Said individually, the office takes only 15-20 minutes to say. 

At 9 pm on the third Sunday of each month, Compline is sung by a small choir in the nave at Our Lady of Perpetual Help. Candles are lit in an otherwise dark church, and the complete office is prayed by the singers on behalf of those gathered, and all of our Parish community. I pray that you’ll come (or tune in online), sit with us in the night’s darkness, and offer whatever may be on your heart into God’s loving hands. We hope that the service will lead you to a deeper sense of God’s peace as you finish the day and prepare for the week ahead. It is enough to simply come, sit, and pray. If you’d like to familiarize yourself with the prayers of this office, you’ll find the full text below, or you can download the text as a printable PDF here. 

The text begins with an Invocation, praying to God for assistance and a restful night. An examination of conscience (Confiteor, Kyrie eleison) follows. Then, a hymn is sung, and varies according to the liturgical season. At the conclusion of the hymn, the psalmody begins. For Compline, we sing Psalms 91 and 134. Psalm 91 speaks to confidence in God, trusting in His protection (He will conceal you with his wings; you will not fear the terror of the night). Psalm 134 calls us to prayer (Lift up your hands to the holy place and praise the Lord throughout the night). After the Psalms, a brief responsory (Into your hands, Lord, I commend my spirit) and a reading from the Book of Revelation. The Gospel Canticle (Song of Simeon) is sung, followed by closing prayers and an antiphon to the Blessed Virgin Mary, which concludes the office. 

INVOCATION

Lord almighty, grant us a quiet night and a peaceful death.
Amen.
Our help is in the name of the Lord.
The maker of heaven and earth. 
O God, make speed to save us. 
O Lord, make haste to help us. 
Glory be to the Father, and to the Son,
And to the Holy Spirit.
As it was in the beginning, 
Is now, and ever shall be,
World without end. Amen. Alleluia.

EXAMINATION OF CONSCIENCE

I confess to almighty God
and to you, my brothers and sisters,
that I have greatly sinned,
in my thoughts and in my words,
in what I have done and in what I have failed to do,
through my fault, through my fault,
through my most grievous fault;
therefore I ask blessed Mary ever-Virgin,
all the Angels and Saints,
and you, my brothers and sisters,
to pray for me to the Lord our God.

Kyrie eleison (Lord, have mercy)
Christe eleison (Christ, have mercy)
Kyrie eleison (Lord, have mercy)

PSALM 91

He will conceal you with his wings; you will not fear the terror of the night. 

You who dwell in the shelter of the Most High,
who abide in the shade of the Almighty,
Say to the LORD, “My refuge and fortress,
my God in whom I trust.”

He will rescue you from the fowler’s snare,
from the destroying plague,
He will shelter you with his pinions,
and under his wings you may take refuge;
his faithfulness is a protecting shield.

You shall not fear the terror of the night
nor the arrow that flies by day,
Nor the pestilence that roams in darkness,
nor the plague that ravages at noon.

Though a thousand fall at your side,
ten thousand at your right hand,
near you it shall not come.
You need simply watch;
the punishment of the wicked you will see.

Because you have the LORD for your refuge
and have made the Most High your stronghold,
No evil shall befall you,
no affliction come near your tent.

For he commands his angels with regard to you,
to guard you wherever you go.
With their hands they shall support you,
lest you strike your foot against a stone.

You can tread upon the asp and the viper,
trample the lion and the dragon.
Because he clings to me I will deliver him;
because he knows my name I will set him on high.

He will call upon me and I will answer;
I will be with him in distress;
I will deliver him and give him honor.
With length of days I will satisfy him,
and fill him with my saving power.

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son,
And to the Holy Spirit.
As it was in the beginning, 
Is now, and ever shall be,
World without end. Amen.

He will conceal you with his wings; you will not fear the terror of the night. 

PSALM 134

Lift up your hands to the holy place and bless the Lord throughout the night. 

O come, bless the Lord, all you who serve the lord;
Who stand in the house of the Lord
In the courts of the house of our God.

Lift up your hands to the holy place
And bless the Lord throughout the night. 
May the Lord bless you from Zion.
He who made both heaven and earth. 

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son,
And to the Holy Spirit.
As it was in the beginning, 
Is now, and ever shall be,
World without end. Amen.

Lift up your hands to the holy place and bless the Lord throughout the night. 

READING (Revelation 22:4-6)

They shall see the Lord face to face
And bear His name on their foreheads. 
The night shall be no more. 
They shall need no light from lamps or the sun
For the Lord God shall give them light
And they shall reign forever. 

RESPONSORY

Into your hands, O Lord, I commend my spirit. 
You have redeemed us Lord, God of truth. 
Into your hands, O Lord, I commend my spirit. 
Glory be to the Father, and to the Son,
And to the Holy Spirit.
As it was in the beginning, 
Is now, and ever shall be,
World without end. Amen.
Into your hands, O Lord, I commend my spirit. 

GOSPEL CANTICLE

Protect us, Lord, as we stay awake. Watch over us as we sleep. 
That awake we may keep watch with Christ.
And asleep, rest in his peace. 

Lord, now let your servant go in peace.
Your word has been fulfilled. 

My own eyes have seen the salvation
Which you have prepared in the sight of every people. 

A light to reveal you to the nations
And the glory of your people Israel

CLOSING PRAYERS

Lord, we have celebrated today the mystery of the rising of Christ to new life.
Let us now rest in your peace, safe from all that can harm us,
And rise again, refreshed and joyful, 
To praise you throughout another day. 
We ask this through Christ our Lord. 
Amen.

The Lord almighty grant us a quiet night and a peaceful death. 
Amen. 

MARIAN ANTIPHON

Ave Regina Caelorum

Ave, Regina caelorum,
Ave, Domina Angelorum: 
Salve, radix, salve, porta
Ex qua mundo lux est orta:

Gaude, Virgo gloriosa, 
Super omnes speciosa, 
Vale, o valde decora, 
Et pro nobis Christum exora.
Hail, O Queen of Heaven.
Hail, O Lady of Angels
Hail! Thou root, hail! Thou gate
from whom unto the world, a light has arisen:

Rejoice, O glorious Virgin,
Lovely beyond all others,
Farewell, most beautiful maiden,
And pray for us to Christ.