Friday 22 September 2023
Friday of week 24 in Ordinary Time 
About today  

Compline (Night Prayer)

Compline is designed to be recited last thing at night before going to sleep. Its Latin name completorium means something that fills up or completes something, and indeed Compline completes the Liturgy of the Hours and the day.

In monasteries, Compline is the last collective act of the day. After it the monks dispers and thesummum silentium or Greatest Silence begins. At home, one can celebrate Compline before going to bed or in bed before turning out the light. Or even after, if one memorises it.

Compline has a simple one-week cycle of psalms and readings. But the rules specifically say that the Compline of Sundays may be recited on every night without changing anything, especially by people who want to memorise it and recite it by heart.

The structure of the Hour

Compline begins with an examination of conscience. In public celebrations this can be one of the formulas used at the beginning of Mass, stopping before the "Lord have mercy" unless it is built in to the formula. In private recitation the same can be done, or the examination of conscience can be a purely interior affair. Do be careful, however. If you are the sort of person who goes on worrying and worrying about things, last thing at night may not be the right time to start doing this. Whatever you find in your examination of conscience, dump it straight in God's lap and let him take care of it while you sleep. God loves you more than you do yourself.

Next comes a psalm - or occasionally two short psalms.

An extremely short reading follows: it is only a couple of verses long. It is followed by the brief responsory, "Into your hands, Lord, I commend my spirit".

The Nunc Dimittis comes next. This is the canticle of thanks by Simeon when his life is at last complete and he has seen the Saviour.

A short prayer follows, then a simple blessing and an anthem to Our Lady.