Way back in the sixth century an abbot called Benedict became worried about the worshiping lives of those in his order of monks. He came up with a lifestyle which was anchored in seven periods of daily prayer, with work and leisure living into this spiritual framework.
These daily “Offices” have survived into our own Book of Common Prayer, in a revised and modernized form. The longer offices of Morning and Evening Prayer provide a bedrock for daily devotion. There are also shorter, daily devotions in the Morning, at Noonday and in the Evening, intended for individual use. The last of the offices of the day is, as it was for Benedict’s monks, Compline.
Compline is service of readings and song. Over many centuries, beautiful plainchant was composed to hold the Psalms, hymns and prayers as they were prayed daily. It is to this ancient musical tradition that we will return.
Compline service will take place in the lovely Cooper Chapel, at 9 p.m. on the first Wednesday of each month. The music and liturgy will be simple, (20-30 min) using Gregorian Chant, sung by 4 voices, a cappella, and will seek to recapture the ancient practice of calming the mind, assessing and letting go of what has happened during the day, in order to be at peace through the night, to awaken to a new day.
There will be an optional community gathering time at 8:30 p.m. on these days, in the Courtyard prior to the Compline service. It is our hope that this will provide a space for folk to wind down from a busy day. The gathering will provide opportunity for listening and sharing; to ask others how their day went, to let go of the difficulties, and to celebrate the joys of what each day brings to us.
Compline allows us to say goodbye to the day and to rest in God’s mercy, through reflecting on our lives and participating in the liturgy. Careful listening and deliberate presence to let go of distraction are forms of active participation. It has been said that the mind protects the soul. This is a way to calm the mind to be able to listen to the soul, perhaps to hear the still small voice within.
Compline begins on October 4, and continues on the first Wednesday of each month at 9 p.m. During Advent the service will be each Wednesday.
Rachel Root and Mother Caroline