Candlelit. Serene. Spare.
Sunday, 31 March; Sunday, 7 April; Monday, 15 April, 7:00—7:30 pm
This Lent, All Saints is offering three Compline services, in the hope that we can begin offering them monthly in the fall.
As a place of spiritual grounding for the community we want to reach out broadly to share the strength, peace, and joy that exists here at All Saints!
Compline is a way of sharing this place of peace and tranquility with even more people in our community.
The focus in every Compline service is contemplative silence punctuated by a simple service chanted by a choir. Each service lasts approximately 30 minutes. The atmosphere is candlelit, serene, and spare. Compline draws the day, or week to completion, and prepares us for rest and rejuvenation.
WHAT IS COMPLINE?
Compline is a middle English term derived from French complir meaning “complete”. It is the completion of the day. A brief, simple service, a preparation for sleep, built, like all the daily offices, around the chanting or recitation of psalms. To these are added some antiphons and responses, a scripture reading, a hymn (historically Te Lucis ante terminum),
the canticle Nunc dimittis, the Apostles’ Creed and Lord’s Prayer, confession and absolution, and a final blessing. The traditional psalms appointed for Compline are 4, 31, 91 and 134, of which 91 seems to have been the earliest in general use. At the close of the service, which was traditionally sung to plainchant or simply recited, an antiphon to the Virgin Mary was typically sung, often in a more elaborate polyphonic setting.
Compline is believed to have originated with the Rule of St Benedict in the early sixth century, though some scholars believe it to be even older. In England, it was observed during the Middle Ages using Sarum chants rather than their related continental Gregorian counterparts, but it was later suppressed at the Reformation. This was partly because of its ‘Catholic’ nature including an homage to the Virgin Mary, and partly because monastic communities were themselves suppressed. Elements of Compline were, however, incorporated into Anglican Evensong, notably the Responses and Nunc dimittis. In the 1928 revision (Church of England) of the 1662 Book of Common Prayer, an English version of Compline was included. In 1929 the Plainsong and Medieval Music Society published this complete with its appropriate chants, only to be threatened with legal action by the Church Commissioners, the stated reason being alleged breach of Crown Copyright but the possible underlying one being a suspicion of Catholic observances reappearing in Anglican worship. Since then, the controversy has died down, and the remainder of the twentieth century saw the inclusion of Compline into many Anglican Prayer Books (Irish, English, Scottish, and Indian). Its first inclusion in an American Prayer Book was in 1979. However, Compline services have been sung in the US since at least 1959 when St. Mark’s Cathedral in Seattle began a weekly service which now draws upwards of 300 people. Compline, with its unique sense of poetry and peace, has become a cherished part of Anglican worship, both for private devotion and as a part of the spiritual life of religious and collegiate communities.
To learn more, check out this 6 minute video Compline: A Spiritual Awakening which traces the history of the service in general and at St. Marks, Seattle in particular.
Please come experience Compline at All Saints this Lent and let us know what you think.