Lesson Two: Compline -- The Simplest Office
The fixed form of Compline begins at page A45 and is as follows:
- "Pray, Sir [if alone, Lord] give me thy blessing," followed by the Benediction
- The Brief Lesson
- "Our help is in the Name of the Lord, etc."
- Our Father (p. A3)
- Confession and Absolutions (p. A4)
- "Turn us then, etc." (p. A45)
- Opening Versicles and Gloria Patri (A2)
- The Psalms of the day, from the appropriate day in the B Section. The antiphon is begun, followed by the three Psalms, followed by the antiphon in full. After each Psalm, the Gloria Patri is said.
Return to Section A
- The Hymn (p. A45)
- The Little Chapter (p. A45)
- The Brief Respond, which changes only for Passiontide and Eastertide (p. A45-A46)
- The Nunc Dimittis with its antiphon (p. A46)
- The Preces (p. A46-A47)
- The Collect of the Office [NOTE: One not in Holy Orders substitutes the following for "The Lord be with you" -- "Lord, hear my prayer; And let my cry come unto thee."]
- The Closing Versicles (p. A47)
- The appropriate Marian Antiphon (p. A8-A9)
- The Our Father, Hail Mary, and Apostle's Creed (p. A2)
- The Sacrosanctae (p. A10)
As you can readily see, the office of Compline takes approximately twenty minutes to recite, although with practice the average time will be reduced to fifteen.
While there is a good deal of flipping back and forth within the A Section, due to the most common prayers being separated out and placed at pages A1 through A10, the only aspect of Compline which may change from day to day are the Psalms taken from the correct day in the B Section.
The reader should take care to recite Compline carefully in the above manner for at least one month before moving on to another office. Indeed, the basic structure of Compline is identical to that of the other offices: preliminary prayers, followed by Psalms, hymns and canticles, a collect, and closing prayers.
Congratulations on mastering the first office!
Now that the reader is familiar with the structure of the Breviary and its various sections, Compline may be tackled.
Compline -- said at bedtime -- is the simplest office in the sense that it uses the fewest number of variable elements. On every day of the Church Year, Compline requires only the fixed form in Section A, and the day's Psalms in Section B.
Compline does not concern itself with saint's days, so there is absolutely no need to worry about whom is being celebrated. The sole exception is that on exceptionally "high" feasts, such as the Immaculate Conception, the Psalms for Sunday Compline may be used.
Mastering the office of Compline takes three steps:
(1) Become familiar with its form in Section A, and see how much of it is fixed no matter what day it is;
(2) Set a ribbon or icon card at the appropriate day in the weekly Psalter, Section B;
(3) Begin the recitation in Section A, turning to Section B to pick up the day's Psalms when necessary.