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date: 20 November 2019

Compline (from Lat. completus: ‘completed’)locked

  • Ruth Steiner
  • , revised by Keith Falconer


(from Lat. completus: ‘completed’)

One of the services of the Divine Office. Traditionally performed at the end of the day, Compline seems to have originated as a form of prayer before going to bed; this was once the purpose of Vespers, with which it shares common theological themes, but Compline was never as variable or as imposing as its earlier counterpart. Basil the Great (d 379) mentioned a form of Compline, perhaps still very rudimentary, in his so-called Longer Rules. Both he and the monastic rule written for Arles by St Aurelian (bishop 546–51) referred to the singing of Psalm xc (Vulgate numbering) during the Office. Two very early Western sources, the Ordo monasterii attributed to Alypius of Thegaste and the Institutiones of John Cassian, imply the singing of fixed psalms. It is perhaps because of this long-established tradition that the Rule of St Benedict (c530) excludes the service from its regular course of psalms....

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