Friday, October 9, 2009

Brother Benjamin's Compline

This past weekend I completed a seven-weekend run of the Minnesota Renaissance Festival. I portray a character known as "Benjamin 'the Reformer' Ingham.” Benjamin is a pre-Reformation protestant preacher. In addition to singing ancient hymns, holding a Sunday morning Gathering of the Faithful and general conversing with people, I lead what I call Celtic Compline each evening at 6:00. I know, 6:00 is closer to the time of Vespers, but I went with “Celtic Compline” thinking that it would possibly create more interest, especially by adding the word “Celtic” to it.

Compline is the final “Prayer hour” of the day, usually said upon retiring for the night. Below is a complete list of the Prayer Hours (also know as the Liturgy of the Hours, the Daily Office or the Divine Office.)

Matins, also known as Vigils or Nocturns, are done during the night hours and are sometimes referred to as the Night Office
Lauds or Dawn Prayer (at Dawn)
Prime or Early Morning Prayer (First Hour = 6 a.m.)
Terce or Mid-Morning Prayer (Third Hour = 9 a.m.)
Sext or Midday Prayer (Sixth Hour = 12 noon)
None or Mid-Afternoon Prayer (Ninth Hour = 3 p.m.)
Vespers or Evening Prayer (at Dusk)
Compline or Night Prayer (before retiring)

For the most part I used the complines from a book called Celtic Daily Prayer from the Northumbria Prayer Community. In this book are seven different complines, one for each night of the week. At the conclusion of last year's Festival, one young man gave me a compline that he had penned. I was blessed that he named it after my festival character and that he incorporated a number of the themes that I preached in the morning Gatherings. I will share that one with you.

We usually open with the beautiful Irish hymn, “Be Thou My Vision,” after which we begin in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Some make the Sign of the Cross, some do not. Then we go into the main part of the compline, closing with the Lord's Prayer and the singing of the Doxology. This could also be used at the conclusion of prayer meetings, home fellowship groups, etc.

Key: bold type is read aloud together; the asterisk (*)denotes a change of reader. When there are more people than reading parts, the compline is repeated until all have had a chance to participate.

Brother Benjamin's Compline
by Anonymous

Blessed art Thou O God who created light, and gave us that light through Jesus whom you sent to us that we might receive it and become like it. And blessed be the Spirit that reminds us of Your light when our eyes fail to see it.

*Be Thou our vision, our guide, our support. Grant that we may always follow Your path and reflect Your light so others will follow.

Keep us, Lord, that we will not stumble.

*The darkness comes and the night is long; the shadows grow and overtake us; the storm clouds blot out the sun.

Be our Light, Lord, that we will not stumble.

*The path is narrow and we tend to stray.
We often choose our own way and make it easy to fall.

Make our path straight and wide
that we will not stumble.

* The evil one puts rocks before us and we dig pits for one another. Left to ourselves we would build walls.

Make level the road, Lord,
that we will not stumble

* The winters of our soul are long; the world is cold; the road is covered with ice. Snow, like our trials, piles up so we cannot go on.

Show us Your steps to follow, Lord,
that we will not stumble.

* Our spirit is willing, but only sometimes, and our legs are weak. We cannot walk this road alone for the pits are many and the rocks are large. We simply are not able.

Support us, Lord,so that when we do stumble, we will not fall.


Thy word is a lamp unto my feet
and a light unto my path.
Let me abide in Thee and Thou in me,
that I might be light in the world.

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