Be present, O merciful God, and protect us through the hours of this night, so that we who are wearied by the changes and chances of this life may rest in your eternal changelessness; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.


Compline is the Church’s second evening prayer, and as opposed to Vespers, it is a subjective and individual prayer for the soul who wants to make her peace with God.  The hour is a masterpiece of construction, the work of St. Benedict; we might call it the ideal night prayer. Particularly beautiful is the symbolism of Compline.  The hour begins uniquely without introduction, and at once halts for an examination of conscience. It is important to notice that our liturgical prayer thinks not only of ourselves, but of all our fellow men: for them too it is evening now.

Compline is a night prayer to life.  It is precisely in this setting that it contains some splendid thoughts.  The short and meaningful blessing at the beginning of Compline expresses the double application of the night prayer very concisely: “May the Lord Almighty grant us a quiet night and a perfect end.” 

Background from the story of salvation is the agony of Jesus in Gethsemane; we pray Compline for the Gethsemane hours in our life. Thus, the hour expresses earnest petition; contrition, plea for protection, and deepest confidence are its main elements.