Compline

This page outlines the structure and detailed rubrics of the Office of Compline. Said structure can be divided into two categories – 1. The Normal or Usual Arrangement and 2. Unusual Arrangements for the Sacred Triduum, Easter Octave, & All Souls’ Day.

I. The Normal or Usual Arrangement of Compline

All stand and the Lector/Cantor, bowing towards the Officiant, intones the “Jube, Domne (or Domine*) benedicere” to which the Officiant replies with the blessing and all then respond “Amen”.

*When the Officiant is not one who has received Holy Orders (i.e. a Deacon or Priest), the Lector says “Domine”  in place of “Domne” and bows toward the tabernacle, since the request for a blessing is then directed to Our Lord alone.

The Lector/Cantor chants the Short Lesson, and he alone genuflects at the words “Tu autem…” to which all respond “Deo gratias”.

All make the Sign of the Cross as the Officiant says the “Adjutorium…” All respond with “Qui fecit…”

A short pause ensues during which time a silent “Pater noster” or a short Examination of Conscience takes place.

When the Officiant is an ordained cleric, he alone, bowing profoundly, then says the “Confiteor” in a low, recto tono voice. After this, all make a bow toward him and say the “Misereatur” in the same low, recto tono voice. The Officiant, then saying “Amen” stands upright, while everyone else bows profoundly and says the “Confiteor” in the same low voice. The Officiant responds with the “Misereatur” and then all stand upright and make the Sign of the Cross as the Officiant says the “Indulgentiam”.

When the Officiant is not an ordained cleric, following the short pause, all then bow profoundly and say together the “Confiteor” in a low, recto tono voice, once through, omitting the phrases “et tibi, Pater; et te, Pater”. The Officiant says the “Misereatur …” substituting “nostri” and “nobis” for “vestri” and “vobis” respectively. All the stand upright and make the Sign of the Cross as the Officiant says “Indulgentiam…”.

The Officiant says “Converte nos…” at which time all make a Sign of the Cross over their hearts with their right thumbs. All respond with ”Et averte…”

All making the Sign of the Cross, the Officiant says the ”Deus in adjutorium…” All respond with “Domine, ad adjuvandum…” Then all continue together with the entire “Gloria Patri” bowing slightly - i.e. the “Gloria Patri” is not said in verse/response format in this instance. All say together “Alleluia” or “Laus tibi…” (from the Saturday before Septuagesima Sunday until the Wednesday in Holy Week).

The Officiant intones the antiphon up to the asterisk according to the day of the week and all say together the remainder of the antiphon. The Sunday antiphon “Miserere…”, in addition to Sundays, is also prayed on all First and Second Class Feasts and during the Octaves of Christmas and Pentecost. During Eastertide, i.e. from the Saturday before Low Sunday until the Friday in the Octave of Pentecost, the same triple “Alleluia” antiphon is prayed daily, without exception.

The Cantor intones the first psalm (according to the day of the week, or of Sunday, if applicable per the above), after which all sit.

The psalms are prayed with each side of the church alternating the verses. The side of the aisle on which the Cantor sits finishes the first verse, the opposite side then says the second verse, the Cantor’s side the third verse, and so on. All bow at each “Gloria Patri” ending each of the three psalms.

At the end of the psalms, all together in unison repeat the antiphon straight through – i.e. there is no intonation when the antiphon is repeated at the end of the psalms.

All then stand and the Officiant intones the Hymn “Te lucis” in the applicable tone according to the feast or season. The same side of the aisle in the Church on which the Officiant stands continues the first verse of the hymn with him. The Cantor’s side then sings the second verse. The Officiant’s side sings the third verse, and everyone together sings the final two stanzas of the third verse. All bow slightly for the first three stanzas of the third verse which is always a Trinitarian doxology.

The Officiant says the Chapter “Tu autem…” and all respond “Deo gratias”.

The Cantor says all the verses for the “In manus tuas…” Short Responsory to which all make each response accordingly. The “Gloria Patri” is only said as far as the first half and the response to this verse is NOT “Sicut erat…” but the repetition of “In manus tuas…” From the Saturday before Passion Sunday until Holy Wednesday, the “Gloria Patri” is omitted; therefore, immediately following the response “Commendo…” all sing together once again the “In manus tuas…” The omission of the “Gloria Patri” above does not apply when a First or Second Class Feast occurs during Passiontide, on which days the “Gloria Patri” is said as usual when the Office is of the Feast.

The Cantor says “Custodi…” and all respond “Sub umbra…”

The Officiant intones the “Salva nos” antiphon as far as the asterisk and all continue the remainder of this antiphon.

The Cantor intones the first verse of the Canticle of Simeon, at which time, all make the Sign of the Cross. The Cantor’s side of the church finishes the first verse. The opposite side sings the second verse, the Cantor’s side the third verse, and so on. All bow slightly at the “Gloria Patri”.

All repeat the “Salva nos” antiphon together in unison once through from the beginning.

The Officiant, if he be an ordained cleric, says “Dominus vobiscum” and all respond “Et cum spiritu tuo.” When the Officiant is not an ordained cleric, he says “Domine exaudi orationem meam” instead of “Dominus vobiscum” to which all respond “Et clamor meus ad te veniat”. The Officiant then says “Oremus”.

On penitential days, i.e. the weekdays of Advent and Lent, Ember Days outside the Octave of Pentecost, and on Second and Third Class Vigils outside of Eastertide, all, except the Officiant, now kneel for the Collect when the Office is of the Season. When the Office is of a Feast, of any rank, during these times, all continue standing.

The Officiant says the Collect “Visita…” and all respond “Amen”.

If a penitential day (defined above), all stand again following the Collect.

The Officiant says again “Dominus vobiscum” or “Domine exaudi…” as applicable to which make the appropriate response.

The Cantor says “Benedicamus Domino” and all respond “Deo gratias”.

The Officiant slowly gives the blessing in a low, recto tono voice,with all making the Sign of the Cross at the appropriate words and all respond “Amen”.

Outside of Eastertide, on Monday-Friday, without exception even for greater feasts, all, except the Officiant, now kneel for the Final Marian Antiphon. On Saturday and Sunday nights, all continue standing. During Eastertide, all stand every night for the “Regina coeli”. The Officiant stands and intones the applicable Marian Antiphon according to the Season, after which, he also kneels if it be Monday-Friday outside of Eastertide. All continue singing the Marian Antiphon straight through with no alternations.

Each Marian Antiphon has a Solemn Tone and a Simple Tone. The Solemn Tone is sung on all Saturday and Sunday nights, on all First and Second Class Feasts (when the Office is of the Feast), and on each night during the Octaves of Christmas and Pentecost. The Simple Tone is sung on all other days inclusive of all Ferial Days of any rank (e.g. Ash Wednesday, weekdays of Holy Week).

After the Marian antiphon is finished, the Cantor says the applicable versicle and all make the corresponding the response. Then the Officiant alone stands and says the prayer to which all respond “Amen”.

All making the Sign of the Cross, the Officiant says in low, recto tono voice, the ”Divinum auxilium..” and respond “Amen. Thus ends Compline according to the normal arrangement of the 1962 Breviarium Romanum.

 II. Unusual Arrangements for Compline

Compline for the three days of the Sacred Triduum

 Holy Thursday & Good Friday:

 Compline on these two days takes place at a suitable time following the Stripping of the Altars and the Solemn Afternoon Liturgy, respectively. Compline is not sung in chant, but either spoken or recited recto tono, since only the major Hours (Matins, Lauds, and Vespers) are chanted on these days.

 Compline immediately begins with a silent “Pater noster” or short Examination of Conscience. Following this, all stand, and the “Confiteor”, “Misereatur” and “Indulgentiam” are said according to the normal arrangement, taking in account whether or not the Officiant is an ordained cleric.

 The Cantor then immediately begins the first psalm (Psalms are taken from Sunday Compline), and all sit and proceed to alternate the verses according to the normal procedure. The “Gloria Patri” doxology is omitted at the end of each psalm.

 Following the last verse of the third psalm, all stand. There is no antiphon.

 The Cantor begins the Canticle of Simeon, and all make the Sign of the Cross. Each side alternates the verses as usual. The “Gloria Patri” is omitted. There is no antiphon.

 All kneel following the Canticle of Simeon and the Officiant intones the “Christus factus…” antiphon and continue the remainder of this antiphon together in unison. On Holy Thursday, end at the words “ad mortem”. On Good Friday, end at the words “autem crucis”.

 Then, in silence, all say a “Pater noster”.

 The Officiant, alone stands and recites the Collect “Visita…” in a low voice until the words “nos semper”. He then, in silence, says the conclusion “Per Dominum…” Thus ends Compline.

 On Holy Saturday:

 Compline is omitted this night by all who participate in the Easter Vigil. For those who do not participate in the Easter Vigil, Compline is prayed exactly the same way as on Holy Thursday and Good Friday, except that the antiphon “Christus factus…” is omitted. At that point following the Canticle of Simeon, all kneel and immediately say the “Pater noster” in silence and continue as above.

Compline for the Easter Octave (i.e. Easter Sunday – Easter Friday inclusive)

Compline begins the same way as the normal arrangement up to and including the “Deus in adjutorium/Gloria Patri/Alleluia”.

 There is no antiphon at this point.

 After the single “Alleluia” above, the Cantor immediately intones the first psalm (Psalms are taken from Sunday Compline), and all sit and proceed to alternate the verses according to the normal procedure.  The psalms are sung in Tone 8G.

 Following the last verse of the third psalm, all sing together in unison the quadruple “Alleluia” antiphon. Then all stand.

 There is no Hymn, Chapter, nor Short Responsory.

 The Cantor intones the Canticle of Simeon in the special melody indicated for the Easter Octave, and all make the Sign of the Cross. Each side alternates the verses as usual.  There is no antiphon before or after this Canticle.

 Following the Canticle of Simeon, the Officiant intones the antiphon “Haec dies” and all continue singing this antiphon straight through once.

 Following the “Haec dies” antiphon, the remainder of Compline continues according to the normal arrangement beginning with the “Dominus vobiscum” or “Domine exaudi…” and the Collect.

 The “Regina cœli” Marian Antiphon is sung in the Solemn Tone throughout the entire Octave of Easter, and the same is always sung standing throughout the entire Easter Season.