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Celebrating Night Prayer

from
Celebrating Common Prayer

edited by Brother Tristam SSF & Brother Reginald SSF


Prayer at night has long been the practice of Christian worshippers. The pattern of the ancient office of Compline as we know it today grew out of the early monastic custom of reciting it at the bedside, usually in darkness and immediately before going to sleep. A fixed pattern was required if the monks were to say it from memory. When in time the Office was moved from dormitory to chapel, it became embellished but it probably remains the simplest form of daily prayer which the Church has inherited through the centuries.

Singing the office is one of the joys of prayer: worship glorifies God and singing enhances the proclamation of faith. Monastic singing was usually simple and intended to be the vehicle of prayer. The Sarum tradition of Gregorian plainsong has been known to Anglicans for many years and is the basis of most of the music provided here. The older four-line staff usually associated with plainsong has, however, been replaced by the modern, five-line staff, with key signatures: this should make it easier, when it is desired, to give out the notes on an instrument. The plainsong is designed to enable the words to be sung with the emphasis they would have in good, clear reading. Seasonal hymns have been included for optional use and some suggestions given about suitable alternatives.

 

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