Night Prayer

These are the night prayers which are found in the old English prayer books, originating mainly from Saint Benedict in the 6th century. The words in bold are those which are said or sung in church by all the faithful in unison. This is an ancient tradition of the eastern orthodox Church which can still be seen in the western rite. I have put together and edited these prayers from various sources. The passages from the Bible are basically from the King James Version of 1611, as well as from the Douai-Rheims Version of 1582 and 1610 (see here). After these prayers, one may recite the Salutations (or «Akathist») to the Blessed Virgin, as well as other prayers, such as the one to the guardian angel. I hope this will be helpful for you.

Raphael Papanikolaou

TRADITIONAL ENGLISH COMPLINE

A General Thanksgiving

God pantokrator, father of all compassions, we thine unworthy servants do give thee most humble and hearty thanks for all thy goodness and loving-kindness to us and to all men. We bless thee for our creation, preservation, and all the blessings of this life; but above all for thine inestimable love in the redemption of the world by our Lord Jesus Christ, for the means of grace, and for the hope of glory. And we beseech thee, give us that due sense of all thy mercies, that our hearts may be unfeignedly thankful, and that we shew forth thy praise, not only with our lips, but in our lives; by giving up ourselves to thy service, and by walking before thee in holiness and righteousness all our days; through Jesus Christ our Lord, to whom with thee and the Holy Ghost be all honour and glory, world without end. Amen.

The Lord pantokrator grant us a quiet night and a perfect end.
Amen.

Brethren, be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour: whom resist, steadfast in the faith. (1 Peter 5:8-9)

But thou, O Lord, have mercy upon us.
Thanks be to God.

Our help is in the name of the Lord,
who made heaven and earth. (See Psalms 123:8)

The following or other suitable words of penitence may be used:

I confess to God pantokrator, to blessed Mary ever Virgin, to blessed Michael the Archangel, to blessed John the Baptist, to the holy Apostles Peter and Paul, to all the Saints, and to you, brethren: that I have sinned exceedingly in thought, word and deed: through my fault, through my fault, through my most grievous fault. Therefore I beseech blessed Mary ever Virgin, blessed Michael the Archangel, blessed John the Baptist, the holy Apostles Peter and Paul, all the Saints, and you, brethren, to pray for me to the Lord our God.

O God, make speed to save us:
O Lord, make haste to help us. (See Psalms 69:1)

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son:
and to the Holy Ghost;
as it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be:
world without end. Amen.

Praise ye the Lord.
The Lord’s name be praised.

The following or another suitable hymn may be sung:

To Thee before the close of day,
Creator of the world, we pray,
That, with thy wonted favour, thou
Wouldst be our guard and keeper now.

From all ill dreams defend our sight,
From fears and terrors of the night;
Withhold from us our evil foe,
That no pollution we may know.

O Father, that we ask be done,
Through Jesus Christ, thine only Son;
Who, with the Holy Ghost and thee,
Doth live and reign eternally.

Amen.

Psalmody

One or more of the following psalms may be used:

Psalm 4

When I invocated, thou hast hearkened unto me, O God of my righteousness: in tribulation thou hast enlarged unto me. Have pity upon me, and hearken unto my prayer. Ye sons of men, how long will ye be of heavy heart? why love ye vanity, and seek lying? And know ye, that the Lord hath made his godly one marvelous: the Lord will hearken unto me, when I shall cry unto him. Be ye angry, and sin not: commune with your own hearts upon your beds, and be still. Sacrifice ye the sacrifice of righteousness, and hope on the Lord. There be many that say: Who will shew us the good things? The light of thy countenance, O Lord, is signed upon us: thou hast given gladness into my heart. By the fruit of their corn, and wine, and oil they are multiplied. In peace in the self same I will sleep, and rest: because ٭ thou Lord ٭ hast singularly settled me in hope.

Psalm 30:1-5

Οn thee, O Lord, have I hoped, let me never be confounded: in thy righteousness deliver me. Incline thine ear unto me, make haste to deliver me. Be unto me for a God defender, and for a house of refuge: that thou mayest save me. For ٭ thou ٭ art my fortress, and my refuge: and for thy name’s sake thou wilt conduct me, and wilt nourish me. Thou wilt bring me out of this snare, which they have hid for me: for ٭ thou ٭ art my defender. Into thy hands I commit my spirit: thou hast redeemed me O Lord thou God of truth.

Psalm 90

He that dwelleth in the help of the Most High, shall abide in the secret place of the God of heaven. He shall say to the Lord: Thou art my succourer, and my refuge: he is my God, and I will hope on him. Because ٭ he ٭ will deliver thee from the snare of the hunters, and from the noisome word. With his feathers shall he cover thee, and under his wings shalt thou hope. With a shield shall his truth compass thee: thou shalt not be afraid of the fear of the night; of the arrow flying in the day, of any business walking in the dark; of invasion, and the demon of noon. A thousand shall fall on thy side, and ten thousand on thy right hand: but to thee it shall not approach. But thou shalt consider with thine eyes, and shalt see the retribution of sinners. Because ٭ thou, O Lord, ٭ art my hope: thou hast made the Most High thy refuge. There shall no evil come to thee: and scourge shall not approach to thy tabernacle. For he shall give ٭ his angels ٭ charge of thee, that they keep thee in all thy ways. On their hands they shall bear thee, lest perhaps thou knock thy foot against a stone. Upon the asp, and the adder thou shalt walk: and thou shalt tread upon the lion, and the dragon. For he hath hoped on me, therefore I will deliver him: I will protect him, because he hath known my name. He shall cry to me, and I will hear him: with him I am in tribulation: I will deliver him, and will glorify him. With length of days I will replenish him: and I will shew him my saluation.

Psalm 133

Lo now, bless the Lord, all ye the servants of the Lord: which stand in the house of the Lord, in the courts of the house of our God. In the nights lift up your hands unto the holy places, and bless ye the Lord. The Lord bless thee out of Zion: who made heaven and earth.

At the end of the psalmody, the following is said or sung:

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son:
and to the Holy Ghost;
as it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be:
world without end. Amen.

Scripture Reading

One of the following short lessons or another suitable passage is read:

Thou, O Lord, art in the midst of us, and we are called by thy name; leave us not, O Lord our God. (Jeremiah 14:9)

Come ye unto me, all that labour, and are burdened, and I will refresh you. Take up my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek, and humble of heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is sweet, and my burden is light. (St. Matthew 11:28-30)

Now the God of peace, who brought again from the dead the great shepherd of the sheep, our Lord Jesus, in the blood of the eternal covenant, make you perfect in every good work, that ye may do his will; working in you that which is well-pleasing in his sight; through Jesus Christ; to whom is glory for ever and ever. Amen. (Hebrews 13:20-21)

Thanks be to God.

The following responsory may be said:

Into thy hands, O Lord, I commit my spirit.
Into thy hands, O Lord, I commit my spirit.
For thou hast redeemed me O Lord thou God of truth.
Into thy hands, O Lord, I commit my spirit.

(See Psalms 30:5)

Keep me as the apple of an eye:
in the secret place of thy wings wilt thou hide me. (See Psalms 16:8)

Gospel Canticle

The «Nunc dimittis» (The Song of Simeon) is said or sung.

Preserve us, O Lord, while waking,
and guard us while sleeping,
that awake we may watch with Christ,
and asleep we may rest in peace.

Now lettest thou thy servant depart, O Master, according to thy word in peace: for mine eyes have seen thy salvation, which thou hast prepared before the face of all peoples; a light unto the revelation of the Gentiles, and the glory of thy people Israel. (St. Luke 2:29-32)

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son :
and to the Holy Ghost;
as it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be :
world without end. Amen.

Preserve us, O Lord, while waking,
and guard us while sleeping,
that awake we may watch with Christ,
and asleep we may rest in peace.

Prayers

Lord, have mercy upon us. (thrice)
Christ, have mercy upon us. (thrice)
Lord, have mercy upon us. (thrice)

Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive them that trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation; but deliver us from evil. Amen.

Blessed art thou O Lord the God of our fathers:
and laudable and superexalted unto the ages. (See Daniel : The Song of the Three Holy Children 29)

Let us bless the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost:
let us praise and superexalt him unto the ages. (See Daniel : The Song of the Three Holy Children 35-66)

Blessed art thou, O Lord, in the firmament of heaven:
and to be praised, and glorious, unto the ages. (See Daniel : The Song of the Three Holy Children 34)

The pantokrator and most merciful Lord guard us and give us his blessing.
Amen.

O God, ٭ thou, ٭ upon turning again, shalt quicken us:
and thy people shall be glad in thee. (See Psalms 84:6) 

Shew us, O Lord, thy mercy,
and may thou grant us thy salvation. (See Psalms 84:7)

Vouchsafe, O Lord, to keep us this night without sin:
O Lord, have mercy upon us, have mercy upon us.

O Lord, hearken unto our prayer:
and let our cry come unto thee. (See Psalms 101:1) ]

Let us pray.

One or more of the following Collects is said:

Visit, we beseech thee, O Lord, this place, and drive from it all the snares of the enemy; let thy holy angels dwell herein to preserve us in peace; and may thy blessing be upon us evermore; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Lighten our darkness, we beseech thee, O Lord; and by thy great mercy defend us from all perils and dangers of this night; for the love of thy only Son, our Saviour, Jesus Christ. Amen.

O Lord Jesus Christ, son of the living God, who at this evening hour didst rest in the sepulchre, and didst thereby sanctify the grave to be a bed of hope to thy people: make us so to abound in sorrow for our sins, which were the cause of thy Passion, that when our bodies lie in the dust, our souls may live with thee; who livest and reignest with the Father and the Holy Ghost, one God, world without end. Amen.

Look down, O Lord, from thy heavenly throne, illuminate the darkness of this night with thy celestial brightness, and from the sons of light banish the deeds of darkness; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Be present, O merciful God, and protect us through the silent hours of this night, so that we, who are wearied by the changes and chances of this fleeting world, may repose upon thy eternal changelessness; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

The Conclusion

In peace in the self same we will sleep, and rest:
for ٭ thou Lord ٭ hast singularly settled us in hope. (See Psalms 4:8) 

Abide with us, O Lord,
for it is toward evening and the day is far spent. (See St. Luke 24:29) 

As the watchmen look for the morning,
so do we look for thee, O Christ. (See Psalms129:6)

Come with the dawning of the day
and make thyself known in the breaking of the bread. (See St. Luke 24:35) ]

Let us bless the Lord.
Thanks be to God.

The pantokrator and merciful Lord,
the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost,
bless us and preserve us.
Amen.

Traditional English Compline PDF (for printing)

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