Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Compline Cheat Sheet

After saying Night Prayer (aka Compline) for so many years, I kinda sorta,  more or less had most of the psalms, readings, and concluding prayers by heart.

Except for one thing:  remembering which  antiphons,psalms, readings, and prayers go with each night of the week.  So  I made up a little cheat sheet which gives just the first few words of each element. I can use this as a prompt to remind me and get me started. For example, last night I looked at my cheat sheet  and saw this for Monday:

Ant. O Lord our God, unwearied...
PS 86  Turn your ear, Lord and give answer...
Reading:  1 Thess. 5 God has destined us...
Prayer: Lord give our bodies...

With just those little prompts I was able to recite the entire thing from memory. (obviously we all know the Canticle of Simeon by heart already, right? So no need for a prompt there.)

Why does it matter to me to be able to do Compline by heart? Well, I like to keep my breviary downstairs because that's where I usually do all the other hours. But I do Night Prayer in my bedroom. With the cheat sheet on the nightstand, there's no need to lug the breviary around. I know I could just use my cell phone or tablet by my bed, but it's supposed to be a good idea to not view back lit screens close to bed time.

Furthermore, a little scripture memory work isn't a bad thing.

One of these day's I"ll write up my entire Compline Cheat Sheet in bloggable form and put it on a tab so that any of you who are interested can print it.

Do you have any psalms memorized, whether from Night Prayer or any other hour? I'm pretty good with the psalmody of Sunday week I, although I sometimes get bogged down in the Canticle from Daniel. ("Wait...was it frost and chill or dew and rain, praise the Lord?')

Oh, and let's make this a Q&A for any and all questions about how to pray the Liturgy of the Hours. Put your questions in the comments below, and if I don't get right back to you, likely as not some other smart reader will.


  1. I love my Benedictine breviary, the same 3 psalms every compline, 7 days a week...4, 91 and 134. The Benedictine tradition limited it to those 3 psalms precisely for memorization, before monks were generally literate, they could pray compline in the privacy of their cells and have it memorized, no need for a breviary!

    As an oblate, I find myself praying with my Benedictine Daily Prayer breviary more and more.

    1. You can do this with a standard Breviary as well. It's permitted to use the psalms and reading from Sunday every day for precisely this reason!

    2. True that! I often do Sunday II as my default Compline.

  2. I love that I know Psalm 95 and the Canticle of Zechariah by heart. It just happened, I wasn't even trying, which means anyone can learn scripture.

  3. While I've got the Gospel canticles memorized, I generally open to them and read from the text. Otherwise I tend to mentally zone out. Same reason I bring a missal to Mass.

  4. I understand that there is a change Mary Magadalen's feast? Does that mean she gets an Evening Prayer 1 tonight?

    1. No. ONly solemnities (or feasts of Lord occuring on a Sunday) have an evening prayer I. However, this upgrade from memorial to feast means that Mary Magdalene's office is all taken from the proper and/or common of saints, with the psalmody of Sunday week I used for Morning Prayer.