Compline reforms?
  • Since I was mostly responsible for derailing the conversation on Liturgical book revisions, I apologize, and I'm starting a new thread for discussing the merits and issues of the different Compline usages.

    My question about what argument anyone could make to suggest Compline needed reform came from a place of ignorance. I am only familiar with the 1962 Compline, so the question is less rhetorical than it may seem.

    Looking at, it appears modern Compline is exactly the same as 1962 Compline. Maybe I'm missing something?

    Also, what do you all think about this book? I chant 1962 Compline each night (at least when I'm not too tired), but if this "more traditional" version is superior, I would consider switching.

    When I visited the Benedictines at Clearcreek, I was struck by how their Compline was missing the short responsory, and something else, but I forget what now. At the time I decided I didn't like their Compline as well as the Roman because of the parts "missing" which I was so used to.
    Thanked by 1tomjaw
  • Lots to respond to here. But as for your last paragraph, the big thing that's "missing" in Monastic Compline is the Nunc dimittis.
    Thanked by 1OMagnumMysterium
  • The way 1962 differs from previous versions of Roman compline is primarily that the psalms vary each day in 1962, whereas in the older versions it's always the same. There are probably different perspectives on the advantages and disadvantages of this, but one possible advantage is that the older Compline (like the Monastic version) is pretty easy to memorize.
  • a_f_hawkins
    Posts: 3,392
    We are talking of the 1920 Pius X breviary which preceded the current LOTH. The liturgy went through a number of revisions between 1955 and 1969:

    Rubrics 1960
    Reductions to Simpler Form 1955 (Cum Nostra Hac Aetate)

    De Anno et Eius Partibus (English translation from 1967 Dominican Breviary)

    Rubricarum Instructum

    General Rubrics

    Rubrics of Breviarium Romanum

    General Rubrics of the Roman Missal

    Tables of Feasts

    1960 Roman Calendar

    Variationes in Breviario et Missali Romano

    Variationes in Martyrologio Romano

    26 September 1964 decree Inter Oecumenici

    4 May 1967 decree Tres Abhinc Anno

    As far as I can see the standard assignment of psalms did not change at any time :-
    and for Compline this assignment always held (outside the Triduum), different every day of the week;
    and as far as I can see the first mention of adopting Sunday psalms every day is in 1967, permitting it where Compline is recited with a congregation (no mention of private recitation)

    I am of course open to correction.

    Thanked by 1OMagnumMysterium
  • Sorry, yes, I'm being imprecise. I believe that prior to the Pius X reforms, Compline (psalms similar to Sunday in the later books) and the little hours during the day (Psalm 118) were always the same. So it's not a change that happened in 1962; just in the twentieth century.
    Thanked by 1OMagnumMysterium
  • MatthewRoth
    Posts: 2,023
    Correct, and it was also, in the Roman rite, pss. 4, 30 (just part of it, the part essential to Compline), 90, and 133.

    The “loss” of the Nunc Dimittis has kept me from the Benedictine office and it may be a stupid reason to reject a vocation, but hey, I think of how unsearchable His ways are all the time.

    I have personally thought that the shift from ps. 118 at the Little Hours was a mistake, and the rise of liberalism even inside the seminaries as detailed, for example, by Mgr Tissier de Mallerais in the biography of Mgr Lefebvre was perhaps bound to happen anyway, but it’s a little on the nose. (A good way to pray that psalm is to say “Jesus” mentally when you get to words like “lex”, “mandatum”, and “justitia”.)

    As far as reformed versus traditional Roman Compline, regardless of the psalter:

    • the antiphons never changed except by those of the daily psalms after 1911 or in Paschal Tide (and there, the Sunday antiphon is repeated daily even after 1911) with one exception, which is particularly helpful as the Nunc Dimittis is therefore stable.

    The exception is on Holy Saturday; the antiphon Vespere autem sabbati of Vespers is repeated, and the canticle actually loses its antiphon for the paschal octave, but the tone is a variation of familiar plagal tones (sort of mode 2, sort of mode 8) and is also used for the psalmody of Compline on Holy Saturday (and ad libitum in Paschal Time at Benediction). In any case it’s an easy office to learn to sing.

    • I personally find making the hours identical in structure to be less conducive to Compline as night prayer and Lauds and Vespers as the two principle hours (this is what the council explicitly envisioned!). Before the reform, the hymn of these hours is in the middle, ish.

    • On a similar note, the old office begins with the blessing of the lector and “Noctem quiétam et finem perféctum concédat nobis Dóminus omnípotens.”. This is moved to the blessing of the end of the hour in the Liturgia Horarum, and the 1 Peter 5 reading is gone. The confession is done more like the Penitential Act of the NO, and the transition to the rest of the office is abrupt (iBreviary doesn’t even have that in private recitation; this part is obligatory in private if you use the preconciliar office in any way).

    • the chapter from Jeremiah is replaced by a variable reading.

    • the collect Visita quaesumus now changes (or there are options; iBreviary is not a reliable source, but in any case, it’s enough to show how unstable and dependent on choice it’s become).

    • the hour loses its unique ending (Benedicamus Domino, followed by a blessing). The Marian antiphons lose the versicles and collect followed by the versicle and response “Divinum auxilium maneat semper nobiscum. Amen.” So the office just sort of ends, and this even in the Triduum, where, following the traditional rite, the antiphon is paused after Compline of Spy Wednesday (including after Lauds or the last hour sung in choir and then Vespers if separated from Compline before 1955) and resumed after Compline of Holy Saturday.
    Thanked by 1OMagnumMysterium
  • Wow, that 1907 Solesmes book is interesting. There a a lot of small differences in the chant tones, more significant I think than the textual differences.

    Yes, it was the Nunc Dimittis that was missing, I just couldn't remember through my brain fog.
    The “loss” of the Nunc Dimittis has kept me from the Benedictine office and it may be a stupid reason to reject a vocation, but hey, I think of how unsearchable His ways are all the time.

    It's funny you should say that, because the very same thing made me much less inclined to joining the Benedictines as well. I thought "Sunday psalms every day isn't that bad, but losing the In Manus Tuas and Nunc Dimittis would really hurt".
    Thanked by 2MatthewRoth tomjaw
  • Bombarde16
    Posts: 129
    There is no authority in this comment, but my understanding of the Benedictine office compline is that the nunc dimittis was never a part of of the office. It was added to the Roman office, but Benedictine compline has always been without the canticle...

    I'm happy to be educated if I'm wrong with this understanding...
    Thanked by 1OMagnumMysterium
  • chonakchonak
    Posts: 9,173
    Looking at the 1934 Antiphonale Monasticum, it seems the Nunc was only included on Holy Thursday and Holy Saturday at Compline, and on All Souls.
  • igneusigneus
    Posts: 362
    The “loss” of the Nunc Dimittis has kept me from the Benedictine office and it may be a stupid reason to reject a vocation, but hey, I think of how unsearchable His ways are all the time.

    Should anyone say "You are not a real monk, for you hardly had anything to sacrifice when joining the monastic ranks," I will answer "I did in fact make a sacrifice and it was not small, for I gave up the Nunc dimittis and the fifth psalm of every Vespers" :)
  • MatthewRoth
    Posts: 2,023
    Those were days where they used the Roman office in whole or in part.

    Compline and Little Hours of the dead were also a bad reform of Pius XII…
  • When entering Religious Life there are many things which are to be given up that are unexpected, and many things which you think are to be given up and are given again. The pardox or the calling
  • smcatharine
    Posts: 48
    The Dominican Compline had 2-3 psalms every day. During Lent special responsories and special super psalm and/or Nunc Dimittis antiphons for special feasts. Coming from the OSB tradition it was quite a change.
    The traditional OSB Compline I know had the Nunc Dimittis but not an antiphon before it.
    All by way of saying that the Divine Office has a lot more variety than most of us are really aware of.
  • MatthewRoth
    Posts: 2,023
    Well, Dominican Compline is essentially Roman, but the curial version is the uniquely sparse one, which leads to the stability noted above. Variations in the (short) responsory and at the Nunc dimittis as are found in the OP office are not unusual.