Chanting Compline with the LOH
  • Pes
    Posts: 623
    I'm putting together a complete booklet for chanting RC "Night Prayer" (Compline) on weekdays. Facing Latin/English, official texts (except translations of the two hymns), pointed psalms, and chants for nearly everything. I've got everything I need except for settings of the antiphons. Where did these antiphons come from? I can't find them in the Antiphonale from 1911. Were they just invented? Here are the texts:

    Monday: Tu, Domine Deus, patiens et multae misericordiae (Ps 85)
    Tuesday: Non abscondas faciem tuam a me, quia in te speravi (Ps 142:1-11)
    Wednesday: Esto mihi in Deum protectorem et in dominum refugii (Ps 30:1-6); De profundis clamavi ad te, Domine (Ps 129)
    Thursday: Caro mea requescet in spe (Ps 15)
    Friday: In die clamavi et nocte coram te, Domine (Ps 87).

    I can only find settings of the De profundis. The others remain a mystery. I'll happily invent neo-Gregorian melodies for these, following the antiphon chants for Compline laid out in the Antiphonale, but I'd prefer to find established ones.

    Many thanks for any pointers.

    Eventually I'll do one of these booklets for Sundays. It's actually a fair bit of work to set all this. Runs about thirty pages if you're aiming to make it friendly. Still, a nice tidy project: the psalms for Compline for example are on a one-week cycle, and the ordo is very straightforward.

    Thank God the reformers kept "In manu tuas" and the "Nunc dimittis." There's a glorious polyphonic repertoire for them.
  • Pes
    Posts: 623
    By the way, read Laszlo Dobszay's Critical Reflections on the Divine Office linked on the Musica Sacra homepage.
  • mjballoumjballou
    Posts: 992
    I think they're new. There are probably settings for them in that Latin-French LOH published earlier this year.

    I hope we'll have a chance to see a sample of your work. It is more than "a fair bit of work." Doing this is a labor of love.
  • Dan F.Dan F.
    Posts: 205
    Sorry, I've no help for finding the antiphons. But I look forward to the praying the result!
  • Pes
    Posts: 623
    Prof. Dobszay says:

    There is no good reason to change the psalms at Compline. The Roman form (4, 3o/vss 1-6, 90,133) can be retained in the full Office whilst the rules for adaptation may allow the alternation of the two possible combinations (4, 30/vss i-6, 133 or sole psalm 90).

    So I'll include those as well in an appendix.
  • mjballoumjballou
    Posts: 992
    Compline's unchanging nature in the traditional Office made it easy to memorize. It was also the hour most often performed by intentional communities of lay people because it could be easily mastered. Whenever I feel the need to raise my blood pressure, I re-read Prof. Dobszay's discussion of the restructuring of the Roman Breviary.
  • Geoff
    Posts: 22
    According to the GILH, the Sunday psalms may be used on any day. The Liber Cantualis has all the music for chanting Compline for after Sunday Evening Prayer I & II. Thus if you want to retain the traditional usage of a fixed Compline, you could do it this way. I'm not sure, though, whether you'd have to use the daily readings & prayers or if you could just use (one of) the Sunday readings & prayers. Does anybody know any more about this?
  • Actually... the only people required to use Compline as it is written are priests. I think we laypeople could use a 12th-c monastic version if it so pleased us.
  • Pes
    Posts: 623
    Mike, yes, we in the laity are free to do that, of course. My aim here is to reintroduce the Hours with zero, or minimal, objection. At the same time, the booklet will have a page in the back about the structure and changes of Compline, to educate.
  • Regarding the melodies for the might want to talk to Paul Ford on this forum. He has set the entire Compline office in English to Benedictine melodies. He could point you to his source or even share his work.
  • RobertRobert
    Posts: 343
    Are these the antiphons from the Liturgia Horarum? They probably do not have melodies.

    The Ordo Cantus Officii that was recently posted here gives the following antiphons for the sung office, most of which are in the pre-conciliar Antiphonale (consult index) or the Psalterium Monasticum from the 1980s (unfortunately out of print):

    Monday: Suavis et mitis es, Domine, et multae misericordiae omnibus invocantibus te.

    Tuesday: Ad te, Domine, levavi

    Wednesday: Esto mihi, Domine (in the Psalterium Monasticum); De profundis (PM)

    Thursday: Caro mea requiescet in spe

    Friday: Intret oratio mea (Psalterium Monasticum)

    They are in no sense less "official", any more than the Graduale propers for the Mass are to be considered inferior to the Missale antiphons where the texts differ.
  • I have assembled one such booklet for Compline, of which I made two versions: one in Latin and one bilingual in Latin and Portuguese. You may find them at

    To make up for the missing antiphons I used Sandhofe's proposals at, which are by no means official: those in Ordo Cantus Officii are, while Sandhofe's are neo-gregorian antiphons made up by him from older sources.

    Unfortunately there are some mistakes in my booklets, and I guess that, since my Latin is far from perfect, there are probably still more in the Latin-only version I am not aware of. Nevertheless I am trying to make a newer version and hope to finish it in a couple of weeks.

    I hope this will be of some use to you.
  • Pes
    Posts: 623
    That's splendid work, dvalerio!
  • Should anyone want to chant Compline in Latin according to the Roman Rite, ordinary form, I updated the booklet at, that has everything needed.
    I also updated another booklet with the complementary psalmody for the Little Hours.
    All warnings about errors and mistakes are welcome.
    When I have time I plan to finish another booklet with the Office for the dead.
  • Thank you so much for your work. Please know that it's appreciated.
  • Very nicely done. Thank you.