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02 June 2019 8pm

This ancient, meditative service was sung by monastic communities at the end of the day before sleep. In the beautiful surroundings of Ely Cathedral, lit by moonlight and candlelight, take in the Museum of the Moon and be transported to another world with ethereal music sung by the Lay Clerks of Ely Cathedral.

A Brief History of Compline

In the early Church, monastic desert communities continued the Jewish practice of prayer at principal hours of the day. For these early monks, the hours of prayer became commemorative of the work of Christ. Daybreak equalled the resurrection, the third hour represented the descent of the Holy Spirit or condemnation of Christ, the sixth hour portrayed the crucifixion, the ninth hour paralleled the death of Christ, and the evening service symbolised the light of Christ in the darkness of the world.

Each of these services later had a Latin name often related to the time of day. Matins ('morning') is the first service of the day, was prayed between midnight and 3am; Lauds the next service, came between 3am and daybreak; Prime, the first hour of the daylight at 6am; Terce at the third hour of daylight at 9am; Sext at the sixth hour or noon; and None at the ninth hour or 3pm. The last of the daily services or 'offices' came to be known as Compline, taken from the Latin word 'completorium' meaning 'completion of the day'. Benedict of Nursia (c. 480-550 A.D.), often called the 'Father of Western monasticism', was probably the first to give a permanent place in the daily office to Compline, as the last office in the evening before retiring to rest. Late in the Middle Ages, Vespers (the preceding office also known as Evening Prayer or Evensong) moved to earlier in the day, and Compline was often said in the Church.