Vespers and Compline
Vespers is an evening prayer of the Divine Office. In Latin, vespers means evening. In the orthodox church, Vespers is the liturgical hour which kicks off all the hours. Genesis 1:5 is the rationale for doing so: “…and there was evening, and there was morning, the first day.”
Vespers is a time to reflect on the day that has passed and thank God for all that has happened. It is also a time of praise.
This is when the work day has ended and you are able to sit back and reflect on the ways in which God worked things out for you that day. Perhaps a meeting that you were dreading went well, or you finished your work early, or you finished anything at all. The day was busy with kids, coworkers, finances, and friends. You have a lot to be thankful for even when things don’t go aright.
The basic schedule in which monastics pray vespers is outlined below. I have purposely left out a few parts for simplicity:
Introductory verse: Anything that is full of praise.
Psalm 107:1 “Oh give thanks to the Lord, for the is good, for his steadfast love endures forever.”
Hymn: You could sing some worship song you like.
Gospel Canticle: a story from the gospels that will bring encouragement at the day’s end.
Intercession: Pray about issues that arose during the day.
Concluding prayer: think about the Lord’s prayer and how you live that out.
Like praying lauds, praising God for life at the beginning of the day and praying over your day before it begins, take time with vespers to think about those things you praised God about in the morning and the requests you asked of Him. Let this be a time of praise and thanksgiving.
Compline is the night prayer. The psalms that are chosen for reading at compline are those psalms that are full of confidence in the Lord.
Compline is such a special time. For those of us not living in a monastery, but living a monastic life, compline is similar to a child saying his prayers before he drifts off to sleep.
Psalm 90 and 91 are often thought of when thinking about compline. The monastic is thinking about God’s protection during the night during compline. You are thinking about how strong God is and how faithful He is to rescue you from harm. You’re thinking about His love and how while you are resting at night, you are snuggled up in his strong arms. You are, as the Shulamite says in Song of Songs 2:6 “His left hand cradles my head while his right hand holds me close. I am at rest in this love.”
Drift off to sleep thinking about how sure you are in God’s kindness and love and grace and romance. He adores you! He’s going to protect you! Nothing, absolutely nothing, will be able to separate you from His love.
I hope you’ve enjoyed Everyday Monasticism. I hope you’ll choose to live a modern monastic life full of hope in the freedom we have in Christ the Romancer.
Join me this summer for our Summer of Wisdom as we explore Proverbs.