An order for Night Prayer in traditional language

 Now in its 2nd print run!

This new edition of Compline has been published in association with the RSCM. Maintaining all the texts and music of the familiar edition edited by J. H. Arnold, this edition also contains the new traditional-language texts from Common Worship: Sunday Services (see editorial notes, below).

Typeset by The Art of Music, Compline is published in association with the Royal School of Church Music. See publications page for ordering details.

A modern-language version is also available from the RSCM.



The Lord almighty grant us a quiet night…
We confess to God almighty
O God, make speed to save us
Before the ending of the day (festal and ferial melodies)

The Word of God
Have mercy upon me, O God…
Psalms 4, 31 (1-6), 91, 134
Scripture reading (three alternatives)
Into thy hands, O Lord… (including version for Eastertide)
Keep me as the apple of an eye
Preserve us, O Lord…
Nunc dimittis

Lord have mercy upon us
Our Father…
Blessed art thou, Lord God of our fathers…
Wilt thou not turn again and quicken us
Collects (six alternatives)

The Conclusion
We will lay down in peace and take our rest

Editorial notes

The Plainsong and Medieval Music Society’s edition of Compline first appeared in 1929. It was edited, though without attribution, by J. H. Arnold. The publication was controversial: it used a form of service that was not authorized for use in the Church of England, but which followed the order of the rejected Book of Common Prayer, 1928. At the time the Society was threatened with legal action by the Church Commissioners for allegedly breaching Crown copyright. In the event, J. H. Arnold’s plainsong setting of Compline in English has become firmly fixed in the Anglican tradition, and remains the best loved and most valued of the sung office services based on medieval chant. Part of its attraction is the stability of form, text and chant.

This new edition is uncontroversial: it is published at the request of the Liturgical Commission of the Church of England. The text is that of Night Prayer (Compline) in Traditional Language published in Common Worship: Services and Prayers for the Church of England. This follows the order of the contemporary language Common Worship service, but includes all of the 1928 texts. There are three minor additions: the psalm antiphon has been retained from Arnold’s edition for optional use, together with the ‘Amen’ at the end of the hymn; and there is an additional collect for use on Sundays and in Eastertide (which uses the original text of that provided in Common Worship: Daily Prayer).

The musical text is that of J. H. Arnold’s original edition. There are some additions: the ferial hymn melody, the Eastertide responsory (based on the Roman melody), and chants for the additional versicles and responses. The pointing of the psalms is almost unchanged, though the presentation of that pointing is simplified. Rubrics from the Common Worship text are in red italic; additional rubrics are in black italic. Dialogue between the minister and the people is distinguished by the use of normal and bold type.

Neither the psalms nor the Gospel canticle are printed in bold. The verses may be sung in alternation (cantor(s) then people), or antiphonally side by side. In the psalmody, the intonation is sung only at the beginning of the first verse of each psalm; the first half of this verse may be sung by the cantor(s). In other places, a sign (†) indicates the opening sung by the cantor(s).


The Plainsong and Medieval Music Society
Faculty of Music, University of Oxford
United Kingdom, OX1 1DB
Registered charity 297147