Listers, the Liturgy of the Hours is a gift from Sacred Tradition that allows the Faithful to truly pray without ceasing. Though quite complex, this rich tradition is basically the Psalms adorned with hymns and other prayers. The Holy Mass and the Liturgy of the Hours are the only two public prayers of the Church. It is also interesting to note that under Canon Law, the Liturgy of the Hours is a requirement of all Roman Catholic priests and deacons. Though the Liturgy of the Hours has prayers for the entire day, the following list is a selection of Psalms from the prayers called Compline. Compline is “night prayer” and stems from the same Latin word as the word complete, because the prayers of Compline complete the day.
The following list highlights some of the more striking and thematic verses of the Compline psalms. Particularly after the Second Vatican Council, the psalms selected for compline thematically reflect the trust we have in God at the end of each day. We are going to sleep, and we pray that God may watch over us – even when we are surrounded by our enemies. The theme is perfectly captured by the antiphon: “Protect us, Lord, as we stay awake; watch over us as we sleep, that awake, we may keep watch with Christ, and asleep, rest in his peace.” May God grant all us of quiet night and a peaceful death.
Saturday Night (Sunday Vigil)
When I call, answer me, O God of Justice;
from anguish you released me;
have mercy and hear me!
O men, how long will your hearts be closed,
will you love what is futile and seek what is false?
“What can bring us happiness?” many say.
Let the light of your face shine on us, O Lord.
You have put into my heart a greater joy,
than they have from abundance of corn and new wine.1
It is he who will free you from the snare
of the fowler who seeks to destroy you;
he will conceal you with his pinions
and under his wings you will find refuge.
You will not fear the terror of the night
nor the arrow that flies by day
nor the plague that prowls in the darkness
nor the scourge that lays waste at noon
A thousand may fall at your side,
ten thousand fall at your right,
you, it will never approach
his faithfulness is buckler and shield.2
In the day of distress I will call
and surely you will reply.
Among the gods there is none like you, O Lord;
nor work to compare with yours.
The proud have risen against me;
ruthless men seek my life:
to you they pay no heed.
But you, God of mercy and compassion,
slow to anger, O Lord,
abounding in love and truth,
turn and take pity me.3
The enemy pursues my soul;
he has crushed my life to the ground;
he has made me dwell in darkness
like the dead, long forgotten
Therefore my Spirit fails;
my heart in numb within me.
Lord, make haste and answer;
for my spirit fails within me.
Do not hide your face
lest I become like those in the grave.4
My soul is waiting for the Lord,
I count on his word.
My soul is longing for the Lord
more than watchman count on daybreak
Let the watchman count on daybreak
and Israel on the Lord.
Because with the Lord there is mercy
and fullness of redemption,
Israel indeed he will redeem
from all its iniquity.5
He has put into my heart a marvelous love
for the faithful ones who dwell in his land.
Those who choose other gods increase their sorrows.
Never will I offer their offerings of blood.
Never will I take their name upon my lips.
O Lord, it you who are my portion and cup;
it is you yourself who are my prize.
The lot marked out for me is my delight:
welcome indeed the heritage that falls to me!6
For my soul is filled with evils;
my life is on the brink of the grave.
I am reckoned as one in the tomb:
I have reached the end of my strength,
like one alone among the dead;
like the slain lying in their graves;
like those you remember no more,
cut off, as they are, from your hand.
Wretched, close to death from my youth,
I have borne your trials; I am numb.
Your fury has swept down upon me;
your terrors have utterly destroyed me.
They surround me all the day like a flood,
they assail me all together.
Friend and neighbor you have taken away:
my one companion is darkness.
Protect us, Lord, as we stay awake; watch over us as we sleep, that awake, we may keep watch with Christ, and asleep, rest in his peace.
Hail, holy Queen, Mother of mercy, our life, our sweetness and our hope. To thee do we cry, poor banished children of Eve. To thee to we send up our sighs, mourning and weeping in this valley of tears. Turn, then, most gracious advocate, thine eyes of mercy toward us, and after this, our exile, show unto us the blessed fruit of thy womb, Jesus. O clement, O loving, O sweet Virgin Mary.
May almighty God grant us a quiet night and a peaceful death. Amen.
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