We come to the last of the hours to be discussed: Compline.
84. Night prayer is the last prayer of the day, said before retiring, even if that is after midnight.
85. Night prayer begins like the other hours, with the verse, God, come to my assistance, the Glory to the Father, As it was in the beginning, and the Alleluia (omitted in Lent).
Unique to Night Prayer is the practice of examining one’s conscience:
86. It is a laudable practice to have next an examination of conscience; in a celebration in common this takes place in silence or as part of a penitential rite based on the formularies in the Roman Missal.
87. The appropriate hymn follows.
Night Prayer has the smallest number of choices of the psalms. People who wish to pray by memory may use the three Sunday psalms on weeknights:
88. After evening prayer I of Sunday the psalmody consists of Ps 4 and Ps 134; after evening prayer II of Sunday it consists of Ps 91.
On the other days psalms are chosen that are full of confidence in the Lord; it is permissible to use the Sunday psalms instead, especially for the convenience of those who may wish to pray night prayer from memory.
Compline includes a Gospel Canticle, as do Lauds and Vespers:
89. After the psalmody there is a reading, followed by the responsory, Into your hands. Then, as a climax to the whole hour, the Canticle of Simeon, Lord, now you let your servant go in peace follows, with its antiphon.
90. The concluding prayer then follows, as it appears in the psalter.
91. After the prayer the blessing, May the all-powerful Lord is used, even in private recitation.
The Marian antiphon makes for a musical conclusion, one of the very few times the Church actually calls for singing at the end of a liturgy:
92. Finally, one of the antiphons in honor of the Blessed Virgin Mary is said. In the Easter season this is always to be the Regina caeli. In addition to the antiphons given in The Liturgy of the Hours, others may be approved by the conferences of bishops. [See SC 38.]
Of the “minor” hours, Compline seems one of the most suited for home use. When I’m on retreat, it is probably my favorite among all the liturgical offerings at the monastery.