You are here: Home About Keble Chapel and Choir Compline at Keble

Compline at Keble

The Service of Sung Compline offered every Thursday in Term at 9.00pm

Compline is sung by the Chapel Choir every Thursday during Full Term at 9:00pm
An organ recital precedes Compline at 8.30pm each week
Candles for Compline
On Thursday nights in Keble College Chapel, people gather to hear the singing of Compline, the final prayers of the day. The Compline rite is over a thousand years old. Its beginning in shrouded in history; How old is the urge to pray in the gathering darkness? How old is the fear of night, the fear that dark will not always be followed by day?

The early Christian Church established a daily cycle of prayer called the Hours. The eight Hours marked the day from dawn to fading light. The earliest formal description of Compline is found in St. Benedict's Rule. St. Benedict called the final hour of the day Compline, from the Latin complere : to complete. He described in fewer than thirty words the form Compline would take for the next thousand years. He wanted the prayer kept simple: Psalm, hymn, chapter, blessing, and dismissal. "After Compline," wrote St. Benedict, "no one may speak."

Altar with CandlesIn the early sixteenth century, the Reformation swept Europe, and the Anglican Church broke with Rome. King Henry VIII dissolved all the monasteries, where for hundreds of years monks had measured their days according to the Hours. The first Anglican Book of Common Prayer , published in 1549, collapsed the eight Hours into two: Matins in the morning, Evensong at sunset. Compline was subsumed into Evensong. It would not reappear in the Anglican Church as a separate office for another four hundred years.

The night prayer of Compline is practical again now in a way unforeseen during the Reformation. At Keble College, people use it not as part of a daily cycle of prayer, not as one of the monastic Hours, but as a point of calm in a hectic week, as a nightcap for the soul. Through music that is centuries old, it draws people of all beliefs, or of none, and it joins them to one another.

Silence greet those who enter Keble College Chapel on Thursday nights. Candles offer the only light. Shortly before nine o'clock , the Chapel bells ring. And then an unseen choir begins to sing...*

All are welcome.


*With thanks to the website of Christ Church, New Haven for much of this description.

Our Services in Term
(all services finish in time for dinner in Hall)

Sung Eucharist at 5.30pm with Keble College Chapel Choir

Morning Prayer at 8.15am

Eucharist at 12.15pm (Wednesday) and 6.30pm (Tuesday and Thursday)

Evensong with Keble College Chapel Choir at 6pm (Wednesday)

Evening Prayer at 6.30pm (Monday and Friday)

Sung Compline at 9.00pm (Thursdays only)