As mentioned before, the older girls and I try to pray Night Prayer before bed each night. Also known as Compline, this is the last “office” of the daily Liturgy of the Hours in the Catholic Church. Most commonly associated with monks and whatnot, the Liturgy of the Hours is one of the Church’s ways of fulfilling St. Paul’s mandate to pray without ceasing through regular Psalm-based prayer.
Tonight, we recorded it to share with y’all. With the novel coronavirus with churches closing and a lot of us Catholics turning to live streaming our communal prayer, the girls thought it would be a good idea to share how we do this.
To set the stage, we pray this together after they have dressed for bed, brushed their teeth, and whatnot. They’re in their beds lying down each with their own copy of Fr. Weber, OSB’s version of Compline which has both the English and Latin texts of the Liturgy of the Hours and the musical notation for it. I use my personal copy of the 4-volume set so on regular days, I can tell them about the saint for tomorrow before we begin our prayer.
If you want to try it without buying anything, there are some great resources. A helpful note: While the other parts of Liturgy of the Hours vary a lot over a four-week cycle and based on the saint of the day, Night Prayer is on a weekly cycle. Every Monday is the same as every other Monday with few exceptions. To make things even easier, you can use the psalm from Sunday every day so if teaching your kids to chant a different psalm each night seems like a big step, just learn Sunday’s to start. For Teresa, we started before she could read and she ended up being able to sing along with almost the entire week’s worth of psalms before she could follow along with the text.
Anyhow, how to get the office.
- Printable: eBreviary has PDF booklets for the next week’s worth of Night Prayer for free.
- Mobile Apps: Unversalis has a different translation for free on their website, but includes the U.S. version of the translation for those who purchase their desktop or mobile apps.
- Books: There are a few different ways to get it in printed form.
- Compline – This is what the girls use and includes musical notation. If you want a beautiful version that includes music, this is it. This is what I suggest for anyone starting off with Night Prayer and wanting to sing it.
- Liturgy of the Hours – This is the official 4-volume complete Liturgy. If you’re reading this post, this is likely overkill and should use one of the other options. 😃
- Christian Prayer – This was my first Liturgy of the Hours book. It is a 1-volume version of the Liturgy. It includes complete Morning Prayer, Evening Prayer, Daytime Prayer, and Night Prayer. One thing it has that the “complete” 4-volume set doesn’t is a hymnal. If you’re interested in starting a broader Liturgy of the Hours experience, this is a great choice. Since the text is the same, you can purchase one of these with copies of Compline and everyone has the same text.
- Shorter Christian Prayer – Like Christian Prayer above, but with only a one-week cycle. Great for travel.
- Night Prayer – Same publisher as the three books above, but only Night Prayer. To me, I suppose if a parish or retreat center wanted to provide books for the congregation for Night Prayer, this would be nice. I would go with Shorter Christian Prayer or the Compline book over this one.
You may notice from the video we didn’t sing a hymn. We’re supposed to; hymns are proper to the Liturgy of the Hours. But, I’m tone-deaf and have a really hard time singing songs I don’t know. When the girls were younger, it was a major win to do what we’re doing, so we haven’t.
The twins will soon be joining us for Night Prayer and they love singing. I’m planning on letting them lead us in singing one of the hymns they enjoy during that part of Night Prayer to ease them into it, since their nighttime prayer now is straight singing from the old parish hymnals they gave away when the parish bought new ones.
In short, the Liturgy of the Hours is a great way to pray as a domestic church and Night Prayer, especially, is a great way to include all the members of your family.