The English word Compline is derived from the Latin completorium, as Compline is the completion of the working day. The word was first used in this sense about the beginning of the 6th century by St. Benedict in his Rule.
Compline or Night Prayer, like Evensong, has its origins in the life of the early monasteries, probably as far back as the 6th century. It is a quiet, reflective service designed to lead the congregation into silence and contemplation at the end of the day.
Compline at St Nicolas' follows the Order for Night Prayer provided by the Church of England. Parts of the service are chanted, in monastic fashion, to ancient plainsong melodies. The hymns that are sung during Compline will vary from week to week and will sometimes be modern, but the service will usually include:
- a prayer of confession and an absolution
- a Psalm
- a reading from the Old Testament
- a reading from the New Testament
- a sermon