Rorate Caeli

A New Printed Edition of Traditional Roman Compline (Latin/English)

Those who have sung traditional Compline may remember a blue booklet with tiny print, prepared by the Fraternity of St. Peter ages ago, and published by Saint Austin Press in England. The booklets have been out of print for so long that extant copies fetch exorbitant prices. Angelus Press has an edition of its own. Now we have another option as well. After a year of painstaking development, it is here at last.

Our friends at the blog Canticum Salomonis have just published Traditional Roman Compline, containing the entire office from the Antiphonale Romanum of 1912, fully notated musically, and accompanied throughout by an English translation. Not only are the antiphons, hymns, and responsories notated, but also the versicles and collects, all of which make things as limpid as possible for the beginner and as complete as possible for the expert (all the seasonal and proper festal melodies of the hymn Te lucis, as well as the special Offices said during the Holy Triduum and the Octave of Easter, are present; no other book will be needed for any day of the year).

The traditional Roman office of Compline, as codified by the 1568 breviary, had only a minimal amount of variation in the course of the liturgical year, apart from the special offices said during the Holy Triduum and the Easter Octave. Even in these proper offices, the psalms—4, 30 (verses 2–6), 90, 133—and the concluding canticle Nunc dimittis remained unchanged. Here we can see the perfect alignment of the Roman and Monastic uses. With its unvarying daily psalms, traditional Compline is therefore an excellent starting point for persons and communities who wish to begin to sing the hours of the Divine Office.

This beautiful edition, freshly typeset by Gerhard Eger, who also compiled the Benedictiones mensae published by Pax inter Spinas, includes ceremonial notes for the recitation of Compline in choir. Those unable to say Compline in church, however, can easily adapt these rubrics for their own circumstances. The booklet opens with a meditation, borrowed from a 15th-century English Brigittine prayer-book, on the spiritual significance of Compline.

I heartily recommend this booklet to all who wish to unite their voices with those of generations past in a liturgical conclusion to the day’s toils.

Traditional Roman Compline (based on Antiphonale Romanum of 1912, itself in direct continuity with the 1568 Breviarium Romanum), typeset by Gerhard Eger. Paperback, $12. Available from Amazon and affiliates.