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Monthly Compline Service Offers a Half Hour of Contemplative Music

(Photo courtesy St. John's Episcopal Church)

St. John's Episcopal Church, 515 E. Division Street, presents a "Sung Compline Service" the third Sunday of the month at 9:00pm. The next service is this Sunday Oct. 17.  "Compline [COM-plin]," or "Prayers at the End of the Day," according to Father David Kendrick, is "the last of the seven prayer services that are recited (every day) by monks and nuns, and have been for centuries--as long as there's been a Christian church.  The word 'compline' actually shares the same Latin root as 'complete,' so it's the last service of the day.  And so it provides kind of a completion for the day, to bring together all the things that have happened in your day and to let go of them and let God have them.  There's a Compline Service in the Episcopal Book of Common Prayer, and as you can imagine there's music that has been used for Compline for nearly 2000 years."  It's meant to be recited, or sung, in candlelight or near-darkness.

St. John's actually began holding monthly Compline services a year ago this month.  After a summer break they started up again in September.

The Compline service has seen a resurgence in recent years in urban centers around the country as a way of filling the gap between those who worship on Sunday and those who don't--and those who just like good music.  The modern resurgence seems to have started at St. Mark's Cathedral in Seattle, Washington, according to Father Kendrick. "They are able to do them every Sunday, and I would love to be able to do it every Sunday as a way for people to just end that Sunday and begin their new week in peace.  (The service) runs about a half hour.  There is no Communion--this is a service where you don't have to 'participate' per se. You can just come and listen and luxuriate in the beautiful music.

"We have a great choir--it's called the Compline Choir of Springfield.  It's made up of ten men, all volunteers.  Some of them are music students at MSU, and some are members of the Springfield Chamber Chorus. They have gotten together with our Music Director Kevin Grice, and this past month we actually premiered a whole new setting written by Katie Kring, a well-known composer here in Springfield. She's written a great musical about the 'lost cobras of Springfield.' But she is also drawn to this music, and she wrote a whole new setting that combines ancient chant and a little bit of jazz.

"You know," says Reverend Kendrick, "I think we're all looking for what T.S. Eliot called "a still point" in a chaotic world.  And I think Compline can be a way for people to find that still point."  The church sanctuary can seat up to 120, and Rev. Kendrick calls it a "very peaceful service with some beautiful music." For more information visit or call St.John's Episcopal Church at 869-6351.