A little history
Though it probably predated it in some forms, Compline’s place in the daily worship of Christian communities in the West can be attributed to Saint Benedict, founder of the Benedictine monastery and father of Western monasticism, who first described Compline in his sixth century “Rule”. Benedict’s Compline closed the monastic day with a simple recitation of three psalms, silence, a hymn, short reading, prayer, and a blessing. Later, it was expanded with additional psalms, a confession and the Song of Simeon, found in St Luke’s Gospel, the “Nunc Dimittis”.
During the sixteenth century English Reformation, the daily round of prayer was reduced from eight daily services of prayer or “offices” to just two: Matins, and Evensong. Evensong, unchanged since 1549, unites the distinctive elements of two of these original eight offices into one service: Vespers (the Versicles and Magnificat) and Compline (the Responses and Nunc Dimittis).
Over the last century, there has been a rediscovery of the Office of Compline in Anglican traditions; its relative flexibility and atmosphere mean that it has become popular in a variety of settings.