“Guide us waking, O Lord, and guard us sleeping”

Compline has always been to me the most gentle and consoling of the offices. I can never, however, escape the knowledge that, as they prepared to take him on the helicopter, I prayed with Mack our simple nightly prayer. “Now we lay you down to sleep and pray the Lord your soul to keep. His love guide you through the night and keep you safe til morning light.” I don’t know whether it was supremely fitting or sadly lacking. The Lord knows how we prayed for his health those last two days and all the way to the hospital. I know he is safe, better than that, “what is sown is perishable, what is raised is imperishable” (1 Cor. 1542ff), but I can’t help but wish he had awakened the next morning, strong, healthy, and with us.

When I first started saying Compline I used to imagine those in ancient and medieval times who truly did not have any great confidence that they would awake the next day. The mortality of children under the age of 10 was incredible and many was the parent whose child slept with Christ and awoke not in our own world. I have to remember that and know that this is the reality for still so many in the world today. I am blessed and remained blessed. “I shall go to him, but he will not return to me.”


Lord, hear our prayer.
And let our cry come unto you.

Let us pray.

Be present, O merciful God, and protect us through the hours of this night, so that we who are wearied by the changes and chances of this life may rest in your eternal changelessness; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.


O God, your unfailing providence sustains the world we live in and the life we live: Watch over those, both night and day, who work while others sleep, and grant that we may never forget that our common life depends upon each other’s toil; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

The Song of Simeon

Guide us waking, O Lord, and guard us sleeping; that awake we may watch with Christ, and asleep we may rest in peace.

Lord, you now have set your servant free *
to go in peace as you have promised;

For these eyes of mine have seen the Savior, *
whom you have prepared for all the world to see:

A Light to enlighten the nations, *
and the glory of your people Israel.

Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit: *
as it was in the beginning, is now, and will be for ever. Amen.

Guide us waking, O Lord, and guard us sleeping; that awake we may watch with Christ, and asleep we may rest in peace.


Let us bless the Lord.
Thanks be to God.

The almighty and merciful Lord, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, bless us and keep us.


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