DID YOU KNOW? Small & Great Compline April 18


Department of Religious Education (DRE)


April 18

Did you know when Compline is prayed?

Compline (which means “completion”) is the last liturgical service of the day and consists of various psalms, hymns, and prayers. It is part of the “Daily Cycle” (order) of liturgical services performed each day in the Orthodox Church — a tradition carried over from Biblical Judaism into Christianity of praying seven times a day.

In Greek, Compline is called Απόδειπνο (“Apodeipnon”) — which means “after supper” — because the service is celebrated after the dinner meal before going to bed.

There are two types of Compline services — “Small” and “Great.” Small Compline is a shorter (“small”) version of Great Compline. Small Compline can be said privately at home or publicly in church, and is offered each night except when Great Compline is celebrated.

Great Compline is prayed at church during certain times of the liturgical year: Tuesday and Thursday of Cheesefare Week, Monday through Thursday during Great Lent, and Monday and Tuesday of Holy Week. It is also celebrated Monday through Friday during the Nativity, Apostles’, and Dormition fasts, and eves of Nativity, Theophany, and Annunciation. Traditions vary.

Great Compline is composed of three sections, each beginning with the call to prayer, “Come, let us worship...” Section One includes the Creed and the Prayer of Saint Basil the Great. Section Two includes the Prayer of Manasseh, Troparia of Repentance, and the Prayer of Saint Mardarius. Section Three includes the Prayer of Saint Ephraim with prostrations, Supplicatory Prayers to the Theotokos and Jesus Christ. In some places (like monasteries), the service ends with prayers of mutual forgiveness, a litany, and the veneration of icons and relics.

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