Compline at St. John's
A candlelit haven in the city of San Francisco, Compline at St. John’s is an inclusive evening service of music and prayer. Compline is sung by the voices of Endersnight, an a cappella vocal ensemble specializing in the performance of sacred polyphonic choral repertoire of the 14th-16th centuries. The event is held on the third Sunday of the month at 8:30 p.m. at the Episcopal Church of St. John the Evangelist, 1661 Fifteenth Street at Julian Avenue, San Francisco, located two blocks from the 16th St. BART station in the Mission District. Compline is free; all are welcome regardless of religious affiliation.
Compline at St. John's provides an important extension of spiritual outreach in the neighborhood for St. John’s and offer a sacred experience not widely available to Bay Area Christian communities today.
“The Anglican Office of Compline originates in the ancient monastic tradition of ending the day in prayer,” says Fr. Richard Smith, vicar of St. John’s. “In line with that tradition, we invite you to end your weekend with us at St. John's in tranquility in our candlelit, sacred space, surrounded by ancient and powerful chant and anthems.”
Compline, or Night Prayer, is the final service of the day in the monastic tradition of canonical hours. With its origins in the practice of bedtime prayer in the 4th century and before, Compline was subsequently enshrined in the Rule of St. Benedict in the West, and has had a long parallel development in the Catholic, Orthodox, Anglican and Lutheran traditions. Compline is a contemplative office that emphasizes spiritual peace and trust in God’s protection. In many monasteries it is the custom to begin the "Great Silence" after Compline, during which the whole community observes silence throughout the night until the morning service the next day.
Compline consists of the opening sentences, psalms and other Bible lessons, the canticle of Simeon (“Nunc Dimittis”), and prayers, including a benediction. As a public service of worship, like Morning Prayer, Compline may be led by a layperson. At St. John's, the full service—including readings and most prayers—is sung by the choir. In the Anglican tradition, Compline was originally merged with Vespers to form Evening Prayer (and subsequently Evensong), though an independent Compline has been reinstated in today’s Book of Common Prayer. Night Music at St. John’s pays homage to Anglican Evensong, favoring composed or polyphonic settings of responsories, evening hymn and the canticle, chanting the psalm to a harmonized Anglican tone rather than plainsong, and including a Vesper Prelude as well as anthems appropriate for evening or the church season.
About St. John's
Located around the corner from the busy Mission-16th Street-Valencia corridors in San Francisco's north Mission District, St. John's has been described by many as an oasis not only for the tranquility of its garden amidst the surrounding bustling streets, or the warm golden light that fills its soaring nave on a sunny day, but because so many have found St. John's to be a place of loving peace, healing, and renewal in an often all-toobroken world. The Episcopal Church of St. John the Evangelist is located at 1661 Fifteenth Street at Julian Avenue (main entrance on Julian), San Francisco, CA 94103.