Parishes of St Philips and All Saints Kew with St Luke’s Kew

Where all God’s children are Welcome

An Order for Night Prayer (Compline)

Ascension Day 2020


The ancient office of Compline derives its name from a Latin word meaning ‘completion’ (completorium). It is above all a service of quietness and reflection before rest at the end of the day. It is most effective when the ending is indeed an ending, without additions, conversation or noise. If there is an address, or business to be done, it should come first. If the service is in church, those present depart in silence; if at home, they go quietly to bed.


The Lord almighty grant us a quiet night and a perfect end. Amen.

Our help is in the name of the Lord who made heaven and earth.

A period of silence for reflection on the past day may follow.

We confess to God almighty,
the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit,
that we have sinned in thought, word and deed,
through our own grievous fault.
Wherefore we pray God to have mercy upon us.

Almighty God, have mercy upon us,
forgive us all our sins and deliver us from all evil,
confirm and strengthen us in all goodness,
and bring us to life everlasting;
through Jesus Christ our Lord.

O God, make speed to save us. O Lord, make haste to help us.

Glory to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit;
as it was in the beginning is now and shall be for ever. Amen.

Psalm 110

The Lord says to my lord:

“Sit at my right hand
    until I make your enemies
    a footstool for your feet.”

The Lord will extend your mighty scepter from Zion, saying,
    “Rule in the midst of your enemies!”
Your troops will be willing
    on your day of battle.
Arrayed in holy splendor,
    your young men will come to you
    like dew from the morning’s womb.

The Lord has sworn
    and will not change his mind:
“You are a priest forever,
    in the order of Melchizedek.”

The Lord is at your right hand;
    he will crush kings on the day of his wrath.
He will judge the nations, heaping up the dead
    and crushing the rulers of the whole earth.
He will drink from a brook along the way,
    and so he will lift his head high.

Glory to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit;
as it was in the beginning is now and shall be for ever. Amen.

Scripture Reading

Be sober, be vigilant, because your adversary the devil is prowling round like a roaring lion, seeking for someone to devour. Resist him, strong in the faith. 1 Peter 5.8,9

Hebrews 7: 23-end  

23 Now there have been many of those priests, since death prevented them from continuing in office; 24 but because Jesus lives forever, he has a permanent priesthood. 25 Therefore he is able to save completely those who come to God through him, because he always lives to intercede for them.  26 Such a high priest truly meets our need—one who is holy, blameless, pure, set apart from sinners, exalted above the heavens. 27 Unlike the other high priests, he does not need to offer sacrifices day after day, first for his own sins, and then for the sins of the people. He sacrificed for their sins once for all when he offered himself. 28 For the law appoints as high priests men in all their weakness; but the oath, which came after the law, appointed the Son, who has been made perfect forever.

Reflection for Thursday 21 May 2020

Today is Ascension Day, the day that Jesus ascended into heaven at the very end of his physical time on earth. This was clearly a traumatic time for the disciples. They had felt very much alone when Jesus had died at the hands of the Roman and Jewish authorities, but then he had risen from the dead and they had welcomed him back. But now he was well and truly gone, at least from their sight. Can you imagine the consternation, the confusion, the astonishment of that day?

Jesus knew who he was dealing with and we saw him preparing his disciples in the Gospel reading last Sunday from St John. Jesus talks about God giving them the Holy Spirit. In more modern versions the term “Advocate” or “Helper” is used, giving perhaps a clearer translation of the original meaning than the King James Version, which talks about a “Comforter”. When it came at Pentecost a few days later, the Holy Spirit was indeed a comfort to the early disciples, as it is today to all Christians. But I do not think it was meant in the terms of making people feel warm and cosy as such. In the Oxford English dictionary “comfort” has several meanings. The obvious ones of consolation and relief from affliction, but it also refers back to the Latin: “com” meaning having and “fortis” meaning strength. Advocate and Helper are quite clearly of assistance, comforter in this context means something that will support and strengthen them. The comforter was not a blanket, it was to enable them to take up a challenge! The baton of spreading Christianity had been passed to them, but they were not alone and they were told to expect this amazing assistance.

We all need support and strength; we all need comfort. At this time especially. Although the restrictions have been finessed a little, there are still many people confined to their own homes and worried about the possibility of contracting the virus. And many are worried about jobs or their children’s education and how the future will look. I am sure that many of us have been feeling a bit down recently – just show me someone who hasn’t! But prayer works and when I feel glum, a few minutes on my knees asking for help and strength does wonders for me. We have to keep faith and while we of course worry, it is fantastic to know that God understands our worries and will give us strength to carry on.

The most famous hymn for use at Ascensiontide is the magnificent “The Head that once was crowned with thorns is crowned with glory now”. But I want to go back a bit further to the perhaps less well known “O Christ, our joy, to whom is given”, which has its origins in the fifth century. The fourth verse is really quite wonderful:

Be thou our joy and strong defence, 

Who art our future recompense:                                                                                                                               

So shall the light that springs from thee  

Be ours through all eternity.

Richard Austen


Into thy hands, O Lord, I commend my spirit.
Into thy hands, O Lord, I commend my spirit.

For thou hast redeemed me, O Lord, thou God of truth.
I commend my spirit.

Glory to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit.
Into thy hands, O Lord, I commend my spirit.

Keep me as the apple of your eye.
Hide me under the shadow of your wings.

Gospel Canticle

The Nunc dimittis (The Song of Simeon) is said

1         Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace: according to thy word.

2        For mine eyes have seen: thy salvation;

3        Which thou hast prepared: before the face of all people;

4        To be a light to lighten the Gentiles: and to be the glory of thy people Israel.  Luke 2.29-32

Glory to the Father, and to the Son: and to the Holy Spirit;
as it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be
: world without end. Amen.

Prayers & Lord’s Prayer

Remember in your prayers:

  • Our families, friends and neighbours, colleagues and companions
  • Those who are bringing health and healing to the suffering
  • Those who are particularly vulnerable and frightened
  • Those preparing to re-open schools and nurseries
  • Those planning for the next stages in dealing with this Covid 19 crisis
  • Our Church family

Our Father, who art in heaven,

              hallowed be thy name;

              thy kingdom come;

              thy will be done;

              on earth as it is in heaven.

              Give us this day our daily bread.

              And forgive us our trespasses,

              as we forgive those who trespass against us.

              And lead us not into temptation;

              But deliver us from evil.

              For thine is the kingdom,

              the power and the glory,

              for ever and ever.      


The Collect

Visit this place, O Lord, we pray,
and drive far from it the snares of the enemy;
may your holy angels dwell with us and guard us in peace,
and may your blessing be always upon us;
through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.

The Conclusion

In peace we will lie down and sleep;
for you alone, Lord, make us dwell in safety.

Abide with us, Lord Jesus,
for the night is at hand and the day is now past.

As the night watch looks for the morning,
so do we look for you, O Christ.

The Lord bless us and watch over us;
the Lord make his face shine upon us and be gracious to us;
the Lord look kindly on us and give us peace.

Copyright acknowledgment (where not already indicated above):

Some material included in this service is copyright: ©  The Archbishops’ Council 2000

Nunc dimittis (Traditional) ©  The Crown/Cambridge University Press: The Book of Common Prayer (1662)