Friday, August 20, 2010

Dormitionist Compline

Being in receipt of further liturgical details – one of their Completorii Libellus has fallen into my hands, beautifully put together, complete with chant – regarding the Dormitionists, I have updated a post about their rites that I made long ago, which I republish here for those who would otherwise miss these engrossing minutiæ.

A very significant and daily ritual, Compline (along with evening Low Mass, styled "Meditation Mass") is beloved of Dormitionists, since it proclaims in the gracious outward forms of the Liturgy what is their hope to incarnate in their lives: that the eternal rest promised to the Saints they shall have even now some share in, training themselves now in what one day, please God, shall be theirs forever.  

Their Compline basically follows the Roman Rite, or more closely the Dominican Rite, but with some variations.  The most striking are in their opening Confiteor and so forth, after the short reading (which is given in full at the end of these notes):
Confiteor Deo, et beatæ Mariæ, et omnibus sanctis, et vobis, fratres, quia peccavi nimis, cogitatione, locutione, opere et omissione, mea culpa: precor vos orare pro me.
Misereatur tui Deus, et dimittat tibi omnia peccata tua: liberet te ab omni malo, salvet, et confirmet in omni opere bono, et perducat te ad requiem æternam.  R.  Amen.
Confiteor Deo, et beatæ Mariæ, et omnibus sanctis, et tibi, pater, quia peccavi nimis, cogitatione, locutione, opere et omissione, mea culpa: precor te orare pro me.
Misereatur tui Deus, et dimittat tibi omnia peccata tua: liberet te ab omni malo, salvet, et confirmet in omni opere bono, et perducat te ad requiem æternam.  R.  Amen.
Requiem et gaudium cum pace, emendationem vitæ, spatium veræ pænitentiæ, gratiam et consolationem Sancti Spiritus, perseverantiam in bonis operibus, tribuat nobis omnipotens et misericors Dominus.  R.  Amen.
("I confess to God, and to blessed Mary, and to all the saints, and to you, brothers / thee, father, that I have sinned exceedingly, by thought, speech, deed and omission, through my fault: I pray you / thee pray for me.
("God have mercy upon you / thee, and forgive you / thee all your / thy sins, deliver you / thee from every evil, save, and confirm you / thee in every good work, and bring you / thee to rest eternal.  R/.  Amen.
("Rest and joy with peace, amendment of life, space for true penitence, the grace and consolation of the Holy Spirit, and perseverence in good works, the almighty and merciful Lord grant us.  R/. Amen.")
Instead of the expected prayer for everlasting life, these wise Canons pray for everlasting rest in the Misereatur, and have gone so far as to pray firstly for the same in place of the Indulgentiam of the Roman Rite.

For the psalms (which are every day the same - Pss 4, 30:1-6; 90; and 133 - as in the Roman Rite before the reforms of Pope St Pius X), there is instead of the normal Miserere mhi a different antiphon, also used as a versicle, In pace in idipsum dormiam et requiescam ("In peace in the selfsame I will sleep and I will rest"); in the Roman Rite, this was used as the first antiphon of Tenebræ for Holy Saturday.

On great feasts, the Dormitionists replace the usual responsory In manus tuas with the long responsory In pace, as do the Dominicans in Lent.

Most famously, their Nunc dimittis antiphon is proper to the O.Dorms:

Salva nos, Domine, custodi nos dormientes in Christo, ut requiescamus in pace.

("Save us, Lord, keep us, the sleepers-in-Christ, that we may rest in peace.")

There are intercessions, or preces, read daily – the monastic custom, recorded by St Benedict – that is, KyriePater, versicle In pace, Apostles' Creed, and the ancient versicle Dignare, Domine, nocte ista, sine peccato nos custodire ("Deign, O Lord, this night, to keep us without sin") before the salutation and the usual Collect Visita nos quæsumus.

Since Compline is thus unvarying, it is sung from memory in complete darkness, with only a single tall candle burning before the recumbent statue of Our Lady of the Dormition, the Virgen Dormida or Sleeping Virgin (to which all turn for the Marian anthem at the end).

As is fitting, they sing, not the usual Salve, but the old pre-Tridentine version of the Ave Regina – which was originally used in the Office of the Assumption, or rather the Dormition, of the Virgin.

As with the Dominicans, Compline ends with the versicle Fidelium: "May the souls of the faithful, through God's mercy, rest in peace.  Amen."

The brethren conclude Compline by processing back to their cells, reciting the De profundis (for while others look for daybreak, they look for rest in peace in the Lord), thus praying for those already departed this life in the faith and fear of Christ, that they rest in peace, and softly praying also for themselves with the Order's unique formula – Requiem æternam dona nobis, Domine.  Requiescamus in pace.  Amen.  (Eternal rest grant unto us, O Lord.  May we rest in peace.  Amen.) – then each singly blesses their chamber and bed with holy water, ere they retire.

To give a final flavour of Dormitionist spirituality (to use an overused and abused term), here is the extract from what St Anselm wrote in praise of St Stephen that is used in the Dormitionist Breviary before Compline (replacing the short reading at its beginning, again in line with the monastic custom of the Collation, or patristic reading at the end of the day, that St Benedict enjoined):

«Obdormivit in Domino».  O obdormivit! O somnus cum requie, requies cum securitate, securitas cum æternitate!  Requiescis, o felix, in gaudio, gaudes in requie.  Gloriaris, o secure, in satietate, satiaris in gloria.

O sufficiens beatitudo et beata sufficientia!  Quam felix obdormire, obdormire in Domino!  Quanta pace obdormiunt, qui obdormiunt in Domino!  Non enim gravabunt eos amplius pondera carnis, non eos affligent dolores corruptionis.

«Infelix ego homo, quis me liberabit de corpore mortis hujus?» — gratia Dei per Jesum Christum Dominum nostrum, ut quandoque «in pace in idipsum dormiam et requiescam» in Domino, qui vivit et regnat Deus per omnia sæcula sæculorum, amen.

('He fell asleep in the Lord.'  [Acts vii, 59.]  Ah, he fell asleep!  Sleep with rest, rest with security, security with eternity.  Happy man, to rest in joy, and in joy to rest.  Safe home, you are glorified in fulness and you are filled with glory.  [Cf. Ps 16:15b.]
(O sufficient blessedness and blessed sufficiency!  How happy to fall asleep, to fall asleep in the Lord.  In how much peace do they fall asleep who sleep in the Lord.  For the heavy weight of the flesh does not oppress them, nor do the sorrows of corruption afflict them.
(Who will free me from the body of this death? —the grace of God through Jesus Christ our Lord [Rom. vii, 24], so that some day in peace and the self-same I will be at rest and sleep [Ps 4:9] in the Lord, who lives and reigns, God, for all ages.  Amen.)

— S. Anselmus Cantuariensis, Orationes, XIII. Oratio ad sanctum Stephanum, ll. 240b-244, 269-275, 298-299, 305-308.

No comments: