At 9:30 p.m. sharp, almost every evening of the school year, a loyal and ever-growing group of students crowd into CUW's diminutive Rogate chapel to engage in a traditional Compline worship service.
There is a chance you’ve walked down the chapel hallway during the break of the nocturnal hours and smelled sweet incense, heard distinct chanting, and seen a certain glowing light coming through the stained glass doors of the smaller, lesser known sanctuary right next to the Chapel of Christ Triumphant. For the uninitiated, these happenings may seem mysterious. But be in the know, the students gathering are there for Compline, a service rooted deeply in Lutheran tradition, and a worthwhile opportunity for all to reflect and worship, open to all Concordians.
Compline, or closing prayer, is perhaps one of the best ways to console in Christ before bedtime. Much like CUW’s popular daily Chapel services, it is an open, regularly scheduled service to hear the message of our salvation. Compline takes place every week night at 9:30 p.m., minus Wednesdays in which Evening Prayer is held at the same time in the neighboring main Chapel, led by Pastor Smith or Pastor Bender.
Compline is one of the Church’s daily prayer offices given at the end of the day, used by the Christian church since medieval times, that the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod has kept going over the many years. The worship service was formalized by St. Benedict, and uses Gregorian chanting as the basis for attendees to sing together. Fittingly, in 2015, a group of CUW pre-seminary studies students decided to bring the tradition to Concordia and make Compline a part of student life on campus. Ever since, students of theology have taken it into their own hands to lead the service, giving them a valuable opportunity to take an early initiative for guiding worship.
Now gaining experience as leaders of Compline, are sophmores David Christensen, Peter Ross, Will Ebel, Jacob Moede, and Josh Horst. The students lead on a rotating basis, taking turns each day to select the hymns and readings, and guide the service. Pastor Doug Bender and Pastor Steve Smith oversee the practice.
Students express that Compline is a deeply comforting way to end the day. It is unchanging in the message of our forgiveness and God’s assurance to look over us as we rest. To be able to have a place you know you can hear this every night at CUW is a gift. CUW theological languages and philosophy student Joey Diaz states that “It is edifying for the body of Christ to gather for worship together each night. Also, to use theologically rich hymns.” Typically, he says, evening hymns are chosen, or chosen to fit with the liturgical calendar.
Evan Parat, a CUW philosophy and theological languages student summarizes the service best. “The communal aspect of Compline is very important. Not only us joining as students, but being connected to the centuries of Christians before us. We are one holy catholic (i.e. universal) and apostolic Church.”
— Kai Goldenstein is a student writer and senior year Social Work major, minoring in German
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