Seven times a day I will praise you for your righteous judgments. Psalm 119:164
It has long been the practice of Christianity to mark divisions of the day in terms of fixed prayer at regular intervals. There is a comforting rhythm to this daily prayer and it is particularly comforting in anxious times. This prayer rhythm actually stems from the Jewish practice of reciting prayers at set times of the day. Various names are used to identify the use of prayers throughout the day; Canonical hours, Liturgy of the Hours, and Divine Office, for example.
The hours most familiar in modern times are probably: Matins — Morning Prayer, pages 298-308 in Evangelical Lutheran Worship (ELW), Vespers — Prayer at Sunset, pages 309-319 in ELW, and Compline — Prayer at the End of the Day, pages 320 – 327 in ELW.
While attending seminary I felt fortunate to be able to attend these services on a regular basis. Once I graduated and took my first call, a dear friend and I would call each other at 9 o’clock each evening and we would recite Compline over the phone. One night she did the leader lines the next night I did them. It was a comforting way to end the day.
Consider some of the sentences prayed: Almighty God grant us a quiet night and peace at the last. The gospel canticle uses the Song of Simeon: Now, Lord let you servant go in peace….but it is preceded by these words…Guide us waking , O Lord, and guard us sleeping; that awake we may watch with Christ and asleep we may rest in peace.
One of the prayer options near the end is another favorite:
O Lord, support us all the day long of this troubled life, until the shadows lengthen and the evening comes and the busy world is hushed, the fever of life is over, and our work is done. Then, in your mercy, grant us a safe lodging, and a holy rest, and peace at the last, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
Sleep well faithful ones. When you awake may God’s presence give your joy.
The Rev. Ellen Meissgeier