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'''Compline''' is the final church service of the day in the daily liturgical cycle, prior to going to sleep. The English word ''Compline'' is derived from the Latin ''completorium'', as Compline is the completion of the working day. The word was first used in this sense about the beginning of the
[[6th century ]] by [[St. Benedict]] in his ''Rule'' (''Regula Benedicti''; hereafter, RB), in Chapters [http://www.ccel.org/ccel/benedict/rule2/files/rule2.html#ch16 16], [http://www.ccel.org/ccel/benedict/rule2/files/rule2.html#ch17 17], [http://www.ccel.org/ccel/benedict/rule2/files/rule2.html#ch18 18], and [http://www.ccel.org/ccel/benedict/rule2/files/rule2.html#ch42 42], and he even uses the verb ''complere'' to signify Compline: "''Omnes ergo in unum positi compleant''" ("All having assembled in one place, let them say Compline"); "''et exuentes a completorio''" ("and, after going out from Compline...") (RB, Chap. 42).
:''This section incorporates information from the Catholic Encyclopedia of 1917. References to [[psalms]] follow the numbering system of the [[Septuagint]].
The origin of Compline has given rise to considerable discussion among liturgists. In the past, general opinion (including Bäumer and Batiffol) ascribed the origin of this Hour to [[St. Benedict]], in the beginning of the
[[6th century ]]. But Father Pargoire and, later still, A. Vandepitte oppose this opinion and seek a more ancient origin for this Hour.
A text in Callinicus (between
[[447 ]] and [[450 ]]), first introduced in Father Pargoire's argument, informs us that between [[Vespers]] and the [[Midnight Office]] there was celebrated in the East a canonical Hour called in this text ''prothypnia'', because it preceded the first sleep, being nothing other than what the Greeks today call ''apodeipnon'', on account of the meal it follows. However, in the thirty-seventh question of his ''Great Asketikon'' (''Long Rules''), [[St. Basil|St. Basil the Great]], also, speaks of an intermediate Hour between Vespers and the [[Midnight Office]]. Father Pargoire therefore disputes the assertion that St. Benedict was the originator of Compline, being rather disposed to trace its source to St. Basil.
In the article mentioned above, Father Vandepitte confirms these conclusions; nevertheless he states, in the clearest terms, that it was not in Cæsarea in 375, but in his retreat in Pontus (358-362), that Basil established Compline, which Hour did not exist prior to his time, that is, until shortly after the middle of the 4th century. Dom Plaine also traced the source of Compline back to the 4th century, finding mention of it in a passage in [[Eusebius]] and in another in [[St. Ambrose]], and also in [[John Cassian]]. These passages have been critically examined, and Fathers Pargoire and Vandepitte have proved that before St. Basil's time the custom of reciting Compline was unknown.