The monks of Broadway

The Compline Choir

The Compline Choir

A few posts ago, I made mention of a Compline documentary film which was shown as part of the Compline celebration we attended at St. Mark’s Cathedral in Seattle. I’m happy to learn that the video has been posted to YouTube. The video is the result of a school assignment that Austin Rickel (son of the Episcopal bishop) was given — and for which he received an ‘A’ !

An archive photo of Compline, with Peter Hallock directing

An archive photo of Compline, with Peter Hallock directing

The local newspaper, the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, published a story yesterday called “Compline: An ancient service draws the young” which further details the attraction of young people to this last monastic office of the day. I highly recommend that you click the link to read the post. How is it that churches all over the world are trying to attract young people to their services, and Seattle’s Compline has done this Sunday after Sunday, year after year, for fifty-seven years? It is estimated that over five hundred people attend the Seattle service every week, and most of them are between the ages of 13 and 40. Since 1962, the service has been broadcast weekly on KING-FM, attracting thousands of listeners, and now that the program is available over the Internet, who knows how many people tune in? And Compline has spread to other parts of the country — there are over 50 Compline Choirs which have websites, and over 100 FaceBook groups have Compline in their name.

As Ken Peterson wrote in his book, Prayer as Night Falls, part of St. Mark’s success is its proximity to Broadway, an area of Seattle which he calls “a center of youth culture and hip fashion.” In the 70s, the Compline Choir was referred to as “The Monks of Broadway.” However, none of the men are monks, but sing the weekly service for their own musical and spiritual edification.

As Ken writes:

We come to Compline seeking many things — communion, forgiveness, strength, enlightenment — but perhaps most of all we come to find peace. In its most elemental form, peace is protection and safety from harm. But we also seek peace  from pain, anxiety, and from fears  of many kinds — such as failure or death. At the end of the day, we pray to let go of our cares, fold ourselves  under the wings of the Divine Presence, and enter into a quiet night.

Here is Psalm 139 by Peter Hallock which was mentioned several times the other night as a Compline favorite. Click here.

About Katherine Crosier

In addition to playing the organ I am interested in documenting life's special moments through journaling, scrapbooking, photography and slideshow production. My family just groans.
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