The choir of St. Thomas Episcopal Church will sing the service of Compline on Sunday, Aug. 15 at 7 p.m. in the sanctuary.

The service will provide a time of tranquility in the presence of God. The choir will sing the whole service. Please sit comfortably, or kneel at times if you prefer. The service will last about 30 minutes. Please leave quietly at the end.

Compline originated in the fourth century as the night prayers of monks and has been said or sung by Christians privately or in community all over the world for hundreds of years. Its purpose is to help us end our day in the presence of God, with our thoughts and imaginations focused on Him.

The form of the service has changed very little over the years; the only substantive additions to the service as laid down in the Rule of Benedict of Nursia are Psalm 31, the Lord’s Prayer, and the Nunc dimittis with its antiphon. The music is nearly as old as the office itself. The melodies heard in the service are identical to those used in the earliest days of European Christianity, and in the earliest stages of development of written Western music.

Within the service of Compline there is a substantial period of silence, lasting about five minutes. Possible ways of using the silence include:

Contemplation: Choose a simple word, like “God” or “love,” or a simple image like the cross on the altar or light, and rest quietly on it.

Meditation: Take a familiar story from scripture and allow it to develop in your imagination; setting the scene, hearing the words, and being part of the encounter. Ask what Jesus is saying to you. How are you answering?

Intercession: Hold up to God by name the people and situations that you care about. Give them over to God.

The service is open to all, free (no offering will be taken) and given as an offering to God and the community.

For more information call Jane Schroeder, minister of music, at 236-3680 or e-mail janeschroeder@roadrunner.com.

St. Thomas Episcopal Church is located at 33 Chestnut St. in Camden. All buildings are handicap accessible via the Wood Street entrance. The sanctuary is open every day from 6:30 a.m. to dusk or until after an evening service or program.