The Compline Choir is a unique community of laypersons with diverse beliefs that seeks to express musically a concern for the nurture and care of the soul—spiritual nourishment.
The mission of the Compline Choir is to:
- perform and record liturgical and religious music for men’s voices for the edification and enjoyment of listeners;
- to promote and perpetuate ancient, traditional, and contemporary musical forms of worship; and,
- to minister to the spiritual needs of the community.
The Office of Compline at Saint Mark’s Episcopal Cathedral in Seattle has its origins in the crypt of Canterbury Cathedral, where Peter Hallock, a Royal School of Church Music student from 1949 to 1951, and fellow classmates chanted Compline. At Hallock’s invitation, 12 music students from the University of Washington gathered at Saint Mark’s to study and sing plainsong. By late 1956, this group became the Compline Choir and began singing the Office of Compline for others on Sunday nights.
Compline has developed a lasting popularity of almost mythical proportions, unlike any other worship event in the Pacific Northwest. The service continues to attract a diverse congregation upwards of 300 people, who come to sit in the quiet and dimly lit nave, to listen to words and music, and to be renewed and comforted by this ancient liturgical office. Classical KING-FM 98.1 estimates that 10,000 or more listen to weekly radio or internet broadcasts.
The reasons behind the success and popularity of Compline are difficult to pinpoint. The choir sang to an empty church at first. However, a congregation blossomed in the 1960s—during the age of the flower children—when Eastern religions began influencing Western thought, particularly in the Pacific Northwest.
“Compline occurs in space—not just the acoustical space of the cathedral, but also the psychological space opened for us in darkness and night. Those gathered at the cathedral and listening to the radio or online broadcasts form a congregation engaged in a mystical experience that helps facilitate a journey towards the Divine.”
–Jason A. Anderson
II Director of the Compline Choir
“Silence and time for interior reflection are often identified as the most powerful and moving characteristics of the Compline service. With its ministry directed toward spiritual values that nurture the soul, I see us engaged in a radical activity to act contrary to the icons of contemporary society—money, power, material comfort. These values cannot sustain or nourish the soul.”
–Peter R. Hallock
I Director of the Compline Choir