Before the ending of the day
Creator of the world, we pray
That you, with steadfast love, would keep
Your watch around us while we sleep.
From evil dreams defend our sight,
From fears and terrors of the night;
Tread underfoot our deadly foe
That we no sinful thougt may know.
O Father, that we ask be done
Through Jesus Christ your only Son;
And Holy Spirit, by whose breath
Our souls are raised to life from death.
This is a prayer composed by Ambrose Bishop of Milan in 4th century. He was one of the leading Christians of his time. It reveals a deep trust in the protection of God the Creator not only during the darkness of night but also facing times of doubt and depression as well as our own mortality. It was translated by John Mason Neale who was an historian of the Eastern Church and renowned hymn –writer in the 1800s.
I first heard it in plainsong sung by the monks at Crawley Down Monastery. I was in the early years of my ministry and there on sabbatical.
Each evening we would gather for Night Prayer (Compline). The day had been spent in cooking, farming, printing, building and prayer. It was the final time of prayer.