Writing this for the parish magazine so might as well post it here too…
Be present, O merciful God, through the silent hours of this night, so that we who are wearied by the changes and chances of this fleeting world may repose upon thy eternal changelessness.
This prayer has been my favourite since the first time I read it as part of Compline – only a few years ago. It absolutely chimed with the problems I was facing then, and since a fair few of them haven’t gone away, I am still frequently seeking that calm repose. At the time, I could generally happily say Night Prayer, because I’m pleased to be at the end, but I struggled with the enthusiasm for a day to come as expressed in Morning Prayer.
The ‘changes and chances’ reminds us that the world isn’t under our control – that things don’t stay the same for ever, that life is unpredictable, life is not always fair and situations can change in a moment for the worse – or for the better. ‘This fleeting world’ gives an odd reassurance that we can expect these changes: things that trouble us deeply or allow us to rejoice fully last only but a short time. Although I can only live my life one day at a time, for God who sees a thousand years as a day, my brief 24-hour day will, however bad it’s been, fade quietly from prominence. For God is changeless – He does not weary, and He will, if I let him, grant me peace, rest, and renewal for tomorrow.