guide us waking, O Lord…

So the interesting thing about our ECC Facebook group is that as one of the administrators I can actually see when there is more activity on our page than usual.  There’s a chart, and it shows me when there’s a big spike in hits on our page.  I think I’m probably glad that this kind of chart isn’t visible to me about my personal page, as I’d rather not know that information, but it’s pretty great to know when people are coming to “visit” the camp Facebook page.

I was checking out our charts the other day when I noticed a spike in our visits.  A big spike.  Curious about what might have been posted that sparked people’s attention, I scrolled down our wall until I came to the post that had caught people’s eye.  It was the status from the Episcopal Church that had been shared on our page, and the status was simply “Guide us waking, O Lord, and guard us sleeping.  That awake we may watch with Christ, and asleep we may rest in peace.”

These words from the Compline service in the prayer book would – of course – resonate with anyone from the ECC community, and with anyone who has spent time praying the beautiful prayers found in this short evening prayer service on page 127 of our Book of Common Prayer.  There is something about the service that is so special.  I came to know Compline through ECC, but I have continued using it in a variety of settings with a variety of people over the years.  Every time I am moved in the center of my being.  Every time I feel comfort.  Every time I feel the unshakeable presence of God.

I know I’m not the only one who feels this way about Compline.  The other day my mother was cleaning out her email inbox (which I give her a LOT of credit for) when she came across an email my younger sister had sent to the family over a year ago when she was applying for her doctorate in choral conducting.  She’s being kind of enough to let me share that email with you, so here it is:

Hi-

So today was a bit of a meltdown day.  I got the repertoire requirements for the UT audition. I am now aware of all the music I have to conduct and I am totally overwhlemed.  I am tense and tired and scared and I feel in over my head, even though when I talk it through I know I can do it and I am going to be okay, the rational thinking does not come easily.  

So I sat down tonight to get organized and start studying my scores for Texas.  The one I focused on tonight is the Nunc Dimittis from the Anglican Mass (circa 1610ish).  I started playing it and it made me so happy because all of the harmonies are the really Anglican/English choral sounds that I grew up singing at Trinity.  Then as I started singing the words, which I know are the Song of Simeon: Lord thou lettest now thy servant depart in peace…I knew it, but it felt familar- like I really KNEW it on a cellular level but it was old English… then it hit me- Compline: 

Guide us waking O Lord and guard us sleeping that awake we may watch with Christ and asleep we may rest in peace.

 Lord you now have set your servant free to go in peace as you have promised, for these eyes of mine to see the Savior whom you have prepared for all the world to see, a light to enlighten the Gentiles and the glory of your people Israel. Glory to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit as it was in the beginning is now and ever shall be world without end. Amen…

Guide us waking O Lord and guard us sleeping that awake we may watch with Christ and asleep we may rest in peace.

And I know I’m going to be fine.  I have been making music in a group of people for as long as I can remember, and it is spiritual and magical.  This piece is so great because each voice states the text- sometimes all together and sometime just a beat apart from each other, like in a congregation of people praying the same words at the same time, but they don’t always line up perfectly.  I don’t recognize that because I read in it some fancy book, I see and hear what’s happening musically because it’s a part of my experience and my faith.  Sure I understand the harmony and I can tell you about the development of English church music- but this music is timeless, it’s speech and prayer set to pitch- the music that I heard all those summer nights in the barn.

Thought I’d share.  Love and miss you all terribly.

 Kate

Like my sister, I’m thinking about what lies ahead, and I’m feeling a little overwhelmed.  Our counselors arrive on Tuesday and our summer at ECC begins, and I’m keenly aware that my life is about to change.  I’ll be stepping onto the emotional roller coaster that is living in community, and my heart will get bigger, and there will be challenges, and I’ll be completely exhausted and there will be abundant joy.  And I’m so excited for every minute of it but I’m also aware of the enormity of it all and the fact that I will be serving in a very different role than I have ever served.

But as I sit here writing this on this warm summer evening, with a breeze drifting in from outside, I can think of the prayers we will offer together every evening this summer in the barn.  I can remember that whatever each day at ECC holds – whatever adventure, laughter, heartache, and good, good fun occurs – each day will end with the peaceful prayers we offer to God and the soft sound of our voices joined in song.  And I know that I’m going to be fine.  We all are going to be just fine.

Keep watch, dear Lord, with those who work, or watch, or weep this night,                       and give your angels charge over those who sleep. Tend the sick, Lord Christ;                    give rest to the weary, bless the dying, soothe the suffering, pity the afflicted,                    shield the joyous; and all for your love’s sake. Amen.

3 thoughts on “guide us waking, O Lord…

  1. Thanks Meaghan! Beautiful post and a great reminder that all of us can go to the barn in our hearts and memories at any time. It is indeed a sacred space.

  2. Meaghan, I have complete confidence in you. I know that you are the perfect person for this job and that God has put you right where you belong. I am blessed that I will be there to see Him work through you!

  3. Hello Kate,
    I just thought I would leave you a quick message as I stumbled upon your blog. I am a old camper from ECC and I can say, it made an everlasting impression on my soul. The reason why you notice a spike is because others like me have are enveloped in the summer happenings and that old familiar warmth of days past has come back to visit. My time at ECC was empowering and so vivid are the sights and smells. The walk down to the lake, the stone altar in the back 40, even getting a shower (for the boys!) and it all comes back. It is funny how much we remember yet I can’t remember what I did last week. The business of being a child, I believe, is probably some of the most important work I’ve done for without it I wouldn’t be who I am today. Enjoy those kids and help them to have something to remember. It will have to last them the rest of their lives! May God continue to bless you in this most sacred of callings – tending his sheep.

    Ray Laurino
    Camper 88,93,94

Leave a Reply