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Compline brings choral music to MemChu

On Sunday evenings, the Stanford community gets an opportunity to reflect through Compline, a program featuring chanting and meditation at a candlelit Memorial Church. (VERONICA CRUZ/The Stanford Daily)

On Sunday evenings, the Stanford community gets an opportunity to reflect through Compline, a program featuring chanting and meditation at a candlelit Memorial Church.
(VERONICA CRUZ/The Stanford Daily)

At 9 p.m. on Sunday evenings, the Stanford community gets an opportunity to reflect through Compline, 30 minutes of chanting and meditation at a candlelit Memorial Church. Run by the Office of Religious Life, Compline brings a different choir to the church each week. Oct. 12 marked the first service of the 2014-15 school year.

A large audience of community members watched a performance by a choir from Palo Alto High School on Sunday. Michael Najar, a high school teacher in the visual and performing arts, conducted the choir and described Memorial Church as “an imaginative space.”

“It’s been an absolute joy that we have been able to come here,” Najar said. “It’s made for the type of music that we want to sing.”

Palo Alto residents Jennifer Garcia and Elizabeth Mothart described the experience as “beautiful.”

“The music filled the space very well,” Mothart said.

According to Sanders, Compline aims to provide a tranquil refuge for all students on Stanford’s campus. Originating in the monastic tradition, Compline has found its way out of the cloisters of monasteries and into cities and college campuses.

Reverend Joanne Sanders, associate dean for religious life, sought to bring Compline to Stanford shortly after her arrival on campus in 2000. Sanders recalled that when she first visited Memorial Church, she thought it would be “a beautiful space for Compline.”

Fourteen years later, Compline has become a Stanford tradition that welcomes those of all faiths. Sanders explained her hopes that anyone can appreciate the service.

“We hoped that…[Compline] would be accessible enough simply by the fact that there is something very meditative about sitting in a quiet, sacred place and having this ancient monastic service,” Sanders said.

William Mahrt Ph.D. ’69, associate professor of musicology and director of Stanford’s Early Music Singers, worked with Sanders to start Compline at Stanford. Mahrt believes that Compline also contributes to the intellectual life of the university and that, regardless of students’ religion or academic discipline, access to the early music sung at the services enriches their education.

“This is our history – this is making alive things that are a part of the history you are studying as students,” Mahrt said.

Both Sanders and Mahrt hope that more students discover Compline at Stanford. Those interested in learning more can find information at the website for the Office for Religious Life.

 

Contact Michael Gioia at mgioia2 ‘at’ stanford.edu.

About Michael Gioia

Michael Gioia is currently the Managing Editor of Opinions at The Daily; he has also previously led the News division. He is from Plano, Texas and studies History and Modern Languages at Stanford. When Michael is not working for The Daily, he can generally be found reading or drinking coffee.