This is a medieval night prayer, preserved in a fourteenth-century manuscript from East Anglia. Despite its simplicity it has a striking beauty, produced by the rhythmic effect of its calm, measured repetition: fram vices and couertises, fram sinnes and fram the fendes fondinges, and fram the sodayn deth... It's a style which reached its pinnacle in the elegant collects of the Book of Common Prayer. And there are some items of vocabulary which delight the ear, too: 'good-deed-doers' as a very literal Englishing of benefactors is perhaps my favourite, but I'm always pleased to see buxom in its original meaning of obedient.
Into thy hands. Lord, I commit into thy hands, and into the hands of thy saints, in this night my soul and my body, my brothers and my sisters, my friends, my relations, my family, my benefactors, and all Christian people: protect us, Lord, this night, by the merits and the prayers of the blessed maiden Mary, and of all saints, from vices and desires, from sins and from the fiend's temptations, and from sudden death, and the pains of hell. Illuminate my heart with the Holy Ghost, and with thy holy grace: and make me to be more obedient to thy commandments, and let me never more be parted from thee: Amen.
Two men preparing for bed, from an illustration at the beginning of prayers for Compline,
For more translations of hymns and prayers for the night, see also:
Te lucis ante terminum: Various Translations
Christe qui lux es et dies
'I dwell, laid up in Safety's nest'
'Hail, gladdening light'
Rerum, Deus, tenax vigor
This is a setting of the Compline responsory 'In manus tuas' by John Sheppard (c.1515-1558):