Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Weekly Q&A

Welcome new blog followers Dorothy and Susan. Make yourselves at home.

It's weekly Q&A time and just as a reminder--there are no stupid questions.

Just a weekday in ordinary time, but isn't it wonderful, week after week, to pray with God's word and be daily reminded of dozens of truths? Just at random, today's lauds and vespers place these incredible thoughts and images into our minds and hearts:

In you is the source of life; in your light we see light.

For you spoke and they were made, you sent forth your word and they were created.

At all times bless the Lord God and ask him to make all your paths straight and to grant success to all your endeavors.

The Lord is my light and my help, whom should I fear?

There is one thing I ask of the Lord, for this I long,
to live in the house of the Lord all the days of my life,
to savor the sweetness of the Lord , to behold his temple.

He rescued us from the power of darkness!

Miles of commentary could be written on each of these lines--and have been.  At the same time, each verse is a diamond that needs no setting.  And we get to see/say/remember lots of  stuff like this every single day. Just one more reason why the Liturgy of the Hours is so amazing, and ought to become better known.

So, any questions?









23 comments:

  1. Daria, oh how I love Ordinary Time. It's my favourite time of the yearly cycle.

    Dorothy & Susan, welcome to Daria's blog. Feel free to ask a question or give a comment. Daria is quite knowledgeable and capable of answering questions regarding the Divine Office - Liturgy of the Hours - Loth. Other members of this blog are also experienced with Loth and are able to give sound feedback.


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  2. I am wondering if you sing the hymns that go with morning prayer? And, do you read the prayers out loud, or silently? And whatever choice you make, do you do it for some good spiritual reason, or is it more trivial, like whatever your preference is?

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    1. Those are three very good questions. You may sing or recite the hymn as you prefer. Some people disagree with me but I believe that the hymn is optional, especially when you are praying by yourself, and thus may be skipped altogether.
      Silent vs. out loud is another issue that is not spelled out in the General Instruction on the Liturgy of the Hours. Some writers insist that it must all be said if not "out loud" but at least moving your lips/whispering, just as a priest saying mass must do, even when he is saying mass alone. Others say no, that so long as you are taking care to say the words "inside your head" as opposed to scanning or speed reading the printed page. I've asked many priests about this, and they seem to be evenly divided. I've yet to find a statement about it in any church document. I'd be happy if any reader out there has light to shed upon this topic.
      You may use any legitimate option for any reason you like. The General Instruction repeatedly states that lay people are encouraged to adapt the Liturgy of the Hours to their unique situation in life. That would include things like time constraints, musical ability or lack thereof, or maybe just your personal quirks. For example, I personally don't care for most of the psalm prayers, since at this point in life I"m pretty good at seeing the Christian meaning of each psalm as I read it, so the psalm prayer is kind of redundant for me. So I make use of the option to skip the psalm prayers. There are also several methods of praying the intercessions, and I use the one I like better, just because I like it better.

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  3. Daria, it’s my understanding the psalm prayers are optional and will be excluded from the new revised American Loth. I really like the psalm prayers, not because they help me to see the Christian meaning in the psalms, but because they help me to express to God my daily experiences and feelings. Am I correct in thinking they are planning to delete them? If so, I truly will miss them.

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    1. It's funny, Alan, how people tend to have very strong feelings about the psalm prayers one way or the other. I used to use them a lot in the earlier years, but just don't tend to so much anymore, unless I catch myself not having paid much attention to the psalm while I prayed it, in which case I might read the psalm prayer as a way to refocus. What surprises me about you is that most people of a more traditional bent don't tend to like the psalm prayers, but you are an exception there. Although one very traditional reader on this blog has pointed out that quite a few of the psalm prayers are based on some ancient liturgical texts. I post about the psalm prayers about once a year. Here is the last time I mentioned them: http://dariasockey.blogspot.com/2013/04/divine-office-factoid-5-perenniel-psalm.html
      Last I heard, the bishops voted for the plan to remove the psalm prayers from the body of the psalter. I guess the goal is unity with the official Latin edition, which does not have them in the psalter. Whether they decide to put them in a supplement at the back of the book remains to be seen.

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    2. The position in which the psalm prayers are printed has always seemed very strange to me, and some books claim this is a mistake; maybe it was. But I've heard online audio recordings where the people pray it as printed: antiphon, psalm and Gloria Patri; then suddenly a prose prayer (the psalm-prayer), then the antiphon. Weird. I agree they should be optional, especially since those praying with the UK Divine Office books won't even have them in the book. The idea of psalm-prayers isn't so bad, and there are psalm-prayers in some Lutheran and Anglican offices as well, but in any case I think they should be an optional enrichment. They will always be one writer's take on the Christian meaning of the psalm.

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    3. My understanding is that the Psalm prayers will be removed. If the American edition follows the "Kenyan" edition those prayers will be gone.

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    4. What you mention Scott, "They will always be one writer's take on the Christian meaning of the psalm." is one reason they haven't worked for me, generally speaking. I tend to pray the psalm itself with one part of my brain and with another part think/say prayers for people, etc as they are prompted by the psalm itself.

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  4. Daria (or anyone else), I have a question about tonight's Evening Prayer. On iBrievery, Psalm 46, it appears that we're being prompted to cross ourselves after "He puts an end to wars over all the earth". Is that correct and, if so, why? Thanks much!

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    1. Marie, yours is a common misunderstanding. It's not a cross, it's a punctuation mark known as a dagger. Along with the asterisks that you see at the end of every other line, the dagger helps people who are praying together but are taking turns verse by verse, rather than by strophe (strophes are the bigger chunks separated by an empty line on the page). When any given verse takes up three rather than the usual two lines on a page, the dagger tells you to keep going for three lines to finish a verse before it's the turn of the other person or persons praying with you. I hope that makes sense. It would be nice if our breviaries explained this, but I don't think they do.

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    2. I wonder if their mission statement was to make Loth as complicated as possible. If so, they met their goal. I can't help but wonder if Jesus is as impressed with the whole thing as the doctors who put the thing together. Simplification would improve the Loth. Praying Scripture shouldn't be so difficult. God willing, those who work on the new Loth will take a hint from Pope Francis. Eventually, books and ribbons will be obsolete and everyone will be praying Loth online. I suppose each Divine Office website will have to hire a doctor of liturgy to ensure the daily postings are correct. Seems like the only solution.

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    3. I guess simplicity vs. richness/variety will always be a difficulty when it comes to liturgy. I'm glad I"m not the one charged with designing the mass, the office, and the liturgical calendar. But I think some better, clearer and more visually oriented instructions in front of the breviary would go a long way towards solving frustrations.

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  5. Ah, yes...thank you, Daria! I have seen daggers before, but tonight it looked just like a cross to me (I'll blame it on my aging eyes, lol). I didn't know their purpose, however, so am glad I made the mistake and learned something new! It was only by chance that I saw it as I usually use my print breviary. Thanks again!

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  6. In the Plainsong Psalters (A.K.A. Plain chant or Gregorian) the asterisks tell you when to go to the next part of the two part chant, and the daggers tell you to not jump into the second part just yet because it's a three line phrase instead of the usual two lines. As an Anglican I often chanted the Psalms with a Plainsong Psalter so these little symbols were old buddies when I became a Catholic. Even now I chant the LOTH to Plainsong.

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  7. Dear Marie,

    In addition to the answer already provided, there is another reason for the asterisks and the daggers.

    The asterisks and daggers and meant to facilitate the chanting
    according to the Gregorian tones. The syllables
    before the asterisk/dagger are stressed according to different rules
    and psalm tones. They appear in the UK editions of the breviary, but
    not the ICEL (US) editions. **

    However, they may also be used in recitation, in the same way as the mediaeval 'caesura' - a pause is made at an asterisk or a dagger (shorter) in order to help with the pacing of the psalm. Some people find this helpful and some do not as they believe the punctuation admirably fulfills the task.




    ** The UK edition also 'points' the psalms (i.e. puts accents over various words so you know where to go up or down on a tone) so that you can sing it to the tunes written by Fr. Gelineau for the Grail psalms. Unfortunately, given the different display capabilities of devices and the effort in pointing the text, we have not introduced this....yet.

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  8. My apologies, Russ, I think I was typing around the same time and duplicated a part of your answer.

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  9. That's OK; I also gave a lot of info that Daria had already given because I wasn't paying attention! Your post jogged my memory: I recall reciting the Psalms many years ago with a group of Anglican nuns and we all paused for a long time at the asterisks. It was not until many years later that I discovered that the asterisks were not originally intended to signal long pauses.

    BTW one reason I appreciate iBreviary is that the asterisks and daggers are included so I can catch the dagger sentences in time when I chant! That's a very helpful feature.

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    1. Really? Because many books and teachings I've seen say that the asterisk (or slash or bullet or whatever is used at midverse) signals the caesura. Maybe it's not so much signaling that specifically but marking where the verse is divided in the Hebrew binary poetry form, and it's become traditional to pause at that point. I'm an Episcopalian, and I lead our Wednesday Evening Prayer in church. I pause at the asterisk just a little longer than would be normal at a comma or period; some officiants on other days of the week tend to pause longer. But if you pause too long, people get uncomfortable and tentative, not wanting to be too early coming in with the rest of the verse.

      The caesura is often taught as a way to avoid rushing, keeping the recitation contemplative and prayerful. I've seen some materials from the (Episcopal) Order of Julian of Norwich that specify a four-second pause, which I think is a bit long. Composer Healey Willan, in his Canadian Psalter, Plainsong Edition, has the organist (who is playing a light accompaniment) enforce the pause by moving through a couple of passing chords. I have a recording of that here:
      https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/3051739/Ps111.mp3

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    2. I might be wrong about the original intention of the asterisk, but since the Sarum Psalm Tones are very old, I assume the asterisk for chanting was the original usage. I recall those long pauses and how uncomfortable I sometimes felt wondering who would break the silence!

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  10. FYI... the one volume Kenyan breviary has the same Psalm prayers as Christian Prayer.

    So a pause at the asterisk, and a shorter pause at the dagger? I have wanted to chant the LOTH in a small group setting for a long time. I have the Psalm tones from Conception Abbey for the revised Grail... but there has got to be an easier way! Any suggestions, anyone?

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  11. Jonny, my understanding is that you make only a brief pause at either the asterisk or the dagger. If chanting, the dagger tells you it is not time yet to change your chanting note, but instead to proceed to the end of the next line before doing so. I find the conception abbey psalm tones a pain to use, because they are based on alternating strophes, rather than alternating verses. As you know, a strophe can vary in length from three to six lines. Or occasionally only two, so it takes a long time before you can intuitively to the psalm tones with ease. That is why, on the occasionas I feel like chanting, I use the very simple, single verse pslam tones from the Mundelein psalter. You can find audio files of these here: http://www.usml.edu/the-liturgical-institute/special-projects/the-mundelein-psalter/mundelein-psalter-resource-page Another good source for all sorts of psalm tones from simple to complex is here: http://thewayofbeauty.org/psalm-tones-2/

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