Monday, April 11, 2016

Sunday Week I Psalmody- Old Friends or Over-Used?

Over the years several readers of this blog, plus a few people in a group whom I sometimes meet for morning prayer, have commented that the Morning Prayer psalmody of Sunday week I gets kind of old after a while, especially if you find yourself having to use it several days in a row. For example, we use it daily for an entire week during the octaves of Christmas and Easter. Or you might have a few times every year when you've had it on a Sunday, and then during the same week have one or more feasts or solemnities, where  once again Sunday morning, week I is the default psalmody.

These people, some of whom are drawn to the Liturgy of the Hours partly due to the variety found in this prayer, tell me that Sunday Week I's frequency of use becomes a bit boring for them.

Do any of you find it to be so?  On Friday of the Easter Octave were you feeling ready to scream over yet another round of dew and rain, frost and chill, ice and snow, etc. bless the Lord?

Personally, I don't find the frequent repetition of Sunday week I psalmody to be a problem. For me, it's a plus.  First, simply as a matter of taste, I happen to really like both the psalms (63 and 149).  Psalm 63 in particular, when recited with  its Eucharistic imagery in mind, is always amazing.  And being a huge nature lover, who sits by a picture window overlooking some very pretty countryside when I pray, I don't often find the Canticle from Daniel to be that tedious either.

In addition, after several decades of using a breviary, I've finally learned this set by heart, and that is another plus. It is a pleasure to be able to take my eyes off the text and say them from memory.

However, I do understand having ups and downs in one's degree of attachment to, and enthusiasm for the never ending routine of the Liturgy of the Hours. So, what do you do when interested starts to flag?  My solution is to change it up a bit.

Just a few examples:

-fool around with chanting if you've never tried it before. Maybe just one psalm each time. I've written plenty of posts on resources for this before. Just check the archives.
- make a point of trying out the various senses of scriptural interpretation as you pray the psalms. Maybe one day just try to appreciate the literal sense (what the Jewish authors themselves were talking about). Another time, try the christological sense (how various verses could be seen as applying to Jesus, and then, to really set your heart on fire, imagine our Lord himself reciting these lines in the synagogue, knowing full well how they applied to him!)  Then, another day, look for the Moral sense: what is God trying to tell me about how I should walk the Christian path here and now?

-try to be more mindful that with liturgical prayer you are praying on behalf of the Church universal. Apply the verses of each psalm and canticle to the need, joys, and woes of the body of Christ on earth.

Okay, those are my ideas. Is there anything special you do when the Divine Office starts to lose its charm? Any tricks to revive your flagging attention span?  If so, post them in the comments below so that we can all benefit from your experience.






28 comments:

  1. I try to listen to the hymns on Youtube or on www.kpshaw.blogspot.cl/
    Or study a psalm with the book A school of prayer by John Brook, or sometimes with The Commentaries of John Paul II and Benedict XVI on the Psalms and Canticles of Lauds (Morning Prayer) and Vespers (Evening Prayer) from the Liturgy of the Hours
    http://members.wolfram.com/billw/psalter/jp2-b16-commentaries.html

    Of course you can never go wrong refreshing oneself with “The everyday Catholic’s guide to the Liturgy of the Hours” by you-know-who !!

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    1. LOL! The Everyday Catholic's Guide to the LOTH by Lord Voldemort.

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  2. I enjoy the Sunday Week I morning Psalms, particularly due to what you said above concerning memorization. The one thing that bothers me, though, occurs during Easter Week when using the "Christian Prayer" edition. Lots of flipping back and forth between the Easter Sunday antiphons and the Sunday Week 1 Psalms. Gets a tad annoying.

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    1. Yes, that's certainly a good reason for graduating from CP to the 4-volume if you can afford one. Even the way CP coudln't manage to print even the regular antiphons at the end of each psalm, thus often forcing one to flip back a page, is another annoying feature.

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  3. Frankly, I love Sunday, Week I. Yes, it can get repetitive, but they're so familiar that I can let myself go beyond the words and just feel the Psalms and Canticle.

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  4. DO you think this might change with the revison? Maybe cycle thru wks 1-4 or let it be an option to do so? (Although that means not everyone praying the same prayer).

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    1. I doubt it. Using the Sunday psalms on feast days is a very old tradition in the Liturgy.

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    2. I was thinking of the Sundays of weeks 1-4, but I think you're right that it will stay Sunday of Week I.

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    3. I don't think the revision would propose any changes to the structure, or to which psalms are used when. It's just new translations, probably eliminating the psalm prayers, and there will be some additional antiphons on Sundays (for Benedictus and Magnificat) that are already in the Roman Breviary but haven't yet made it into ours. And the Roman hymns will be added.

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  5. It used to be "worse" on the pre-V2 calendar, especially before the 1950s reforms. There were so many octaves around Pentecost that starting at Ascension, you basically used the Sunday psalms for five weeks.

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    1. Yes, I also understand that there were far more obligatory saint's days, so perhaps these, too used Sunday I?

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  7. We give glory to you, Lord, who raised up your cross to span the jaws of death like a bridge by which souls might pass from the region of the dead to the land of the living. We give glory to you who put on the body of a single mortal man and made it the source of life for every other mortal man. You are incontestably alive. Your murderers sowed your living body in the earth as farmers sow grain, but it sprang up and yielded an abundant harvest of men raised from the dead.
    Come then, my brothers and sisters, let us offer our Lord the great and all-embracing sacrifice of our love, pouring out our treasury of hymns and prayers before him who offered his cross in sacrifice to God for the enrichment of us all.


    Taken from Second Reading of OR Fri 15/04 - a sermon by Saint Ephrem

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  8. In other increasing variety news, Universalis now has a optional two year cycle at least for the scriptural part of the Office of Readings. I'm not sure when Martin rolled it out, perhaps you all had already spotted it but I for one am delighted.

    I don't know when he sleeps, he appears to be turning part of Universalis into Malayalam even now...

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  9. Hi Bob, yes I did see it, but I am not clear what the two year cycle means, unless it's an optional reading. I would be grateful if you could explain please, or maybe Daris could do so...

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    1. Hi Norman, Maybe this will answer your question

      http://www.ewtn.com/library/Liturgy/zlitur514.htm

      Some people are using a two year cycle for both scriptures & the non-scriptural reading

      https://www.dur.ac.uk/theology.religion/ccs/patristiclectionary/history/

      Some of the files at that site are missing. I found them here

      https://sites.google.com/site/companyofvoices2011/

      Hope this helps

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    4. Norman, if you have the one-volume "Christian Prayer" breviary, the references (chap. and verse) for the two year cycle are found on pages 2062-2073. This cycle is definitely approved for use in the Church worldwide, as it is from the Roman breviary. As to an additional cycle of second readings, there are different versions of this available, mostly in use by different monastic communities,as you can see from Mike's various links. Mike, I am so glad you are researching this any putting the resources on a blog. Excellent idea. Norman, if you want to shell out some big bucks for a hard copy of an alternate patristic lectionary, go to lulu.com and search for "The Divine Office: Two Year Lectoinary".

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    5. Mike, so are you more or less posting all the readings from the Pluscarden lectionary or are you mixing it up with others?

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  10. Pope emeritus Benedict xvi champion of the Liturgy, 89th birthday today!

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