Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Revised Grail vs. Current Grail Psalms

So we're getting a new set of psalms in our breviary in   three years    five years   some time or another within the next decade.       But anyone interested in getting a look a the text of the Revised Grail Psalms only has to click here to check them out.    At first glance, they don't seem all that different. Often entire strophes are the same in both versions. But if you read through say, a dozen of them, comparing both versions,   a few things jump out at you, and these things appear (to me) to be improvements. I'll just mention just  one of them today.

Love has Become Mercy

Back in the late sixties and seventies, grouchy traditionalists such as my parents and their friends would  complain that "Love, Love, Love is all you ever hear about these days! Every song on the radio, every sermon at mass, it's nothing but love." 
 Now I'm certain that my parents had nothing against love, either of God or neighbor. Their complaint meant that love was, in their opinion, being cheapened by the incessant verbal harping on it. Also, I think they felt that we couldn't really understand or appreciate God's love if it was the only topic  that was every preached about. All the other divine attributes, all the doctrines of the faith that were neglected in the false spirit of Vatican II were precisely the things that helped us understand what an amazing thing the love of God really is.

Memories of this old complaint of  leaped   into my mind as I noticed  that psalms currently in our breviary use "love" in an awful lot of places where  the Revised Grail Psalms now substitutes  "mercy" or "merciful love".  

Give thanks to the Lord for he is good,
His mercy endures forever. (Ps.136)

O Lord you are good and forgiving,
full of mercy to all who call. (Ps 86)

O praise the Lord, all you nations;
acclaim him, all you peoples!
For his merciful love has prevailed over us;
and the Lord's faithfulness endures forever. (Psalm 117)

Besides being (as I'm told and have no reason to doubt) a more accurate translation of what appears in the original Hebrew and Greek septuagint texts, the word Mercy tells us more about God than the word Love. It tells us what kind of love is his: merciful love. Love that we don't deserve, but receive just the same. Mercy reminds us that we are miserable sinners, the wretches saved from hell  by amazing grace. Mercy reminds us of what Jesus reminded the world through St. Faustina.

Next time: Helper or Savior?



  1. Thank you for this post. It was very insightful regarding the word mercy and the info concerning the psalms. On a different note... would it be foolish to have both the Mundelin Psalter and the LOH? I find myself wanting the diversity of reading and chanting the Gregorian way as I am currently learning how to read the notes. Also... do you have a simple how-to blog on organizing the Liturgy of the Hours? I thought I saw you had a "how to" section or somthing. I may of been wrong. Thanks for the blogs!!

    1. Noah,What do you mean by "organizing" the Liturgy of the HOurs? I have basic information on how to say the prayers on the "breviary bootcamp" tab above. But I think you already know how to do this. Do you perhaps mean how to organize a group of people to pray together? Or do you maybe mean how to organize your day so that you can fit the hours into your schedule? Let me know what you need and I will try to help. Also, see my commments on the Mundelein Psalter below.

  2. I have the Mundelein psalter, and us it daily to sing the traditional Roman breviary hymns (assisted by their website audio files since my music reading skills are so-so). I have made a little "cheat card" of the Mundelein psalm tones in traditional (non-gregorian) notation, and refer to that when chanting the hours with my LOH breviary. So yes, if you love to experiment with chant, get the Mundelein by all means, if the expense does not take away from the needs of your family. If you scroll way down to the bottom of this page to my Amazon store you will see that right now there is a used copy of Mundelein for only $20.

  3. I'd like to inquire about the second reading in the Office of Readings on November 28. St. Macarius...is this Macarius of Egypt? Thank you.

    1. Maggie, I'm glad you asked a question even thought I neglected to label this post as a weekly Q&A.

      I think this is a different Macarius, since he is listed as St. Macarius, Bishop. The only St. Macarius I could find who was a bishop was St Macarius of Jerusalem. Macarius of Egypt does not appear to have been one.

    2. Macarius was a disciple of St. Anthony and one of the founders of Egyptian monasticism. A collection of fifty homilies have come down to us--but were in fact written in the region of Antioch.
      The above comes from a new book just released--Witness of the Saints: Patristic Readings in the Liturgy of the Hours. Received my copy on Monday---what a treasure. The author Milton Walsh gives us a brief history of the hours. Then provides a topical concordance following the schema of the Catechism of the Catholic Church. Each of the pillars of the catechism has listed the authors lists where in the LOH these readings are found. With the year of the faith this book is timely especially for those of us who love the office of readings.
      The book on amazon was only $19.97---what a treasure.

    3. Jim, thanks for this note. The breviary calls him a bishop and nothing in the New Advent bio sketch of Macarius of Egypt mentioned that. But I'll take the book you quote as the authority. I asked for review copy today and can't wait to receive it.

  4. Thank you both for the information. There seem to be a few Macarius's, and I really wanted to read more from the one in Office of Readings on the 28th. I was googling and also looking on Amazon. Here's another book of the 50 homilies that recently was published. Pseudo-Macarius is the author. It is all very confusing, but I'm determined to read more. I am loving the Liturgy of the Hours.

  5. Something worth noting here is that there is an option for the Sacrament of Reconciliation to be ended with the verse "Give thanks to the Lord for He is good" and the response "For His mercy endures forever." I was thrown off the first time I heard a priest start the phrase, because I didn't know it was an option. I thought he was just quoting the psalm, so I instinctively responded with the current Grail translation ("For His love endures forever). It wasn't until later, when I was looking up the full ritual for Confession, that I realized both that it is a part of the rite itself and that it doesn't follow the Grail.

    This could lead into two very long discussions: one on the hidden gem that is the revised individual celebration of the Sacrament of Penance (very rarely done in full), and, more pertinently, one on the rich possibilities that having a single vernacular psalter for the liturgy will open up for us. As I have far too many papers due in the next week and a half, I'll refrain from starting those conversations, but I hope to hear more thoughtful and prayerful voices than my own take them up.