Benedictines

Rule of Saint Benedict and Suffering Chapter 18 In what order psalms are sung

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    “At the beginning of the day hours this verse is always to be said: O God, come to my assistance; O Lord make haste to help me (Ps 70: 2) with the gloria, followed by the hymn proper to each hour. At Prime on Sunday, four parts of Psalm 119 are said. At the other hours, that is , Terace, Sext, and None, three parts of this psalm are said. At Prime on Monday three psalms are said: Psalms 1, 2, and 6; and so in the same way every day until Sunday, three psalms are said at Prime in consecutive order up to pslam 20. Psalms 9 and 17 are each divided into two glorias. And thus it shall be that Vigils on Sunday always begins with Pslam 21.

    At Terce Sext and None on Monday, the nine remaining parts of Psalm 119 are said, three parts at each hour. This psalm having thus been completed in two days – Sunday and Monday – the nine psalms from 120 through 128 are said on Tuesday at each of the hours of Terce, Sext, and None, three psalms per hour. These psalms are repeated at the same hours every day until Sunday. The arrangement of hymns, lessons, and versicles remains the same for these days. Thus Psalm 119 is always to begin on Sunday.

    Vespers is to be sung each day with four pslams bebining with Psalm 110 and ending with Psalm 147, omitting those of their number already set apart for other hours, namely, Psalms 118 to 128, Psalm 134 and Psalm 143. All the rest are to be said at vespers. And as this leaves three psalms too few, the aforementioned somewhat longer ones should be divided: namely, Psalms 139, 144, and 145. But because Psalms 117 is short, it should be joined to Psalm 116. The order of psalms for Vespers having been dealt with, the rest – that is the lesson, responsory, hymn, versicle and canticle – are arranged as above.

    At Compline the same psalms, that is 4, 91, and 134, are said each day.

    the order for psalmody at the day hours now being arranged, all the remaining psalms are to be equally distributed among the seven nocturnal Vigils by dividing the longer psalms into two, and assigning twelve to each night.

    Above all we recommend that if this arrangement of the psalms is displeasing to anyone, he should, if he thinks fit, arrange it otherwise;taking care especially that the whole psalter of 150 psalms is recited every week and always begins anew at Vigils of Sunday. For those monks show themselves lacking in devotion for their service who say less than the entire psalter in the course of a week with the usual canticles. For we read that our holy Fathers resolutely performed in a single day what we, lukewarm as we are, may achieve in a whole week”. These are the words of Chapter 18 Rule of Saint Benedict, In what Order the Psalms Are to Be Sung.

    The psalms are part of the Old Testament that give Christian faith its roots in history of God’s covenant with his beloved people. They are human and personal in revealing the relationship of God and man in reason, and emotion. They bring us into greater union with God. The way Saint Benedict originally designed the prayer of all 150 psalms in a week in a regular and predictable pattern established a natural rhythm in the psalms, that established quickly. This same rhythm comes in the todays use of 4 weeks, but does take more time in praying to establish. Another change is that the week starts on Vespers of anticipation for Sunday, (the Vespers, Compline said on Saturday to prepare for Sunday Vigil). There are very rare occasions when the Saturday Vespers and Compline are prayed.The way the Cistertians of the Strict Observance pray the psalms they are emotional, establish rhythms for us that bring us close to God.

    When suffering this emotional prayer of God’s covenant of love for people helps to heal us and clean us of the stain of sin. There is something about praying the psalms that is emotionally healing and gives strength to help people of the Church Militant. There is something that happens when praying the words that God gives us that opens us to what God knows we need to pray that heals and cleans us. It brings us to the poor souls of the Church Suffering in Purgatory allowing us to help them clean their souls of the stain of sin so they can move on to the Church Triumphant in Heaven. It is in praying these same psalms that Jesus prayed with his apostles that unites us in prayer and suffering. God bless us all.

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