Thursday, May 8, 2014

Giving Attention to Psalmody

The common recitation of the Psalter united the Jews scattered throughout many lands in their synagogue worship and in the temple services in Jerusalem upon the great feasts.  The early church incorporated the Psalter bodily into its worship.  It became the first hymn book of the Christians.  The medievel church used large portions of the Psalter in its liturgical and musical enrichment of the Mass.  As it developed the hour services into a great system it arranged that the Psalter be recited in its entirety once a week, because it regarded the book of Psalms an inexhaustible mine of devotion.  Priests and monks soon came to know the Psalter by heart.  An early council at Toledo ordered that no one “should be promoted to any ecclesiastical dignity who does not perfectly know the whole Psalter,” and similar statements can be found in the Eastern churches.

Luther Reed, The Lutheran Liturgy 393

I do not advocate a requirement for memorizing the Psalter as in the quoted paragraph above, but there would be great gain by anyone involved with Sunday worship to thoroughly understand it, for the ethos of  worship is therein contained.  Much would be corrected if the same devotion to God was present on Sunday morning as was demonstrated by those ancient composers.

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