studies
2014.11.05 04:33

From the complete Psalter to the easier Psalter. An insight into the dynamics of the liturgical reforms in the 20th century at the example of praying the Psalms.

The Psalms are an indispensable part of the prayer of the Church and the basic substance of everyday non-Eucharistic liturgical prayer, the core of so called “Hours” of the Divine Office. They constitute the oldest layer of the liturgy – also because only in their case we can state with certainty that they were part of Jesus’ personal prayer in His earthly life. Their composition in the Book of Psalms is a reminder of the order of liturgy of the First Covenant – which in precisely this respect was treated as own heritage by the first Christians and the ancient Church.    

From its very beginning, the Church regarded the Psalms as privileged and irreplaceable way of fulfilling the command to “pray ceaselessly”, obeyed either almost literally e.g. by the Desert Fathers, or at least through appointment of fixed, recurring times of day and night prayer. For many centuries the Psalms – ordered in the books of the Divine Service and recited in times that determined the daily rhythm of the whole Christian world – constituted the main point of reference for prayer of all the faithful, both the clergy and the laymen. In the popular piety, however, they were obscured in the course of time by the “equivalents” of Ave Maria and Pater Noster or even substituted with the whole variety of private devotions and spiritual exercises, remaining – as the breviary – the daily bread only for the clergymen and the monks.    

Hence in the modern age the breviary became „the priests’ prayer” and the picture of a clergyman saying his breviary – of course in Latin, but more and more often privately, somewhere in the outside, e.g. in the garden – entered the collective imagination of the Christian societies as one of the attributes of this specific vocation. Moreover, though the laymen were rather reluctant to make use of the breviary, they were nevertheless aware of the fact that in a way it provided the clergymen with spiritual vigour.  No wonder that the misbehaving priests were mockingly described as those “who deny themselves neither the cognac, nor the breviary”. Hence, the breviary was regarded both as the clergymen’s privilege and their duty.

If we are to follow here the trace of modern reforms of the Roman Breviary – or, strictly speaking, of it’s core, that is the Psalter – in the beginning let’s pose the question: what kind of breviary was used by the Catholic priests of the Roman rite at the turn of the 19th and the 20th centuries? Well, this question is easy to answer: it must have been the Roman Breviary, codified in 1568 by St. Pius V, compatible with the last typical edition issued in 1631 by Urban VIII and renewed by Leo XIII[1].

In fact, this “Tridentine” breviary was much older than this general description seems to suggest. For as in the case of the Roman Missal of 1570, the post-Tridentine reform basically had only expanded on the whole Church the rules of the prayer that for centuries had been established within the local Church of the papal Rome.  The backbone of the breviary of St. Pius V – that is, it’s psalmody – was hardly any different from the oldest forms of the Roman Office we know from the 5th and the 6th centuries.

In accordance with a long tradition, having no alternative within the Roman rite, the Psalter was distributed over one week, though some Psalms recurred downright daily. St. Pius V wished this basic scheme of the weekly psalmody to constitute the main content of the Divine Service, therefore he made – on the one hand – the votive offices (like the Little Office of the Blessed Virgin Mary) non-compulsory, and - on the other hand – he severely limited the celebrations of the saints.

The priest reciting the Roman Breviary in the end of the 19th or in the very beginning of the 20t century used precisely such a „Tridentine” liturgical book, based on the Psalter of two saint popes: Gregory the Great and Pius V. However, paradoxically, it is not so easy to determine how his breviary prayer actually looked like. For in the course of the centuries that elapsed from 1568 to the end of the belle époque a number of factors appeared which made the practice of saying the breviary highly complicated.

In the first place, these were the factors related to an increasing number of commemorations of saints within the liturgical calendar, and then – with further and further subordination of the current office to those commemorations, usually marked with one of the schemes from the Commune Sanctorum. In case of psalmody it meant in fact substituting the complete Psalter with much narrower choice of festive Psalms.

At the end of the 19th century this rather unplanned and uncontrolled domination of the Sanctorale – related after all to the constant accumulation of various feasts – was accompanied by yet another move which deeply changed the very logic of the Office: willing to avoid overburdening of the clergy with the breviary prayer, in 1883 pope Leo XIII granted a general indult, according to which almost throughout the whole liturgical year it was allowed to substitute the current office with the votive offices foreseen for subsequent ferias (Monday: of the Holy Angels, Tuesday: of the Holy Apostles, Wednesday: of St. Joseph, Thursday: of the Blessed Sacrament, Friday: of the Lord’s Passion, Saturday: of the Immaculate Conception)[2].

Taking into consideration the complexity of the system of feasts of that time, it is understandable that the possibility of saying throughout the week simply subsequent votive offices, characterized by clear devotional “motives”, was a tempting solution due to its simplicity or rememberable ordering. But in the same time both these factors (i.e. domination of the Sanctorale and substitution of the current office with the votive offices) led to continuous repetition of the Sunday psalmody in Lauds and to very frequent repetition of various Sunday Psalms in Vespers. Hence, only a little portion of the Psalter was actually used; moreover, most of the Psalms appeared very rarely, while limited set of around ten Psalms was in constant use.

And yet the breviary Psalter as such had not been so far narrowed down – in theory it still comprised 150 Psalms, distributed over the course of one week.

Besides, the problem was not only in actual limitation of  the number of Psalms. Another difficulty was related to the fact that – both in case of domination of the Sanctorale and of constant use of the votive offices – some “objective” order of the Psalter, basically sustained within the weekly office, gave place to various “subjective” configurations. Shortly speaking, instead of reciting the Psalms according to their sequence in the Psalter, without selecting them to fit some particular motives and moods, they were most often recited precisely in such a selection and sequence that was related to some specific motives or attitudes.

 

Most unusual reorganization: „a new arrangement of the Psalter” of 1911

 

Such were the challenges faced by St. Pius X, who became a pope in 1903. Convinced of the necessity to arouse and shape the piety through the liturgy of the Church, he started to bring out basic structures of the liturgical heritage, sometimes completely obscured by later additions. Two motives were closely intertwined in this work: return to the primacy of seasons and Sundays within the liturgical year and restoration of the practice of saying the complete Psalter within a week. Here we will discuss this second issue.

In the apostolic constitution Divino afflatu[3]of 1st November 1911, St. Pius X reminds of the ancient law that obliges the clergy to recite the whole Psalter within a week. The pope states that it is his intention to restore this practice in such a way that, on the one hand, would not cause any diminution in the cultus of saints, and on the other – would make the burden of the Office not more oppressive, but actually lighter for the clergy. Having both these issues in mind, the pope had appointed the commission consisting „of learned and active men”, who prepared „a new arrangement of the Psalter”.

As a consequence, the Holy Father decided to „abolish the order of the Psalter as it is at present in the Roman Breviary” and to „absolutely forbid the use of it” after 1st January 1913. Commanding to use the “new arrangement of the Psalter” from now on, the pope proclaims that those who disobey this order will be punished. He concludes: 

all such are to know that they will not be satisfying this grave duty [of reciting the canonical hours everyday] unless they use this our disposition of the psaltery.

In practice the severity of this regulation was eased by the indults, which allowed to use „the old arrangement of the Psalter” in private recitation.

Obviously, this „new arrangement of the Psalter” radically broke off with the ordering of the psalmody as it had been within the Roman Breviary of St. Pius V.   Although continuity was preserved for example in case of Vespers, the order of this breviary Psalter was actually new. Moreover, it was a novelty also in comparison to the older, pre-Tridentine offices of the Roman rite. Nowhere in the history of the Roman psalmody – even reaching to its oldest versions we know, coming from the 5th and the 6th centuries – can we find the basis and the antecedents for the Psalter of 1911; in the same time, there exists a clear continuity between those ancient forms and the Breviary of 1568.

Hence we are safe to say that the number of Psalms in Lauds of Sundays or ferial days had never been lower than 12; that usually the morning office had comprised 8 Psalms, including three Laudate Psalms[4] and Psalm 50 (the latter from the 6th century had been recited almost daily); that parts of Psalm 118 had dominated Prime and other Minor Hours throughout the whole week; that from the very beginning Compline had included three defined Psalms (4, 90 and 133), used throughout the whole week. All these points have been truly modified by the Psalter of 1911 – the solutions it proposed more or less radically abandoned own tradition of the Roman office. 

This fairly controversial move was made because the clergy of that time felt  somewhat “overburdened” by the Office. The attempt was therefore made to reduce this burden by proposing a well-balanced Psalter, based on the principle that each Psalm should be recited generally no more than once a week[5]. Hence, the reform of the breviary introduced by St. Pius X can be regarded as an adjustment of the Office to the longing for change, a result of the struggle with the weariness.

It is worth to recall the words by a distinguished expert in history of the Divine Service, fr. Robert Taft S.J., who summarized these changes in a following way: “For anyone with a sense of the history of the Office, this was a shocking departure from almost universal Christian Tradition”[6].

 


The Psalter of the professors: “a new Latin translation of the Psalms” of 1945

 

Over thirty years after the introduction of “a new arrangement of the Psalter” by St. Pius X, another pope, Pius XII, introduced a new Latin translation of Psalms into liturgical usage.

In his motu proprio In cotidianis precibus of 25th March 1945[7], the pope firstly speaks (rather guardedly) of inaccuracies and deficits of the Vulgate translations of the Psalms – reading between the lines of the document, we may say that the pope considers them increasingly annoying, especially when compared to the new translations which are based on original texts and take advantage of progress in the knowledge of ancient languages, as well as of modern methods of textual criticism. The pope is aware that the Vulgate Psalter is deeply rooted within Christian tradition and that it had affected the way the Holy Fathers and Doctors had commented the Psalms. Nevertheless, expectations of the priests („a good many” of them), as well as demands of the learned men, bishops and cardinals convinced the Holy Father to give an order that “a new Latin translation of the Psalms” is prepared. On the one hand, it was to follow the original text precisely and faithfully; on the other, as far as it was possible, it had to take into account “the venerable Vulgate”, as well as other ancient translations, referring to “sound critical norms” whenever there would be differences between them.

The document then states that the new version has already been completed, “with the diligence befitting such a task”,  by the professors of the Pontifical Biblical Institute. Hence the pope offers it “to all who have the obligation to recite the canonical Hours daily” and permits them “to use it, should they wish to do so, in either private or public recitation”.

As it is indicated a few times in the document, the main aim of the whole undertaking was to enable those praying with the new Psalter to grasp more fully what is said in the Holy Book. The pope emphasizes that he is driven by pastoral concerns: he wishes the Psalms to be recited „not only with sincere devotion but with fuller understanding as well”.

Still, in the document itself there is a supposition that „there are times when, even after every help that text criticism and a knowledge of languages can offer has been exhausted, the meaning of the words is still not perfectly clear”. In such cases „their more definite clarification will have to be left to future study.”

This papal regulation led to an unheard-of situation: from now on, the translation recommended by Pius XII was to coexist in the liturgy of the Church together with the Vulgate version – unless everybody „should wish to” accept this new translation.

Thus, pursuant to the pope’s decision, the daily prayer of the Church comprised henceforth the monuments of two very much different mentalities: firstly, Psalterium Gallicanum, a witness to the patristic “Septuagin option” and an object of centuries-old reflection; secondly, a suddenly developed product of academic research, evaluated only on the basis of its fidelity to the Hebrew original and its classicism of style. Regardless of the impracticality of such a dualism, this solution created an impression – for the second time within a few decades – that the true reform is not about revision, but about creation.

For the question arises whether it was really impossible to correct the Vulgate version instead of creating a brand new translation. Since the times of St. Pius X, the Benedictines from the Roman abbey of St. Hieronymus had been preparing a revision of Vulgate. Despite this, Pius XII decided to promote in liturgical usage a new translation, prepared at the Pontifical Biblical Institute. 

However, the Jesuists from this Institute did not restrict themselves to capturing correctly “the Hebrew truth”, but while preparing this new version they shaped its language after distinctly classical style, somewhat distancing themselves from the specificity of Christian Latin. Their Psalter sounded like the works by Cicero, whose Latin was certainly more classical than that of St. Hieronymus. Moreover, their translation did not take into account the requirements of singing the Psalms in choir and in accordance with the principles of Gregorian chant[8].

Immediately after the release of In cotidianis precibus and in later Church publications there appeared, of course, loud voices of gratitude to the pope for his approval of the new version of the Psalter, deemed as “the sovereign gesture” made “when supreme good of Christian life demands it”. However, it is hard to prove that prior to this reform a conviction that the Vulgate posed a major threat to Christian life had really been widespread[9].

Regardless of opinion one may have in the debate whether the version prepared at the Biblical Institute was indeed such a progress in translation, there is also another problematic issue: in the light of the principle of the organic development, the will to improve some aspect of the liturgy is not a sufficient reason to question the existing tradition – what is needed is the moral certainty that such an undertaking is indispensable for the benefit of spiritual life.  

 

The Psalter according to the Second Vatican Council: the less is the better

 

On the eve of the Second Vatican Council the planned reform of the breviary – hence also introduction of a new arrangement of the Psalter – was one of the most widely discussed issues. In 1957 Pius XII appointed a commission that surveyed a number of bishops on this matter. The Roman liturgical congregation had already had some concrete projects in its closets, waiting to make use of them.

The Council’s constitution Sacrosanctum concilium, promulgated on 4th December 1963, in its fourth chapter, devoted to the Roman Breviary, states that the restoration of this liturgical book, “so happily begun by the Apostolic See”, is introduced “in order that the Divine Office may be better and more perfectly prayed in existing circumstances, whether by priests or by other members of the Church”, which – in turn – is meant “to sanctify the day”. The Council Fathers were clearly motivated by the wish formulated by the commission appointed by Pius XII: “the traditional sequence of the hours is to be restored so that once again they may be genuinely related to the time of the day when they are prayed”, taking the pastoral conditionings into account.

As far as the above mentioned “traditional sequence of the hours” is concerned, the Council decided to accept a compromise: the emphasis was put on Lauds and Vespers, also Compline and Matins were preserved (the latter lost its nocturnal character, with the exception of cases when celebrated in choir), while in case of daytime prayers double standards were accepted (other for celebration in choir and other for celebration outside choir), and the hour of Prime was suppressed.  

Having defined the Hours, the constitution moves on to the directives meant to enable the faithful to celebrate the Office – as we have read – “better and more perfectly”, though afterwards it occurs that the Council describes this celebration also with two other adjectives: “more extensively and easily”.

Here we come to the regulation that is directly related to the issue analyzed in this lecture. The article 91 of Sacrosanctum concilium says:

Ut cursus Horarum, in art. 89 propositus, reapse observari possit, psalmi non amplius per unam hebdomadam, sed per longius temporis spatium distribuantur.

Opus recognitionis Psalterii, feliciter inchoatum, quamprimum perducatur ad finem, respectu habito latinitatis christianae, usus liturgici etiam in cantu, necnon totius traditionis latinae Ecclesiae.

[So that it may really be possible in practice to observe the course of the hours proposed in Art. 89, the psalms are no longer to be distributed throughout one week, but through some longer period of time.

The work of revising the psalter, already happily begun, is to be finished as soon as possible, and is to take into account the style of Christian Latin, the liturgical use of psalms, also when sung, and the entire tradition of the Latin Church.]

Those two statements – concerning the change of distribution of Psalms and the revision of the text – defined further frames and directions of the reform of the breviary Psalter.

 

Ordo ex machina: Psalter of the Liturgy of the Hours of 1971

 

Although during the whole of the 20th century the reform of the breviary had somewhat been the engine for the reform of also other liturgical books, post-Vatican reform of this very book lasted rather long and was completed only after the reform of the Missal and many rites from the Roman Pontifical or the Roman Ritual. The decree by the Congregation for Divine Worship, promulgating the typical edition of the Liturgy of the Hours according to the Roman Rite[10], was issued on 11th April 1971. Together with Liturgy of the Hours, which was the new book of the Office, also newly arranged Psalter was introduced.

It is worth noting that already before, in 1969, the Pontifical Commission for the New Vulgate, headed by card. Augustin Bea S.J., had published a revised Latin translation of the Book of Psalms, destined for the new book of the Office. Without going here into the comparative analysis of the three Latin versions of Psalms (that of Vulgate, that of the Pian Commission, and that of Neo-Vulgate), let’s only say that Neo-Vulgate translation turned out to be in a way conciliatory toward the ancient tradition – certainly to a larger extent than the translation issued by the Pian Commission.

Nevertheless, let’s now move on to discuss the new order of the Psalter.

Due to changes in the arrangement of the Hours[11], it was a precise wish of the Council to distribute Psalms not “throughout one week, but through some longer period of time”[12]. Behind this statement there was a recurring thought of the Psalter distributed over two weeks (as, for example, in the Ambrosian rite).  But in the end the Psalter was arranged into a four-week cycle[13] (model that was taken from the Book of Common Prayer of the Anglican Church[14]). It means in practice that the majority of the Psalms is used in prayer once a month – while before each of them had recurred no less than once a week.

The Liturgy of the Hours haskept the procedure of dividing the Psalms, introduced by the Roman Breviary of 1911 – now it has been used to a similar extent, but in many cases the Psalms have been divided differently.

The New Psalter is not a complete one. Among the eliminated texts there were both a few Psalms in their entirety (57, 82 and 108), as well as those parts of nineteen other Psalms that due to their “imprecatory nature” could have created a “certain psychological difficulty”[15]. Such a move had had no precedent in the history of the Roman Breviary, though it is known among the reformed communities.

Each Psalm in the Psaltery of the Liturgy of the Hours have been given a caption (explaining “its meaning and its import for the personal life of the believer”) and accompanied by a quotation from the New Testament or the Fathers of the Church (“to foster prayer in the light of Christ's new revelation”)[16]. Though the latter addition was some novelty, it had been deeply rooted in Christian tradition of understanding the Psalms[17].

The number of the canticles from the Old Testament has been significantly increased (from 17 to 26). The canticles already used in Lauds have been modified – their texts have been shortened or elaborately cut inside. As a novelty, canticles from the New Testament have been introduced to Vespers.

Of course, the fundamentally new arrangement of the Psalter has caused new distribution of Psalms among particular offices.

As in case of the Roman Breviary of 1911, Matins – renamed now to the Office of Readings – underwent the biggest changes. The number of Psalms within each celebration has been diminished from 9 to 3. The arrangement of Psalms has been completely changed. The same may be said of Lauds, that from now have comprised not 5, but 3 Psalms, selected on a completely different basis.

The psalmodic structure of the Minor Hours –  both of the three traditional ones and of the new Middle Hour – has remained the same, consisting of three Psalms. But the selection of Psalms has been brand new.

While the reform of 1911 changed an earlier arrangement of the Vespers’ Psalms only to a very limited extent, in the Liturgy of the Hours of 1971 a true revolution has been made. The number of Psalms in each Vespers has been diminished from 5 to 2 (or to 3, if we count also the canticle from the New Testament). The Psalms have been distributed among the days of the week in a way that was unfamiliar both to the earlier tradition, and to the reform of 1911. 

Shortly speaking, the Psalter offered by the Liturgy of the Hours of 1971 has little in common with earlier tradition of the prayer of the Church, neither in terms of distribution of Psalms over the time, nor in relation to the number of Psalms within particular offices, nor in case of its completeness.

 

Attempted summary:

Modifications of psalmody throughout the centuries

 

Let’s make an attempt to summarize briefly a historical evolution of the Psalter used in the Office of the Roman rite[18].

From the earliest times, the Roman rite preserved the principle of reciting the entire Psalter within one week of the ordinary – it meant that each Psalm was to be recited principally once a week, with the exception of those Psalms that were recited more often, even daily (4, 50, 53, 62, 66, 90, 94, 118, 133, 148, 149, 150). One-week cycle of the Psalter was sustained in the RB 1911, though in such a way that actually excluded the possibility of saying some Psalms more often than once a week. Meanwhile, in case of the LH 1971, due to distributing the Psalter over the course of four weeks, the majority of the Psalms is recited once a month, with the exception of a few that recur weekly in Compline.

From the earliest times there were 8 Canonical Hours within the Psalter of the Office of the Roman rite: Matin, Lauds, Prime, Terce, Sext, None, Vespers and Compline. This was changed only in LH 1971, when Prime has been suppressed and the rest of the Minor Hours can be – if recited outside choir – substituted with one prayer, so called Middle Hour. Hence, in practice, the Office may be narrowed down to five Canonical Hours.

From the earliest times each and every Psalm had had its place within the Office, including those texts that had been the most likely to raise some reluctance or evoke questions.

From the earliest times there was no practice of dividing the Psalms in the Roman rite, with the exception of Psalm 118 – in all other cases they were recited in their entirety. Meanwhile, since RB 1911 division of Psalms has become a frequent solution, leading to situations where one Psalm, divided into three parts, may fill out the whole Hour.

 

Psalmody of Matins

 

From the earliest times the number of Psalms on weekdays was never lower than 12, while on Sundays was even higher: in the beginning it was twice as much (24), while from the 6th century to 1911 there were 18 Psalms in this office. Only RB 1911 equalized the number of Psalms in Sunday and everyday psalmody, diminishing it to 9. Such an equality has been sustained in LH 1971, however the number of Psalms in Matins was further lowered to 3 Psalms (or to 3 units).

From the earliest times, up to RB 1911, nothing had changed in selection of Psalms assigned to particular days of the week. But in the 20th century this selection was changed practically completely twice (in RB 1911 and LH 1971).

 

Day

5-6c.

BR 1568

BR 1911

LH 1971-72

I

II

III

IV

Sun

 

1, 2, 3, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26

94;

N1: 1; 2; 3; 6; 7; 8; 9; 10; 11; 12; 13; 14.

N2: 15; 16; 17.

N3: 18; 19; 20.

94;

N1: 1; 2; 3.

 

N2: 8; 91; 92.

N3: 93; 94, 10.

(94)

1; 2; 3

(94)

1031, 1032, 1033

(94)

1441, 1442, 1443

(94)

23; 651, 652

Mon

 

27, 28, 29, 30, 31, 32, 33, 34, 35, 36, 37, 38

94;

26; 27; 28; 29; 30; 31; 32; 33; 34; 35; 36; 37.

94;

N1: 13; 14; 16.

N2: 171, 172; 173

N3: 19, 20, 29.

(94)

6; 9 A, i; 9 A, ii

(94)

30, 1-9; 30, 10-17. 20-25

(94)

491, 492, 493

(94)

721, 722, 723

Tue

 

39, 40, 41, 43, 44, 45, 46, 47, 48, 49, 51, 52

94;

38; 39; 40; 41; 43; 44; 45; 46; 47; 48; 49; 51

94;

N1: 341, 342, 343.

N2: 361, 362, 363.

N3: 371, 372, 38

(94)

9 B, i; 9 B, ii; 11.

(94)

361, 362, 363.

(94)

671, 672, 673.

(94)

1011, 1012, 1013.

Wed

 

53, 54, 55, 56, 57, 58, 59, 60, 61, 63, 65, 67

94;

52; 54; 55; 56; 57; 58; 59; 60; 61; 63; 65; 67

94;

N1: 441, 442, 45.

N2: 47; 481, 482.

N3: 491, 492, 50 (491, 492, 493).

(94)

17, 2-7; 17, 8-20; 17, 21-30.

(94)

381, 382, 51

(94)

491, 492, 493.

(94)

1021, 1022, 1023.

Thu

 

68, 69, 70, 71, 72, 73, 74, 75, 76, 77, 78, 79

94;

68; 69; 70; 71; 72; 73; 74; 75; 76; 77; 78; 79

94;

N1: 61; 651, 652.

N2: 671, 672, 673.

N3: 681, 682, 683

(94)

17, 31-35; 17, 36-46; 17, 47-51.

(94)

431, 432, 433.

(94)

88, 39-46; 88, 47-53.

(94)

431, 432, 433.

Fri

 

80, 81, 82, 83, 84, 85, 86, 87, 88, 93, 94, 95

94;

80; 81; 82; 83; 84; 85; 86; 87; 88; 93; 95; 96

94;

N1: 771, 772, 773.

N2: 774, 775, 776.

N3: 78; 80; 82.

(94)

34, 1-2. 3c. 9-12; 34, 13-16; 34, 17-19. 22-23. 27-28.

(94)

371, 372, 373.

(94)

68, 2-13; 68, 14-22; 68, 30-37.

(94)

77, 1-16; 77, 17-31; 77, 32-39.

Sat

 

96, 97, 98, 100, 101, 102, 103, 104, 105, 106, 107, 108

94;

97; 98; 99 (lub 91); 100; 101; 102; 103; 104; 105; 106; 107; 108

94;

N1: 1041, 1042, 1043.

N2: 1051, 1052, 1053.

N3: 1061, 1062, 1063.

(94)

104, i; 104, ii; 104, iii.

(94)

1051, 1052, 1053.

(94)

1061, 1062, 1063.

(94)

77, 40-51; 77, 52-64; 77, 65-72.

 

 

Psalmody of Lauds

 

From the earliest times the psalmody of Lauds always comprised “5 Psalms” (but in practice there were 7 Psalms and canticles, divided into five groups: 1, 1, 2, C, 3). BR 1911 lowers this number to the actual 5, while LH 1971 – to 5.

From the earliest times the psalmody of Lauds was daily concluded with the three last Psalms from the Book of Psalms – but this custom was abolished in BR 1911. It was also then that the earlier way of distributing the Psalms among particular days of the week was severely changed – though it was not until LH 1971 when it was completely shattered.

One can note that the exceptional significance of Psalm 50 (acquired by it in the 6th century) has been preserved also in the 20th century, though the frequency of its use is constantly changing.

 

 

Day

5-6c.

BR 1568

BR 1911

LH 1971

I

II

III

IV

Sun

92, 99, 62 + 66, C, 148-150

 

92, 99, 62 + 66, C, 148-50

50, 117, 62 + 66, C, 148-150

92, 99, 62, C,

148

50, 117, 62, C,

148

62, 2-9; C; 149

117; C; 150

92; C; 148

117; C; 150

Mon

50, 5, 62 + 66, C, 148-150

50, 5, 62 + 66, C, 148-150

46, 5, 28, C, 116

50, 5, 28, C, 116

5, 2-10. 12-13; C; 28

41; C; 18 A

83; C; 95

89; C; 134, 1-12

Tue

50, 42, 62 + 66, C, 148-150

50, 42, 62 + 66, C, 148-150

95, 42, 66, C, 134

50, 42, 66, C, 134

23; C; 32

42; C; 64

84; C; 66

100; C; 143, 1-10

Wed

50, 64, 62 + 66, C, 148-150

50, 64, 62 + 66, C, 148-150

96, 64, 100, C, 145

50, 64, 100, C, 145

35; C; 46

76; C; 96

85; C; 97

107; C; 145

Thu

50, 89, 62 + 66, C, 148-150

50, 89, 62 + 66, C, 148-150

97, 89, 35, C, 146

50, 89, 35, C, 146

56; C; 47

79; C; 80

86; C; 98

142, 1-11; C; 146

Fri

50, 142, 62 + 66, C, 148-150

50, 142, 62 + 66, C, 148-150

98, 142, 84, C, 147

50, 142, 84, C,

147

50; C; 99

50; C; 147

50; C; 99

50; C; 147

Sat

50, 91, 62 + 66, C, 148-150

50, 91, 62 + 66, C, 148-150

149, 91, 63, C, 150

50, 91, 63, C,

150

118, 145-152; C; 116

91; C; 8

118, 145-152; C; 116

91; C; 8

 

 

Psalmody of Prime

 

The long tradition standing behind Prime does not change the fact that its psalmody was subjected to numerous modifications throughout the centuries. Nevertheless, some of its characteristic features (concerning the selection of Psalms) had been generally preserved either until BR 1911, or even until the reform of 1971. But elimination of Prime, ordered by the Second Vatican Council, has ended its career within Liturgia Horarum.

 

Day

5-6c.

BR 1568

BR 1911

LH 1971

Sun

117, 118I-IV

 

53, 117, 1181, 1182

53, 92, 1181, 1182

117

1181, 1182

92

99

1181, 1182

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

xxx

Mon

 

 

 

 

53,

118I-IV

 

53, 23, 1181, 1182

23, 181, 182

23, 181, 182, 46

Tue

53, 24, 1181, 1182

241, 242, 243

241, 242, 243, 95

Wed

53, 25, 1181, 1182

25, 51, 52

25, 51, 52, 96

Thu

53, 22, 1181, 1182

22, 711, 712

22, 711, 712, 97

Fri

53, 21, 1181, 1182

211, 212, 213

211, 212, 213, 98

Sat

53, 1181, 1182

931, 932, 107

931, 932, 107, 149

 

Psalmody of the Minor Hours

 

Up until 1911, Terce, Sext and None consisted in daily recitation of subsequent parts of Psalm 118. In BR 1911 this particular Psalm was preserved only in case of Sunday office, while on weekdays other Psalms (previously used in Matins) were introduced. Meanwhile, in LH 1971 both so called “additional psalmody” and the current psalmody for particular hora media are based on such a selection of Psalms that was utterly unfamiliar to the tradition of the Roman rite[19].

 

Day

5-6c.

BR 1568

BR 1911

LH 1971

daily

daily

Sun

Mon

Tue

Wed

Thu

Fri

Sat

daily

Terce

118V-X

1183

1184

1185

1183

1184

1185

261

262

27

391

392

393

53

541

542

721

722

723

791

792

81

1011 

1012 

1013

119

120

121

Sext

118XI-XVI

1186

1187

1188

1186

1187

1188

301

302

303

40

411

412

55

56

57

731

732

733

831

832

86

1031 

1032 

1033

122

123

124

None

118XVII-XXII

1189

11810

11811

1189

11810

11811

31

321

322

431

432

433

581

582

59

74

751

752

881

882

883

1081 

1082 

1083

125

126

127

 

 

Psalmody of Vespers

 

Throughout the centuries – from the oldest sources to BR 1568 – there was some kind of admirable changelessness in the structure and selection of the psalmody of Vespers. Also BR 1911 to a larger extent preserved this tradition. But LH 1971 has introduced a sudden and multidimensional change: number of the elements of the psalmody has been lowered down from 5 to 3; one of Psalms has been substituted with a canticle from the New Testament; selection of Psalms has ceased to show any continuity with previous, outstandingly long tradition – exceptional is the case of Sunday, where – among others – the primacy of Messianic Psalm 109 has been preserved.

 

Day

5c.. = BR 1568

BR 1911

LH 1971-72

I

II

III

IV

Sun

109, 110, 111, 112, 113

109, 110, 111, 112, 113

109, 1-5. 7; 113 A; C

109, 1-5. 7; 113 B; C

109, 1-5. 7; 110; C

109, 1-5. 7; 111; C

Mon

114; 115; 116; 119; 120

114; 115; 119; 120; 121

10; 14; C

441, 442, C

122; 123; C

1351, 1352, C

Tue

121; 122; 123; 124; 125

122; 123; 124; 125; 126

19; 20, 2-8. 14; C

481, 482, C

124; 130; C

136, 1-6; 137; C

Wed

126; 127; 128; 129; 130

127; 128; 129; 130; 131

26, i; 26, ii; C

61; 66; C

125; 126; C

138, 1-12; 138, 13-18. 23-24; C

Thu

131; 132; 134; 135; 136

132; 1351, 1352, 136; 137

29; 31; C

711, 712, C

1311, 1312, C

1431, 1432, C

Fri

137; 138; 139; 140; 141

1381, 1382, 139; 140; 141

40; 45; C

114; 120; C

1341, 1342, C

1441, 1442, C

Sat

143; 144; 145; 146; 147

1431, 1432, 1441, 1442, 1443

140, 1-9; 141; C

118, 105-112; 15; C

112; 115; C

121; 129; C

 

 

Psalmody of Compline

 

The structure and selection of psalmody of Compline remained the same for a good many centuries and was interrupted only in the 20th century; but while in BR 1911 traditional selection of Psalms was preserved at least for Sunday, it has been finally disintegrated in LH 1971, and only traces of it can be traced in the offices after the First and Second Vespers of Sundays and Feasts.

 

Day

5c. = BR 1568

BR 1911

LH 1971

Sun

 

 

4

90

133

4, 90, 133

90

Mon

6, 71, 72

85

Tue

11, 12, 15

142, 1-11

Wed

331, 332, 60

30, 1-6; 129

Thu

69, 701, 702

15

Fri

761, 762, 85

87

Sat

87, 1021, 1022

4, 133

 

 

Paweł Milcarek

 

[1]Breviarium Romanum ex decreti S.sancti Concilii Tridentini restitutum, s. Pii V P.M. iussu editum, Clementis VIII, Urbani VIII et Leonis XIII auctoritate recognitum.

[2] See ASS 16 (1883-1884), pp. 47-48 (for the decree) and pp. 145-180 (for the texts of the offices).

[3] Hereinafter cited as in: AAS 3 (1911), pp. 633-650.

[4]Anton Baumstark remarked: „Down to the year 1911 there was nothing in the Christian Liturgy of such absolute universality as this practice in the moring office [i.e. daily recitation of Laudate Psalms], and no doubt its universality was inherited from the worship of the Synagogue... Hence to the reformers of the Psalterium Romanum belongs the distinction of having brought to an end the universal observance of a liturgical practice which was followed, one can say, by the Divine Redeemer Himself during His life on earth” (as cited in: Alcuin Reid, The Organic Development of the Liturgy, San Francisco2005, pp. 75n; hereinafter referred to as: Reid, 2005).

[5] In practice it was often considered necessary to divide particular Psalms – hence, instead of a few Psalms, subsequent “parts” of even one and the same Psalm were to be recited within one office.

[6] As cited in Reid, 2005, p. 76

[7] AAS 37 (1945), pp. 65-67.

[8] Cf. Carlo Braga, La Liturgia delle Ore al Vaticano II, Rome2008, p. 38; hereinafter referred to as: Braga, 2008.

[9]Cf. Reid, 2005, p. 157.

[10]Officium divinum ex decreto Ss. Oecumenici Concilii Vatricani II instauratum auctoritate Pauli Pp. VI promulgatum: Liturgia horarum iuxta ritum romanum

[11] Cf. SC, 89.

[12] Cf. SC, 91: „psalmi non amplius per unam hebdomadam, sed per longius temporis spatium distribuantur”.

[13] Cf. Institutio generalis de Liturgia Horarum (IGLH), 126.

[14] Cf. Bugnini, 1990, p. 499.

[15]Cf. IGLH, 131: „Tres vero psalmi 57, 82 et 108, in quibus præponderat indoles imprecatoria, omittuntur in Psalterio currente. Item aliqui versus nonnullorum psalmorum prætermissi sunt… Quorum textuum omissio fit ob quandam difficultatem psychologicam, etsi psalmi ipsi imprecatorii in pietate Novi Testamenti occurrunt, exempli gratia Ap 6, 10, nulloque modo intendunt ad maledicendum inducere”.

[16] Cf. IGLH, 111.

[17] Cf. IGLH, 109.

[18]In relation to the Psalmody of the Roman rite of the 5th and the 6th centuries, I refer here to the works by Joseph Pascher, as cited in: Robert F. Taft SJ, Liturgy of the hours in East and West, Collegeville 1993, p. 136.

[19] However, so called additional psalmody is almost completely consistent with so called Gradual Psalms. 


Paweł Milcarek