Friday, June 12, 2009

February 11, June 12, October 12

Chapter 9: How Many Psalms Are to Be Said at the Night Office

In winter time as defined above,
there is first this verse to be said three times:
"O Lord, open my lips,
and my mouth shall declare Your praise."
To it is added Psalm 3 and the "Glory be to the Father,"
and after that Psalm 94 to be chanted with an antiphon
or even chanted simply.
Let the Ambrosian hymn follow next,
and then six Psalms with antiphons.
When these are finished and the verse said,
let the Abbot give a blessing;
then, all being seated on the benches,
let three lessons be read from the book on the lectern
by the brethren in their turns,
and after each lesson let a responsory be chanted.
Two of the responsories are to be said
without a "Glory be to the Father"
but after the third lesson
let the chanter say the "Glory be to the Father,"
and as soon as he begins it let all rise from their seats
out of honor and reverence to the Holy Trinity.

The books to be read at the Night Office
shall be those of divine authorship,
of both the Old and the New Testament,
and also the explanations of them which have been made
by well known and orthodox Catholic Fathers.

After these three lessons with their responsories
let the remaining six Psalms follow,
to be chanted with "Alleluia."
After these shall follow the lesson from the Apostle,
to be recited by heart,
the verse
and the petition of the litany, that is "Lord, have mercy on us."
And so let the Night Office come to an end.

Some thoughts:

Sadly, I've been very busy the past 2 days and so we have skipped all of chapter 8. If you like, you can read it here:

About these readings the next few days... they are about the nitty gritty details of praying the Divine Office, the opus dei. It gets detailed and please let us remember that back in that day, they had no breviaries, no office books, no Books of Common Prayer. So Benedict had to write all of this stuff down and the monks prayed the psalms from memory.

I gotta tell you, I am so grateful to Gutenberg I could just kiss him. Thanks be to God for the printed word. Thanks be to God for books.

Maybe there are all sorts of spiritual and holy reasons why certain psalms are assigned to certain times of the day. If there are, I don't know the reasons. I suppose it is something that I could find out were I motivated enough, but honestly, I never have been. If someone here knows and feels like writing it up, please share. I do know that the Ambrosian hymn referred to is one of the many by Ambrose of Milan, 4th century. This particular hymn is the Te Deum.

As I see it, for those of who don't live in religious communities, many of the details in this and subsequent chapters are not as important. There are commentaries by 3 vowed religious in the Files on the website, if you'd like to read them.

But at the risk of repeating myself (another reason why it would be so wonderful if others were to jump and discuss the reading for the day) to me the crucial point is that we pray the Psalms. That we read and meditate on holy books written by the Great Saints of Yore. That we allow ourselves to be taught by them as they allowed their predecessors to teach them. It is our own participation in the apostolic succession.

What do you think?



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