GILH 130-132: Special Psalms

Why don’t people who pray the LH see some psalms more often? Some are special:

130. Three psalms (78, 105, and 106) are reserved for the seasons of Advent, Christmas, Lent, and Easter, because they throw a special light on the Old Testament history of salvation as the forerunner of its fulfillment in the New.

A few are omitted entirely:

131. Three psalms (58, 83, and 109) have been omitted from the psalter cycle because of their curses; in the same way, some verses have been omitted from certain psalms, as noted at the head of each. The reason for the omission is a certain psychological difficulty, even though the psalms of imprecation are in fact used as prayer in the New Testament, for example, Rv 6:10, and in no sense to encourage the use of curses.

And the case of Psalm 119:

132. Psalms too long to be included in one hour of the office are assigned to the same hour on different days so that they may be recited in full by those who do not usually say other hours. Thus Ps 119 is divided in keeping with its own internal structure and is spread over twenty-two days during daytime prayer, because tradition has assigned it to the day hours.

Some people have expressed disappointment at the omission of psalms with curses and invective. Should we edit the darker side? Should we edit strong emotions part of the Judeo-Christian heritage? I don’t think there’s a single answer that fits all.

For family prayer, I’d say the judgment is correct. The psalms can be difficult enough, let alone some Gospel passages.

For religious communities, the presumption is maturity and perspective. I wouldn’t see Psalm 58 as a problem in the sense that those who pray it will go out and break the teeth of oppressors.

For the wide middle ground, I think a psalter with options for parish use would be best. I’d say that even a one-week psalter is not a bad idea for some circumstances. The reality is that only religious and seminarians delve into the LH with both feet. The average parish is likely to go very slowly.

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About catholicsensibility

Todd and his family live in Ames, Iowa. He serves a Catholic parish of both Iowa State students and town residents.
This entry was posted in GILH, Liturgy, Rites. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to GILH 130-132: Special Psalms

  1. FrMichael says:

    IMHO there ought to be a “cursing Monday” somewhere in the four week cycle, a day in which the hours focus on praying the imprecatory psalms. If they’re good enough to be in the canon, they are good enough for us to pray once in a while. Either that, or bring back prime and put them there.

  2. Pingback: GILM 76-77: Difficult Texts and Omitted Verses « Catholic Sensibility

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