GILH 110-112: Captions and Psalm Prayers

Part II of Chapter III treats Antiphons and Other Aids to Praying the Psalms:

110. In the Latin tradition of psalmody three elements have greatly contributed to an understanding of the psalms and their use as Christian prayer: the captions, the psalm-prayers, and in particular the antiphons.

Before we get to the antiphons, we’ll look at the other two:

111. In the psalter of The Liturgy of the Hours a caption is given for each psalm to explain its meaning and its import for the personal life of the believer. These captions are intended only as an aid to prayer. A quotation from the New Testament or the Fathers of the Church is added to foster prayer in the light of Christ’s new revelation; it is an invitation to pray the psalms in their Christological meaning.

112. Psalm-prayers for each psalm are given in the supplement to The Liturgy of the Hours as an aid to understanding them in a predominantly Christian way. An ancient tradition provides a model for their use: after the psalm a period of silence is observed, then the prayer gives a resume and resolution of the thoughts and aspirations of those praying the psalms.

The pacing of the psalm prayer is always important. In communal celebrations of the hours, time is needed to permit the psalm to “sink in.” In private prayer, I don’t find the captions very helpful. But perhaps others have different experiences.

Comments are always welcome.

About catholicsensibility

Todd lives in Minnesota, serving a Catholic parish as a lay minister.
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7 Responses to GILH 110-112: Captions and Psalm Prayers

  1. Frankly, I’m not sure what to do with the psalm prayers. When following the basic structure of:

    psalm (leader and the rest alternating stanzas)
    glory be

    It’s unclear where to put the psalm prayer in. And they don’t strike me as deeply read-aloud-able. (At least, not at the level of holding up well to repeated reading.)

    Thus far, we’ve simply been leaving them out in group recitation — in part at the suggestion of our priest, who in private prayer uses the UK translation, which doesn’t include psalm prayers. (I gather this is because the Latin typical edition doesn’t actually include any either — it is laid out as something that’s supposed to be there, but apparently no one has got around to writing them in Latin.)

  2. Todd says:

    I include them almost always, but I find the practice of standing for them to be a bit of a distraction. Ordinarily, they are placed after the final antiphon, but I suppose silent prayer (30-40 seconds) would be another possibility.

  3. Rob F. says:

    I pray the Latin edition (2000 AD). No psalm prayers in there. Do you have any idea where theses prayers come from? They are mentioned in the IGLH, but not included. I have not seen the supplement mentioned in the instructions.

  4. Todd says:

    My copy of Christian Prayer has them after each psalm. The credits on the title page are cryptic, but simply attributes them as part of the “English translation of the Liturgy of the Hours.”

    I would assume they are part of the original ritual edition (1971 AD)

  5. ppojawa says:

    Captions sometimes help me to get my mind back on track after a distraction :)

  6. David S says:

    The captions sometimes help me, especially when they quote from the New Testament, or Church Fathers, showing the Psalm in the light of Christ.

    After using the psalm prayers for a couple of years, I stopped. One, they don’t seem to be part of recent usage, despite the Instruction’s reference to an ancient model. Also, they seem to set up this rhythm of: we recite a psalm, then we pray. It seems to distract from the Psalm itself being the prayer.

  7. Rob F. says:

    Quite by accident, I stumbled across what may be the answer to my question above. It’s from Wikipedia, so it may be completely bogus, but when I read it, it reminded me of this blog. I guess my question has never completely left my mind…

    The name of the Wikipedia article is “Liber Orationum Psalmographus”. If Wikipedia is right, it is the source of the psalm prayers.

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