This post and the next on antiphons. A bit dry, but for liturgy geeks, important stuff. First, four purposes for the antiphon:
113. Even when the liturgy of the hours is recited, not sung, each psalm retains its own antiphon, which is also to be said in private recitation.
- The antiphons help to bring out the literary genre of the psalm;
- they highlight some theme that may otherwise not attract the attention it deserves;
- they suggest an individual tone in a psalm, varying with different contexts: indeed, as long as farfetched accommodated senses are avoided, antiphons are of great value in helping toward an understanding of the typological meaning or the meaning appropriate to the feast;
- they can also add pleasure and variety to the recitation of the psalms.
Options for using an antiphon after each strophe or using the quotation that accompanies the psalm:
114. The antiphons in the psalter have been designed to lend themselves to vernacular translation and to repetition after each strophe, in accordance with no. 125. When the office of Ordinary Time is recited, not sung, the quotations printed with the psalms may be used in place of these antiphons (see GILH 111).
And an option for long psalms:
115. When a psalm may be divided because of its length into several sections within one and the same hour, an antiphon is given for each section. This is to provide variety, especially when the hour is sung, and also to help toward a better understanding of the riches of the psalm. Still, it is permissible to say or sing the complete psalm without interruption, using only the first antiphon.
The antiphons of the psalm used in the liturgy of the word for the Eucharist and other sacramental rites is usually derived from the psalm itself. Antiphons used in the LH have wider sources.