Now that we’ve settled the questions of why psalms (OCF 355) and how to sing them (356), let’s turn to which psalms to pray:
357. The psalmody of morning prayer from the office for the dead consists of Psalm 51, a psalm of lament and petition, Psalm 146 or Psalm 150, a psalm of praise, and an Old Testament canticle from Isaiah.
Psalm 51 is a Friday choice in the Liturgy of the Hours. And an interesting and appropriate one for the office for the dead. It reflects the Church’s continuing message of the need for repentance, of reliance on God for grace, and on the hope and possibility of reform within the framework of cooperation with God. Personally, I prefer to leave the exuberance of the 150th for other occasions. And that canticle is from Isaiah 38, Hezekiah’s prayer in his illness.
358. The psalmody of evening prayer consists of Psalm 121 and 130, two psalms of lament and petition, and a New Testament canticle from the letter of Paul to the Philippians.
Again, interesting choices, especially the choice of Paul’s kenosis text. I would have thought one of the Revelation canticles, something of the triumph of the just, would have been a consideration. As it is, one does have options:
359. For pastoral reasons, psalms other than those given in the office for the dead may be chosen, provided they are appropriate for the time of day and suitable for use in the office for the dead (see, for example, antiphons and psalms in part III (OCF 347). (GILH 252)
A musician working with a faith community that celebrated the office for the dead with any frequency would need to have a fair familiarity with the Liturgy of the Hours. Test yourself on where these psalms might be placed: 23, 25, 27, 63, 103, 119, 122–just for starters.