Summer Common Psalms

King David Lyre 5One of my parish’s better singers wrote to me about the high(er) bar I’ve placed on psalmists, and it’s continued through June and July:

I know I have struggled with several this summer, and I’ve watched other cantors have trouble as well. It’s not that they are beyond our capabilities (usually!), but that we have less time in summer (no rehearsals til right before mass) to learn them well. You’ve given us other avenues to learn them (come in any time; midi file, YouTube), but for me, I think of our summer “off” as a time when we need less practice/rehearsal time, and we are doing “old favorites.”

I admitted in my reply I had ulterior motives in keeping the bar high. If I was permitted to rehearse only one piece for an upcoming Mass, it would be the psalm after the first reading. Hands down. Every week.

That said, my view is that every Catholic music director and Ordinary Time psalmist should know eight numbers: 19, 27, 34, 63, 95, 100, 103, and 145.

These are the common responsorial psalms for Ordinary Time, and settings of these psalms are appropriate any time as a replacement for the proper psalmody of the day. What do you think, you church musicians in the reading audience? Lighten up on psalmists and/or cantors?

About catholicsensibility

Todd lives in the Pacific Northwest, serving a Catholic parish as a lay minister.
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2 Responses to Summer Common Psalms

  1. Liam says:

    I am not a fan of the common psalms – they are licit and approved, but where there is a clear (albeit metaphorical, symbolic, et cet.) link between the proper lections and the proper psalms, my preference would be to try to do the proper psalm.

    (Btw, this is a more serious version of the issue you periodically raise about the proper antiphons not being linked to the proper lections. I’ve come to see the value of the lack of a clear tie between those offering an opportunity for a different perspective during the liturgy, and I acknowledge that can also be true for using the common psalms instead of the proper psalm. But for the love of Pete, if I never have to hear or sing All The Yendz of The Earth again so many times during Christmastide, I won’t be unhappy…..)

  2. Ditto to Liam’s ever-apt comments. If your singers are using settings other than a missal’s default collection (think R&A) that use a more “song-like” construct, and they can’t render those without dedicated rehearsals, then maybe they ought to master versions like R&A, Parish Book of Psalms or Illuminare’s. Being a “psalmist” isn’t focused upon singing prowess per se, it’s about successful content delivery in the ritual moment, it’s about relationship. Don’t lighten up, so to speak.

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