Psalm Verses for Singing - Liturgy of the Hours
  • It's my week for dumb questions, I guess! I'm putting together a Vespers liturgy guide (in English), and trying to make sense of the text blocking for the psalms (for purposes of setting them to a tone and alternating sides of the congregation). The text blocks in the Liturgy of the Hours book do not correspond to the psalm verses (e.g. often two psalm verses are used to make one 4-line block of text, but sometimes 1 verse is used if it has 3+ lines of text). Sometimes a verse is cut into pieces in the book (for example, a single line is attached to the next text block, or put by itself as its own text block).

    So, for the collective mind here - the text blocks in the LOTH book indicate where the two sides alternate saying the psalms. But when setting these to music, is there a required or preferred method of dividing up the psalm? Do we need to adhere to the text blocking in the LOTH, or should we alternate for each verse? To be more specific, I am using a simple 2-measure Meinrad tone for chanting these (and it needs to be accessible to the congregation). I have some other Vespers liturgy guides that were made for us by Fr. Samuel Weber, and I've noticed that he uses a 2-measure tone and splits most things up by verse, rather than sticking to the text blocking in LOTH. HOWEVER, when a single verse is long (4+ lines) he sometimes alternates halfway, giving 2-3 lines of the single verse to each side.

    If it's just a matter of making things fit and work practically, that's no problem. However, I'm curious if there is a correct or required way to handle this.
  • ryandryand
    Posts: 1,620
    I have always done it alternating where the LOTH has breaks. 2-line sections are halves of the psalm tone, 4-line sections are just two 2’s. If there is a 3-line section, use the flex - with Meinrad tones you can just stay on the reciting tone or drop by a step or minor 3rd, depending on the tone, at the end of the first line. The second resumes on the reciting tone until the asterisk, and the 3rd line uses the second half of the tone. (5-line sections will be 3+2 or 2+3, depending on the text.

    An example (flex at start of 3rd paragraph):

    With all my voice I cry to the Lord, *
      with all my voice I entreat the Lord.
    I pour out my trouble before him; *
      I tell him all my distress
    while my spirit faints within me. *
      But you, O Lord, know my path.

    On the way where I shall walk *
      they have hidden a snare to entrap me.
    Look on my right and see: *
      there is no one who takes my part.
    I have no means of escape, *
      not one who cares for my soul.

    I cry to you, O Lord. †
      I have said: "You are my refuge *
      all I have in the land of the living."
    Listen, then, to my cry *
      for I am in the depths of distress.

    Rescue me from those who pursue me *
      for they are stronger than I.
    Bring my soul out of this prison *
      and then I shall praise your name.
    Around me the just will assemble *
      because of your goodness to me.


    I have the entire 4-week psalter set as above. If you would like it for the date you have in mind, just let me know and I’ll post it here.

    (The indents on every other line are not showing up for some reason. @chonak ???)
    Thanked by 1CHGiffen
  • CHGiffenCHGiffen
    Posts: 4,192
    "The indents on every other line are not showing up for some reason."

    My solution is to insert:
      , which produces three spaces; e.g.
    without the spaces
      with the spaces

    Note, there is an ordinary space before and after the
     . Just using   without an ordinary space before & after produces a single space; e.g.
    without the space
     with the space
    Thanked by 2ryand Incardination
  • ryandryand
    Posts: 1,620
    That did the trick, thank you!
  • Thanks, Ryan - this is my instinct as well. I was just wondering if there is any "liturgically correct" way to do this, or if it is more at the discretion of the one choosing the psalm tones. I wish I had known you had these all done - I typed and formatted it all before posting!
  • chonakchonak
    Posts: 7,932
    The line breaks in the US LOTH were probably taken from a previous edition of the 1963 Grail Psalms, which were published with a companion set of six-line tones.