Memorizing the Psalter
  • avscvltaavscvlta
    Posts: 43
    If you were going to start memorizing the Psalms, which translation / edition would you use?
  • MatthewRoth
    Posts: 1,338
    Gallican psalter, ergo, from a pre-1946 edition of the breviary; after that date, it's more likely to have the Bea psalter or the neo-Vulgate, though new printings have thankfully left the Bea psalter where it belongs.
    Thanked by 1avscvlta
  • WGS
    Posts: 258
    I can't say that I recommend it for others, but in my own memory, it is the Gelineau settings of text with their concomitant tunes that stay in my mind. - even though I have not sung them for years!
  • Liam
    Posts: 4,209
    Musically in English: Theodore Marier's.
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  • CharlesSA
    Posts: 120
    I would memorize the Latin Vulgate. Perhaps while also making sure that I am at least familiar with some other English translations for the more difficult/obscure parts to understand in the Vulgate.

    Having spent some time as a Benedictine postulant/novice, I had quite a few memorized or very close to it by the time I left: 3, 4, 6, 31, 50, 62, 66, 90, 92, 94, 99, 109-112, 116, 119-127, 129, 133, 148-150. A number of others that are shorter could have easily been memorized over time, such as 1, 8, 14, 22, 23, 86, 97, 114, 115, 128, 130, 132, just to name a few.
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  • M. Jackson Osborn
    Posts: 7,851
    As every one here is likely already aware, it seems almost a Herculean feat that the desert fathers recited the entire psalter every night.
    For me there are two psalters which shine above all others - the Vulgate and Coverdale.
  • CatherineS
    Posts: 583
    A worthy project! Will you memorize them sung or said?
    Thanked by 1avscvlta
  • M. Jackson Osborn
    Posts: 7,851
    Sometimes song bursts forth.
    At other times a quiet and simple spoken voice..
    The St Dunstan's Plainsong Psalter, published by the Lancelot Andrewes Press offers the complete Coverdale psalter set and pointed to all the various Gregorian tones -
    plus all the canticles.
    Though I have sung them for many years I am now enjoying just saying them in a quiet and thoughtful voice. There is beauty in both.
    I must confess that I do not know them from memory, but treasure memorable verses.
  • Jehan_Boutte
    Posts: 140
    I usually pray Divine Office in Latin, and so, I have memorized many verses from the "Gallican Psalter" (from the Vulgate). I would encourage you to do the same.
    Thanked by 1avscvlta
  • ScottKChicago
    Posts: 334
    The 1979 American Book of Common Prayer psalter through daily use, and the Coverdale (Great Bible) psalter through choral singing.
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  • fcbfcb
    Posts: 275
    Pretty much every literate person in the Middle Ages had the psalter memorized. In fact, memorizing the psalter was usually the first step in one's education in Latin. So to us it seems like an amazing feat, but to medieval people, who lived in a culture that had raised memorization to a high art, it was really quite an ordinary thing.

    I had a fair number of the Grail psalms committed to memory, simply by praying them so much in the Daily Office. Last year I switched to using the Abbey Psalms, to get a jumpstart on the new translation of the Liturgy of the Hours. I mourn the loss of those psalms I had memorized.
  • CatherineS
    Posts: 583
    Many people still memorize a lot of things - musical repertory, sacred texts, theater pieces, just for some.
    Thanked by 1avscvlta
  • avscvltaavscvlta
    Posts: 43
    One of my main gripes with the LOTH and Grail Psalms, is that they are printed in stophes. I guess that's because of the Hebrew poetry behind it. But I vastly prefer the couplet with daggers and asterisks. The couplet flow is so magical. So that would be one of my first considerations in choosing a permanent psalter for my life.
  • M. Jackson Osborn
    Posts: 7,851
    I appreciate the attempts at restoring the original Hebrew forms. They do, even, convey a somewhat more nuanced sense that our western verse forms do not. I read them for variety and to gain cultural depth - but always return to the Vulgate and Coverdale for their linguistic beauty and imagery - not that its rich imagery is Covrdale's only virtue, it is powerful language with an unparalleled flow. Ir has no peer in the English language. I've seen few, very few modern translations that don't stingily use as few words as absolutely possible, and composes those that they do in as clunky, graceless, and unimaginative manner as possible. Some of them are downright comutereque.
    Thanked by 2avscvlta CHGiffen
  • a_f_hawkins
    Posts: 2,406
    The psalms are not all written in the same pattern, but many are in couplets. The non-US version of the Office had no difficulty in printing the Grail psalms in strophes but including the daggers and asterisks as well. Thus facilitating singing antiphonally Ⱥ ℣ ℣ Ⱥ ℣ ℣ Ⱥ ↺ for psalms where that is appropriate.
  • avscvltaavscvlta
    Posts: 43
    As for choosing between the vulgate or the new vulgate... I wonder which of those traditions will win out over time. Five hundred years from now, will the majority of latin liturgical celebrations still be based on Jerome's vulgate, as now? Or will the original languages vulgate tradition become the norm?
  • I think St. Jerome will win.
    Thanked by 1MatthewRoth
  • avscvltaavscvlta
    Posts: 43
    The 2811 Graduale Romanum, the 2832 Antiphonale Monasticum, and the 2848 Antiphonale Romanum will all be based on the traditional vulgate.
  • a_f_hawkins
    Posts: 2,406
    avscvlta If so there will still be people holding out for the older tradition of Dum complerentur rather than Cum complerentur.
  • Jehan_Boutte
    Posts: 140
    @M. Jackson Osborn,

    I also like to rely on the Coverdale psalter because of it's perfect use of English. I do however regret the fact it seems to follow the Hebrew text quite closely, at the risk of eschewing some christological figures in the Psalter. For instance, psalm 109 (110), verse 3 reads as follows :
    "Tecum principium in die virtutis tuae, in splendoribus sanctorum, ex utero, ante luciferum genui te".

    Which I translate (very poorly) as follows:
    "To thee belongs the beginning in the day of thy might, among the splendor of the saints, from my bosom, before the light of the morning, I beget thee".

    Yet, Coverdale translates as follows:
    "In the day of thy power shall the people offer thee free-will offerings with an holy worship : the dew of thy birth is of the womb of the morning".

    Here, he seems to follow the Hebrew more than the Greek/Latin text, which tends to put aside the christological meaning of this verse.

    Having said that, I agree there is no equivalent of the Coverdale Psalter when it comes to English. I wish we had such a Psalter in French (the best ones are from the Eastern Orthodox).
    Thanked by 1CHGiffen