Friday, October 9, 2015


GIRM paragraph 61

Don't respond too quickly to that last Email.
Think about it first.  Mull it over.  What might have the sender meant?

That is (kind of) the purpose of the Responsorial Psalm.  It is called "responsorial" NOT because the cantor sings a line and then you respond with the antiphon (in fact, it is allowable for the psalm to be sung straight through without the call and response - though that is clearly not the preference) rather, its is designated thusly because it is responding to the first reading.  It is an opportunity to meditate on what was just proclaimed before just moving on to the next reading.  And since the first reading and the Gospel are always related, it helps tie the whole Liturgy of the Word together.  If you want to be a GREAT reader and not just an Okay one, figure out what the common theme is and find a way to emphasize it.

Unless one's goal is to "get in and out" as quickly as possible, the psalm should always be presented in a way that fosters meditation.  We as a Church always prefer it to be sung rather than recited.  In the United States we MAY, if it has so been approved by the bishops or our local Bishop, sing a psalm metrically set to music.  What is absolutely forbidden, however, is just to substitute a song for a psalm.  We are dealing with Scriptures here, not mere lyrics no matter how appropriate they may seem.  (Save songs for offertory.)

Think about Shakespeare for a moment.  His works have been performed hundreds of years.  The words and plots are aways the same but have been re-pesented in any number of imaginable ways.  I've seen casts of all women (excellently done I might add) perform his works.  I was once in a performance of Twelfth Night set at the turn of the century on the Texas/Mexican boarder.  (Try to find a body of water there for a boat to be shipwrecked.)  

For a much longer period of time - THOUSANDS of years these psalms have been sung to different tunes, different instruments, in different settings.  They are some of the best poetry ever written.  They have helped shape much of Western Culture.  They are in our blood!  Don't let them slip by too easily!

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