Monday, November 16, 2015

The Rule of Saint Benedict: Chapter 18

This next chapter is not as short as the other ones that we have recently had. This chapter is a little lengthy, but it is not that long. Believe it or not, but I actually enjoy typing out the longer chapters; it makes me feel like I've worked at the blog post.

Chapter 18. The Order of the Psalmody

  1. Each day hours begins with the verse, God, come to my assistance; Lord, make haste to help me (Ps 69 [70]:2), followed by "Glory be to the Father" and the appropriate hymn. 
  2. Then, on Sunday at Prime, four sections of Psalm 118 are said. 
  3. At the other hours, that is, at Terce, Sext, None, three sections of this psalm are said. 
  4. On Monday, three psalms are said at Prime: Psalm 1,2 and 6. 
  5. At Prime each day thereafter until Sunday, three psalms are said in consecutive order as far as Psalm 19. Psalms 9 and 17 are each divided into two sections. 
  6. In this way, Sunday vigils can always begin with Psalm 20. 
  7. On Monday at Terce, Sext, and None, the remaining nine sections of Psalms 118 are said, three sections at each hour. 
  8. Psalm 118 is thus completed in two days, Sunday and Monday. 
  9. On Tuesday, three psalms are said at each of the hours of Terce, Sext, and None. These are the nine psalms, 119 through 127. 
  10. The same psalms are repeated at the hours daily up to Sunday. Likewise, the arrangement of hymns, readings, and versicles for these days remains the same. 
  11. In this way, Psalm 118 will always being on Sunday. 
  12. Four Psalms are sung each day at Vespers, 
  13. starting with Psalm 109 and ending with Psalm 147, 
  14. omitting the psalms in this series already assigned to other hours, namely, Psalms 117 through 127, Psalm 133, and Psalm 142. 
  15. All the remaining psalms are said at Vespers. 
  16. Since this leaves three psalms too few, the longer ones in the series should be divided: that is, Psalms 138, 143, and 144. 
  17. And because Psalm 116 is short, it can be joined to Psalm 115. 
  18. This is the order of psalms for Vespers; the rest is as arranged above: the reading, responsory, hymn, versicle, and canticle. 
  19. The same psalms―4, 90 and 133―are said each day at Compline. 
  20. The remaining psalms not accounted for in this arrangement for the day hours are distributed evenly at Vigils over the seven nights of the week. 
  21. Longer psalms are to be divided so that twelve psalms are said each night. 
  22. Above all else we urge that if anyone finds this distribution of the psalms unsatisfactory, he should arrange whatever he judges better, 
  23. provided that the full complement of one hundred and fifty psalms is by all means carefully maintained every week, and that the series begins anew each Sunday at Vigils. 
  24. For monks who in a week's time say less than the full Psalter with the customary canticles betray extreme indolence and lack of devotion in their service. 
  25. We read, after all, that our holy Fathers, energetic as they were, did all this in a single day. Let us hope that we, lukewarm as we are, can achieve it in a whole week.
So we notice in this chapter, especially at the end, that all of the psalms are said throughout the week. Not only that, but Saint Benedict tells us that our earlier Fathers did the whole of Psalms in one day. 

This reading of the Psalter in a whole week was facilitated in the Byzantine Rite by breaking all 150 Psalms into 20 sections which are known as Kathismata. The Psalms are read in Orthros/Matins and at Vespers. However, duirng Great Lent, kathisma readings are added to the Hours in conjunction with Orthros and Vespers and this causes all 150 Psalms to be read twice in one week.

I first reached out to become a novice oblate before Great Lent and was told that I needed to seek my priests approval. He told me that before I became a novice oblate that he wanted me to come to the parish to read the hours in a proper setting to learn how to do it. So I went, during Great Lent. After my first time my throat was quite dry from all of the reading that I did. It was a fun and enjoyable experience, though.
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