Saturday, June 28, 2008

Responsorial Psalm: Akward?

Ok so I've been going to the Daily Mass now since Tuesday and there is something I want to comment on. This really isn't related to this particular parish but the Ordinary Form in general. Being an Extra-Ordinary Catholic (heh heh...) there are few things about the Ordinary form that feel just a little out of place to me and so here goes...

I am mainly referring to the Responsorial Psalm. Sometimes the response is akward and to be honest, out of place. For example: Today's was a longer one: "Let my tongue be silenced if I even forget you!" It has an exclamation sign but we all said it in this strange drone kind of way. People only feel comfortable if they know what they are saying.

Personally, and since I pray the Divine Office, I find that the Psalms have their own rhythm without the re-occuring speed bump after every 3 or 4 lines. Its disconcerting. The Psalm used today is one of the most famous. (Super Flumina. Its beautiful, just read the whole thing below, in both languages.) It tells a narrative and I feel odd messing with it. (The new Liturgy of the Hours cuts the end because it may offend some people. ... )

DRBO of today's Psalm: I've highlighted the "Let my tongue" part, in the traditional form.

1 Upon the rivers of Babylon, there we sat and wept: when we remembered Sion: 2 On the willows in the midst thereof we hung up our instruments. 3 For there they that led us into captivity required of us the words of songs. And they that carried us away, said: Sing ye to us a hymn of the songs of Sion. 4 How shall we sing the song of the Lord in a strange land? 5 If I forget thee, O Jerusalem, let my right hand be forgotten.

6 Let my tongue cleave to my jaws, if I do not remember thee:[!] If I make not Jerusalem the beginning of my joy. 7 Remember, O Lord, the children of Edom, in the day of Jerusalem: Who say: Rase it, rase it, even to the foundation thereof. 8 O daughter of Babylon, miserable: blessed shall he be who shall repay thee thy payment which thou hast paid us. 9 Blessed be he that shall take and dash thy little ones against the rock.

Now here is the Vulgate from the Psalter. If you speak it out loud you will notice a rhythm written in for the Latin.

1 Super flumina Babylonis illic sedimus et flevimus cum recordaremur Sion 2 in salicibus in medio eius suspendimus organa nostra 3 quia illic interrogaverunt nos qui captivos duxerunt nos verba cantionum et qui abduxerunt nos hymnum cantate nobis de canticis Sion 4 quomodo cantabimus canticum Domini in terra aliena 5 si oblitus fuero tui Hierusalem oblivioni detur dextera mea

6 adhereat lingua mea [adhere my tongue] faucibus meis si non meminero tui si non praeposuero Hierusalem in principio laetitiae meae 7 memor esto Domine filiorum Edom diem Hierusalem qui dicunt exinanite exinanite usque ad fundamentum in ea 8 filia Babylonis misera beatus qui retribuet tibi retributionem tuam quam retribuisti nobis 9 beatus qui tenebit et adlidet parvulos tuos ad petram

Then there is the problem, if you miss what you have to say then yer out of luck until you find it in the missalette. By then its over anyway, so just put it down and move on. I suppose this is active participation?

By the way, I am loving the daily mass. This is a minor issue for me. I think in general it woule be better for the entire congregation to read the Gradual out loud, in unison, in its place. Just an idea.


japhy said...

I made a proposal a couple weeks ago that perhaps the responsorial psalm could be sung in a standard psalm tone, alternating between the cantor/choir and the people:

Perhaps a "common ground" could be found, whereby the Responsorial Psalm is sung by everyone in an antiphonal setting; that is, the antiphon, the verses all together, and the antiphon again. This does not seem to be precluded by the current GIRM. The choir would sing the antiphons on their own (which would have a more complex melody); then they would sing the first half of a verse (or pair of verses) and the congregation would complete the verse (or pair of verses), and so on, until the antiphon is reached, which would be sung by the choir alone. Standard psalm tones could be incorporated for the verses, of course. The only real trick to this, though, is that the faithful would need to know the words of the psalm to be sung, but this does not seem insurmountable. It might cost a bit in printing, but I think the liturgical and spiritual riches would outweigh the cost! I'm not thrilled by a lot of modern Responsorial Psalm settings that are overly (and overtly) repetitious as if to say to the faithful "this is all you're going to say, so say it a lot!" I am referring to "refrains" that simply say the same thing two or three times.

Moonshadow said...

Then there is the problem, if you miss what you have to say then yer out of luck until you find it in the missalette. By then its over anyway, so just put it down and move on. I suppose this is active participation?

You need a daily missal so you can follow along/keep up better?

It has an exclamation sign but we all said it in this strange drone kind of way.

Yup! Yup.

I am loving the daily mass.

I invite my non-Catholic Christian friends to Catholic mass on a regular basis and, as yet, no one has accepted my invitation ... not sure why, but if anyone ever does, I'd take them to a weekday service because the proceedings are direct, clear, unequivocal. There's no obfuscating what's happening, no matter how "invincibly ignorant" my companion may be.

I think the Mass is the best evangelistic tool Catholics have.

japhy said...

Using the daily missal or a missalette is only helpful if they're using the psalm proper to the day. During the weekdays, I've never seen it changed, but on weekends? 50/50 chance of a "seasonal" psalm being used.

And why on earth do we hear the SAME Alleluia verse every single week? That's just silly.

Matt said...


So far everyday I've been there has been a different Psalm. So I don't really understand what you mean. Also, EWTN has a different one each day.

I don't *need* a daily missal. But reading along helps me keep focused when listening to the vanilla language throughout the Mass. But my point in mentioning the missalette was for those who miss the response they are supposed to repeat.

Though I am getting graces from attending the ordinary daily, I would love it even more if I could make it to my own parish with the TLM 25mins away but the trip is too long in the mornings. However at least then I could use my Baronius missal more than twice a week...

Matt said...

Perhaps a subscription to Magnificat would be a good idea?

Moonshadow said...

He means a substitution, like happens on Sunday.

Magnificat? Can't you get a free copy in the back of the church?

japhy said...

Sorry, Matt, I was unclear.

Some parishes don't use the psalm found in the Missal/missalette but use a seasonal one (or one of their own choosing). I've never seen that happen for daily Masses (since the psalm is usually read straight from the Lectionary by the reader), but it happens often at Sunday Masses.

Matt said...

I've also never been to a parish that used a seasonal psalm. Wow, what a shame. To think they could make it even LESS good than it already is.

Matt said...

I mean, "never been to one that had a seasonal psalm for Sundays."

Matt said...

"Magnificat? Can't you get a free copy in the back of the church?"

There aren't any. I've never seen any copies in a church. I was out running errands today so I stopped at the Guild (local Catholic shop) and they only had copies for August. They said they are so popular that they are sold out within a week of getting the new edition.

They were also out of the cheap daily missals. Oh well.

"The whole truth is generally the ally of virtue; a half-truth is always the ally of some vice." - G.K. Chesterton