Saturday, 22 November 2014

Praying the Psalms (Part One)

Image: Chris Webb
I pray the Psalms every day; it's become my spiritual food and drink. Folks are sometimes curious what that looks like, so I thought I might share a little about it.

I follow a classic monastic pattern of Psalm praying, which essentially amounts to focused bursts of prayer peppered throughout the day to keep the heart centred on the Lord. There are a number of traditional 'hours' of prayer kept by most Benedictines:

Vigils (or Matins), a longer period of prayer at the very beginning of the day including both psalms and readings.
Lauds, slightly later in the morning, briefer psalms with a focus on praise.
Terce, Sext and None, three very short periods of psalm praying during the working day.
Vespers, an evening prayer to complement Lauds, focused on praying for the circumstances presented by the day.
Compline, a 'closing of the day' time with a brief psalm or two before bed.

Over time these services became rather complex, ornate, and very beautiful. But also quite long - Vigils with all the psalms chanted slowly and readings read reflectively can easily take an hour. My own prayer focuses on what have become the three key elements for me: praying the psalms themselves, meditating on the Gospels, and my own prayer. So I use Vigils to begin the day with Psalm prayer and some Gospel meditation. The other 'hours' I'll often only pray the Psalms; if I have time (especially at Vespers) I come back to the Gospel again, and add some personal prayer of my own.

The rhythm of Psalms I use day by day is that used by a number of Benedictine communities around the world, and follows a two week pattern. Each week includes about two thirds of the Psalter; every two weeks the whole Psalter is covered, with some Psalms used more than once. I'm appending the First Week to this post, and I'll add the Second Week to another post on Monday.

Love to hear your thoughts on all this. How do you pray? Do you ever use the Psalms? If so, how's that been helpful to you?

* * *

Praying the Psalms: First Week

Sunday
Vigils: 24 • 2 • 68 • 72  |  Lauds: 93 • 19 • 150
Terce: 119.1-32  |  Sext: 20 • 21  |  None: 1 • 128
Vespers: 113 • 118 • 117  |  Compline: 91

Monday
Vigils: 67 • 49 • 14 • 35  |  Lauds: 96 • 5 • 135
Terce: 119.33-56  |  Sext: 140  |  None: 86
Vespers: 112 • 8 • 145  |  Compline: 17

Tuesday
Vigils: 100 • 94 • 64 • 109  |  Lauds: 97 • 42-43 • 146
Terce: 119.57-80  |  Sext: 56  |  None: 41
Vespers: 115 • 27 • 46  |  Compline: 71

Wednesday
Vigils: 29 • 37 • 15  |  Lauds: 98 • 80 • 147.12-20
Terce: 119.81-104  |  Sext: 82 • 129  |  None: 40
Vespers: 104 • 65  |  Compline: 102

Thursday
Vigils: 122 • 75 • 12 • 44  |  Lauds: 99 • 26 • 148
Terce: 119.105-128  |  Sext: 52 • 127  |  None: 73
Vespers: 111 • 87 • 48  |  Compline: 62

Friday
Vigils: 95 • 54 • 38  |  Lauds: 76 • 51 • 149
Terce: 119.129-152  |  Sext: 22  |  None: 79
Vespers: 116 • 126 • 85  |  Compline: 31

Saturday
Vigils: 81 • 105  |  Lauds: 47 • 92 • 147.1-11
Terce: 119.153-176  |  Sext: 9-10  |  None: 120 • 123
Vespers: 114 • 103 • 136  |  Compline: 133 • 131 • 134

No comments:

Post a Comment