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A few BCC parishes chant psalms during communion; my own parish uses para-liturgical hymns mostly. Where a psalm is chanted, the cantor chants a verse, then the congregation chants a threefold alleluia. I would be interested in knowing what translation of the psalter is used (authorized?) for chanting the psalms; ALSO, whether there is a specific selection process for which psalms are used; AND, what tones are selected for use for the verses and alleluias.

Jim Sprinkle, Cantor
St. Thomas BCC, Gilbert, AZ

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At my parish, we use Psalm 33:

Cantor: I will bless the Lord at all times, His praise shall continually be on my lips.

Choir/ Congregation: Alleluia (3x)

We do that until everyone has finished going to Communion.

For the last verse, after the priest walks back to the Altar, we finish with this:

Cantor: Glory be to the Father..... forever and ever. Amen.

Choir/Congregation: Alleluia (3x)


I'd say we do this once or twice a month. It's usually in Ukrainian, but if it is a combined service, we will alternate verses in both languages. As far as the tone, I don't know what it is called exactly. It resembles the Galician Akafist chant.

If I find the melody on the web, I'll post it here.

-uc

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Jim,

I believe the currently accepted version is the 1963 Translaion of the Grail Psalter. There is a very nice hardbound copy available on Amazon, but a bit cumbersome to carry around. The Psalm I have found most used in the Pittsburgh area is Ps. 148 (below). The chant melody depends on which version of the Cherubic Hymn used. I suggest you contact Prof. Thompson to see if he can mail you notations or .pdf files.

- Hank


PSALM 148

1 Praise the Lord from the heavens,
praise him in the heights.
2 Praise him, all his angels,
praise him, all his host.

3 Praise him, sun and moon,
praise him, shining stars.
4 Praise him, highest heavens
and the waters above the heavens.

5 Let them praise the name of the Lord.
He commanded: they were made.
6 He fixed them for ever,
gave a law which shall not pass away.

7 Praise the Lord from the earth,
sea creatures and all oceans,
8 fire and hail, snow and mist,
stormy winds that obey his word;

9 all mountains and hills,
all fruit trees and cedars,
10 beasts, wild and tame,
reptiles and birds on the wing;

11 all earth's kings and peoples,
earth's princes and rulers,
12 young men and maidens,
the old men together with children.

13 Let them praise the name of the Lord
for he alone is exalted.
The splendor of his name
reaches beyond heaven and earth.

14 He exalts the strength of his people.
He is the praise of all his saints,
of the sons of Israel,
of the people to whom he comes close.

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AFAIK there is currently no official directive on which Scriptural texts are to be taken for the psalms. Generally speaking, it is clear that the Grail Psalms are preferred (and I add that they should be the 1963 edition since the later revision with inclusive language is not approved for Catholic worship). In addition, the current translations of liturgical text do draw from the Revised Standard Version; Catholic Edition so there would surely not be anything incorrect in using the RSV-CE. Also, the New American Bible (1970s edition) is also in general use.

Paulist Press republished the 1963 version in a nice ~5�x8� paperback that I myself use.

As far as how to take the psalms there are many accepted methods. There is a tradition of singing the Communion Hymns to podoben and other melodies. I advocate simplicity. Most parishes sing the Communion Hymn (�Praise, you, the Lord of the heavens�.) according to the same melody used for the Cherubic Hymn. I recommend singing the verses almost on a single note (in the same key as the Communion Hymn) with the people singing the �Alleluia!� refrain. I have also heard some cantors sing the entire verse to the melody used for the Communion Hymn. That can be awkward since the Communion Hymn melodies do not always lend themselves to the longer psalm texts.

There is room for diversity here, so long as whoever is chanting the verses can be fully understood by the gathered Church.

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I was able to find a reference to the Grail Psaltir on the Cantor's Institute website. It said that the Inter-eparchial Liturgical Commission uses it. It did not say which edition, etc. Probably Fr. Pipta in San Diego will be able to pin down an edition for use in our eparchy for me next week when I'm there. (I tried to reach Prof. Thompson by email, then by phone.)

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From last week's additions to the MCI WebSite:

The Psalter: [metropolitancantorinstitute.org]

Quote
In 1921, the Greek Catholic Union published an edition of the L'vov Psalt�r of 1871. Each of the 150 psalms was presented in Slavonic, and in a parallel English translation taken from the Douai-Rheims Bible. The introductory material, kathisma prayers, and Scriptural canticles were included, but not translated into English. This edition can sometimes be found in used book stores, and is available online courtesy of Patronage of the Mother of God Catholic Church, Baltimore, Maryland.

In 1972, Dr. John P. Weisengoff and Father Joseph Shary prepared a new English translation of the L'vov Psalt�r, including the introduction, prayers, and Scriptural canticles. This translation was published in 1985 by the St. Joseph's Institute of Detroit, Michigan, and also included a translation of a supplement taken from the Psalt�r printed by the Basilian Fathers at �ovka Psalter of 1904. The supplement contains a commentary on the Psalms and their use in the Divine Liturgy and other services, as well as a large collection of antiphons, prokeimena, alleluia and communion verses, arranged according to their liturgical use.

The Grail Psalter, an 1963 English translation of the psalms arranged for chanting, is used (with some accomodation to the Septuagint, and Byzantine liturgical practice) by Inter-Eparchial Liturgy Commission of the Byzantine Catholic Church. The Abbey Psalter prepared by the Trappist monks of Genesee Abbey Abbey is a particularly beautiful hand-lettered edition of the Book of Psalms, suitable for use at the cantor's stand if the kathisma divisions are added.
I hope to add some text next week on the major Orthodox translations of the Psalter into English, as well as on the Communion Hymns. (I don't know anyone using podobny, though; the traditional practice is to use the melody of the Cherubic Hymn from the same service; this is what is done in the proposed service book, and taught in the Cantor Institute.) I hope the above answers your questions, Jim.

Yours in Christ,
Jeff Mierzejewski

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Jeff, your message with those of UC, Zeeker, and our esteemed Administrator answer my questions. Thanks everyone for your help. I will want to get Fr. Pipta's confirmation of which source to use in our eparchy (There are a couple of editions available from Amazon.) before doing the chanting as suggested. I could even chant 2 lines of a psalm in the Uzghorod (sp?) psalm tone, and have the congregation sing the same alleluia as in the communion hymn itself. That way the psalm itself wouldn't need to conform to whatever communion hymn melody we happen to be using that week. There is also less chance of a screw-up that way. It would be nice to be able to chant the entire psalter over time. (I wonder if I could do that. We do the Third Hour prior to Liturgy nowadays, too.)

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I have done singing the Psalm verses in plain chant as the Admin describes with the usual Alleluia refrain (in the proper tone if the people know it) as long as is necessary. Instead of one note I use a two-note (do up one step and back down at the end of the phrase) chant to the psalm verses so the people know when the end is.

I have also occasionally used the Pochaiv Akathist melody for Psalm 33, which works well and is both easily picked up and harmonized. Another melody which works well for a psalm refrain is the "Kyivan Matins Chant" (that's what it is called in Ukrainian or Slavonic and what Fr. Peter Galadza called it when he taught our diaconal class). This is a simple 2-part alternating three-note melody that is also easily harmonized and picked up.

As to text, HTM is most often used but the newer OCA text is starting to see some use.
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Jeff, the current "Abbey Psalter" is listed on line as being published in 1981. Do you know if it uses the 1963 translation of the Grail psalms? Does it avoid inclusive language?

Mr. Administrator, is the 1963 paperback version you mentioned the one readily available for purchase on line from Paulist Press?

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The Abbey Psalter uses the uninclusive Grail Psalter. You can see a sample page at the Abbey website:
http://www.geneseeabbey.org/books-psalter.html

TO ORDER: The Abbey Psalter from the Abbey send a check for $39.95 plus $3.00 for shipping and handling to:

Bookstore
Abbey of the Genesee
3258 River Road
Piffard, NY 14533


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I received a mailing from MCI today concerning using psalms at communion with an example of Psalm 148. Enlightening.

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I wouldn't call the older Grail version "uninclusive" it is merely standard english - there was no effort to "exclude" people.

What I don't like about the Grail translation, old or new, is that it is basically a paraphrase (loose translation) and misses some of the words/terms that the Fathers would put some emphasis on. If you read the Fathers on the Psalms and used the Grail version as your text, you would not perceive some of the points the Fathers were trying to make. Besides, it is based on the Hebrew text, not on the Septuagint which is traditionally the official Psalter of the Church.

For example, Psalm 50 (Have mercy on me, O God) which is often used in the Byzantine Horologion, the Grail version goes: O purify me, then I shall be clean; O wash me, I shall be whiter than snow.

Thou shalt sprinkle me with hyssop, and I shall be made clean; Thou shall wash me, and I shall be made whiter than snow.

The Father's tooks seriously each word of the sacred texts and they sought out their fuller meaning. An analogy which might help to illustrate things is the "hyperlinked" word in a text. If one clicks on a hyperlinked word, one will be brought to another page with more information. In the phrase from Psalm 50 above a key word is hyssop. If we see hyssop as a hyperlinked word, we would click on it and be brought to 11 other occurances of the term hyssop in Scripture. Among them would be Exodus 12:22 & John 19:29. The Exodus text refers to the blood of the lamb being applied to the doorposts and lintels of the Hebrews' homes on the first Passover. The text from John refers to the soldier raising up a sponge soaked in vinegar using as sprig of hyssop that Christ might drink it on the Cross.

Hyssop - blood of the lamb - Christ on Cross - cleansing. There is a connection here. The old Testament Psalm verse (50:7) can then be seen in the light of New Testament revelation: Christ is the Lamb, in His blood we find purification. All this connection is not done merely in academic study but in prayer and meditation on the word of God.

Getting back to the Grail "translation": this version omits the term "hyssop" just to make things simple. But the Grail: "O purify me, then I shall be clean" is not the same as "sprinkle me with hyssop and I shall be made clean". Using the Grail text deprives us of a more accurate text with greater meaning.

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The Grail Pslater is a translation not a paraphrase, there is a difference. Even though it has problems from the LXX point of view every Psalter (even Orthodox ones)other than the Psalter of the Seventy by Holy Transfiguration Monastery makes poor translation sources avoiding difficult metaphors.


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Glory to Jesus Christ!

The Inter-Eparchial Liturgical Commission's use of the Grail is done with certain modifications to bring the text more in line with the Septuagint. It was with that proviso that the IELC got permission to use the Grail psalter in the Liturgicon and in the Faithful's Book.

Prof. J. Michael Thompson
Byzantine Catholic Seminary
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Professor,

I have seen this disclaimer in some of the books, but take for example Psalm 50(51), the most used Psalm in the Byzantine tradition. Byzantine liturgists have pointed out, as has Lazareno, that hyssop is an important word to conserve as well as vs 6: "in sins my mother conceived me." Which is the correct rendering of the LXX. I see no modifications to the Grail Psalter to retain either of these important differences in any of the newer liturgical materials. If no changes have been made to Psalm 50, which is used everyday at Matins, Third Hour, Compline, and Midnight and contains two important LXX renderings, one wonders if any changes were in fact made to help the Grail Psalter conform to the LXX Psalter. I think they really need to simply, as a start, retranslate the fixed Psalms of the services from the LXX, rather than rely on current transaltions based on the Masoretic text.

Fr. Deacon Lance


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