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Psalms

The Psalms form a sort of alphabet or primary vocabulary of our spiritual life. In them, we can find emotions from joy, through gratitude, to doubt, and despair. We can see them expressing different aspects of our spiritual journey. And we can use them to express our relationship with God.

The Psalms are prayed daily by monks, nuns, and others. They form the foundation of a lot of our hymns. And as we sing them, chant them, pray them, read them we are regularly encountering emotions and realities that may not be our current experience, but they have been in the past or might be in the future.

It is as if we are exercising – making sure that all our muscles are fit and healthy. Even the ones we aren’t currently using day to day.

To keep it simple, there have been two traditions of praying the psalms: “monastic” (starting at Psalm 1 and working through in sequence to 150) and “cathedral” (using {a} psalm{s} appropriate to the time of day, feast, or church season). Many ways of praying the psalms, of course, are a combination of these two approaches.

I have been praying the Psalms in different ways for decades. But in the form of the Office I follow, I could end up not using a certain psalm or psalms – or using some very rarely.

A friend of mine, aware of this, has recently returned to Cranmer’s division of the Psalms to work through them once a month. Another person I know prays his office by merely picking up the Psalter and working through from where he last left off for as much time as he has.

What do you do? What might you do?

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