Responsorial Psalms: One of My Favorite Parts of Being Catholic

Okay.  So, I realize that having a daily responsorial Psalm is not distinctively Catholic.  A number of other liturgically oriented communities also have these; I say good for them.  They help to keep worship from becoming stagnant or monolithic.  I have been a music leader in various congregations and for various age groups (I am a very amateur musician).  And, I have often wondered – Where are the songs of lament?

I think that having a daily Psalm or at least a weekly Psalm helps to keep me in contact with the lament aspect of faith and worship (in addition to having a Penitential Rite).  I am reminded that it is okay to get mad and ask difficult questions like “Why have you forsaken me?”  It protects me from always having to sing happy songs or songs that do nothing but praise God.

I do not often comment on the Psalms for the day, unless I think there is some interesting or pertinent issue there.  I think the reason for this is that I do not want to over analyze them and lose much of the feeling that they evoke.  Yet they are one of my favorite parts of being Catholic (or at least being part of a liturgically oriented community).

If you are interested in a translation of the Psalms that tries to bring some aspects of the Hebrew poetry into English, you might check out Robert Alter’s.  HERE is an article in Slate where he describes his work.


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