"In verbo veritatis" (2 Cor 6:7)

March 28, 2019

Hearing ourselves sing

Here is another example of Augustine’s urging his people to recognize themselves in the voice or voices of the Psalms.

The exulting members of Christ sing this Psalm (Ps 123[124]). And here below who exults except out of hope? If this is our sure hope, then we too can sing with exultation. For the people singing are not strangers to us; it’s not as if in this Psalm we do not hear our own voices. Listen to it in such a way that you can hear yourselves; listen to it as if you were looking at yourselves in the mirror of the Scriptures. When you look at the Scriptures as if at a mirror, your face brightens: when in your exultant hope you find yourself like those members of Christ who sang these things, you too will be among them these members and you too will be singing them. [Augustine, EnPs 123,3; PL 37:1641])

I wonder if we shouldn’t make more of an effort to get our congregations of worshippers to pay attention to the Responsorial Psalm at Mass, to recognize themselves and their voices in them. I know I hardly ever preach about the Psalms used in our worship; in fact, in reading over the readings to prepare a homily for a particular day, I often skip right over the Responsorial Psalm, sometimes not even reading it.  I suspect that we would need to give a major catechesis on how to pray the Psalms and in particular how to pray them with their christological and ecclesiological resonances in mind. As sung at Mass, for example, “Jerusalem” is not a city in Israel.

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