Wanted: Resources for Chanting the Psalter

This is a call out to Pray Tell participants for suggested resources for chanting the psalms daily.

One of my spiritual directees has for some time been praying the hours at home with his wife and daughters using eight or so Gregorian tones, but at this point would like to add other chant tones, such as those he has appreciatively encountered at various Benedictine monasteries in the USA. He desires a psalter (or similar psalm collection) that includes the chant tones above the psalm texts (that is, not just the words, as in The Revised Grail Psalms, Singing Version [GIA/Conception Abbey]).

I hope my request for suggestions here is adequately clear. My friend and his family belong to a Church of Christ community (Stone Campbell Movement) and, so, is not in need of a Roman Catholic hymnal with Mass chants and such. That said, if there were to be such hymnals that include a strong set of psalmody with chant lines that would thoroughly serve Morning and Evening Prayer, I’m sure he’d be grateful to look into them.

Well, my friend’s inquiry has left me “as lost as a Jesuit in Holy Week,” albeit with an ecumenical, Nashville-based twist. Perhaps my open ignorance here will generate some replies educative of not only this Jesuit theologian and his Protestant friend but some other folks as well. Thanks, in advance!

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14 comments

  1. I regularly use the Briggs and Frere “Manual of Plainsong.” It gives the old Anglican Coverdale translation of the Psalms. It utilizes all 8 Gregorian tones with all their endings. Someone has digitized and organized it on this website:http://old.www.lithoi.org.uk/church/mop/mop.html Obviously not a Roman Catholic approved translation (but this post doesn’t call for that), but it is a very easy to use resource and you could use the Briggs and Frere editing of the tones for any Psalm translation.

  2. I think The Mundelein Psalter might be the thing he’s looking for.

    I hope that any future translation of the LOH would point the psalms and canticles and include some simple tones for chanting them. Even when reciting the hours by myself (which is my norm) I usually sing the invitatory, hymn, responsory, and gospel canticle.

  3. I like St Dunstan’s Plainsong Psalter from Andrewes Press, but I couldn’t say whether it’s authorized, being an Anglican resource.

  4. A couple of resources that match your description that I would recommend are:

    Lauds and Vespers published by the Camaldolese Monks of Big Sur, CA. The two week psalter (1993 Grail) includes musical settings for each of the psalms and their antiphons. This is very much a psalter, as readings, intercessions, and collects are not included in this volume.

    Pray without Ceasing edited by Joyce Ann Zimmerman. This book is a bit thicker than Lauds and Vespers, as it provides more seasonal options. Intercessions and collets are included, but not readings. Everything is set to music, including antiphons, psalms, and intercessions. The psalter is a translation specifically for this volume and is arranged in a two week cycle.

    I agree with the other commenters that the Mundelein Psalter is an excellent resource as well, but I think that those listed above might be a better fit for your particular situation.

    I truly believe that praying the daily Office is a powerful force for building up the unity of Church, and I hope that more will take up the task!

  5. I have used the Mundelein Psalter for both individual and group prayer (including groups of 600+ people). It meets the criterion of having the tone printed above the psalm. It’s a little sparse on the tones it makes available. Not that that’s a bad thing; in situations where people who don’t normally pray together come together for a one-time or occasional prayer, it’s a tremendous resource. And perhaps a lot of people don’t want a great variety of tones.

    FWIW, and I expect some people will sneer at this (as I’ve been sneered at elsewhere for what I’m about to describe :-)) but it works for me: I use the one-volume Christian Prayer for my daily LotH. It includes three sets of psalm tones, totaling 21 different tones, that can be used with any or all of the psalms, canticles and responsories. It’s not problem-free (and I hope, if new editions are forthcoming as the texts themselves are promulgated in new translations, those problems will be addressed) but by and large it works very well, and the variety is welcome. It doesn’t tether a particular text to a particular tone.

  6. A quick note on questions/doubts about the Coverdale psalter being approved for Catholic use — the Divine Office in the Ordinariate Use uses the Coverdale Psalter (optionally in its 30-day course as originally set out by heresiarch Cranmer), so it is now “Roman Catholic approved.”

    Realized ecumenism!

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