Everybody's Got One
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Friday, February 28, 2003


In conjunction with readings from Sirach this past week, on two days the appointed psalm and responsory have been from Psalm 119, the wisdom psalm. Well and good. But for reasons that utterly escape me, the responsory comes after every two lines – for this psalm alone. Usually, four lines are proclaimed, or six, making a complete thought, and then the congregation responds with a single line. But not the 119th . Two lines – a terse couplet – and then the rhythm of the reading is broken.

The 119th is a very different psalm from all the others. Twenty-two stanzas of sixteen lines each, one for each letter of the Hebrew alphabet, with acrostic beginnings to each line and each successive couplet reinforcing the others. The point is less the individual stanzas, much less the individual couplets, than the multilayered unity and structure of the whole. Which is completely destroyed by the way it's fragmented into the smallest possible pieces when it's used in the daily readings. Which frustrates me immesnsely and pisses me off.

I cannot fathom why the Church in its wisdom chooses to do things this way.

posted by Kelly | 11:58 AM link