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Versicles And Psalms

Before the Psalms begin there is an injunction to praise the Lord
exchanged between the Minister and the People. Four other Versicles
and Gloria Patri are interposed after the Lord's Prayer--all in the
form of Verse and Respond.

Ps. li. 15 is the Psalmist's grateful cry when his sin was
forgiven and his praises began to break forth.

Ps. lxx. 1 supplies the second couplet.

The Gloria Patri follows these Psalm verses.

The Venite exultemus Domino, briefly called Venite, is the 95th
Psalm. The Rubric provides that it is to be said every day, but not
twice on the 19th day[1]. It is the first of the Morning Psalms, and
formerly was sung with an Anthem (see Chapter XIII.) which was known as
the Invitatory, and varied with the Season.

Antiphonal, i.e. alternate, singing dates from the services described
in 1 Chronicles vi. 31-33, 39, 44, from which it appears that there
were three choirs of singers--one in the centre, and one on either
hand. Thus the interchange of replies from either side and a chorus of
all the voices were provided, 1 Chron. xvi. 7-9 makes it clear that the
Psalms were sung, as indeed the word Psalm (from Gr. psallo, I sing)
implies. See also Neh. xii. 24.

The Authorised Version (A.V.) of the Bible is a translation made at the
beginning of James I.'s reign, after the Hampton Court Conference (Jan.
1604). It was published in 1611 with a title-page stating that it was
"appointed to be read in churches." There is, however, no evidence of
any formal adoption of it until the statement made in the Preface of
the {41} Prayer Book (1662) that "such portions of Holy Scripture as
are inserted into the Liturgy," "in the Epistles and Gospels
especially, and in sundry other places . . . are now ordered to be read
according to the last Translation." It is evident that this "last
Translation" is the Version of 1611: for the Epistles and Gospels are
quoted from it in the Prayer Book of 1662. The Translation of 1611,
then, is that from which are to be taken "such portions of Holy
Scripture as are inserted into the Liturgy." This appears to be the
general rule of the Prayer Book of 1662. But that Prayer Book gives
authority to various exceptions. The most notable of these is the
provision, in a footnote to The order how the Psalter is appointed to
be read, "that the Psalter followeth the division of the Hebrews and
the translation of the great English Bible, set forth and used in the
time of King Henry the Eighth and Edward the Sixth."

If it be asked why the words of the Psalms should be sung as in the
Great Bible when other translations have superseded it for Lessons,
there is an easy answer. Books were not cheap or common in the 16th
and 17th centuries. Many people had sung them so often as to know them
by heart. A comparison of the Bible and Prayer Book translations will
show that there was no large gain to be set against the loss of
congregational worship which must have resulted from changes. The
Bishops' Bible supplanted the Great Bible in 1568, and the Authorised
Version was made in 1611. Both in 1604 and in 1662 the Revisers
decided to retain the Version of 1539-40 (the Great Bible) so far as
the Psalms and Canticles {42} were sung in the Churches. This is
plainly not an oversight in 1662, for the Revisers altered the words of
the note in the Preface, without changing the sense.

Next: Psalms In Daily Services

Previous: The Ladder Of Praise

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