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.





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