The practice of singing the psalms, greatly varied among the many Jewish and Christian traditions. Strictly speaking, the term would encompass many musical settings of partial psalm texts designated otherwise: hymns, motets, anthems, and propers of Eucharistic liturgies and the divine offices that contain single verses of psalms within larger structures. Byzantine rite churches rarely sing entire psalms, but combine parts of them with other sacred texts, troparia. More commonly "psalmody" refers to the singing of complete psalms, which may be categorized broadly into chanted psalms (without meter) and metrical psalms. In the Jewish Temple, professional singers, the Levites, chanted psalms to instrumental accompaniment. In synagogues, the music seems to have been simpler, and in any case instruments were banned after the destruction of the Temple in A. D. 70. In the course of morning, afternoon, and evening services, 50 psalms would be chanted each day. The Talmud implies three methods of chanting psalms: direct, in which each verse is sung by the soloist or choir without differentiation; responsorial, which alternates the cantor with the choir; and antiphonal, which alternates halves of the choir. Certain responsorial practices indicated in Talmudic literature might facilitate congregational participation: the repetition of each verse after the soloist, known as lining out when used in English-speaking Protestant communities in the 17th century; singing "Hallelujah" after each verse; the use of a congregational refrain from the first verse, or from an external text. This last method is reported also by St. Augustine among Christian congregations and has been revived for modern Roman Catholic masses since 1970. This responsorial psalm occurs between the first two Scripture readings, replacing the Gradual of the old rite.
   Hebrew, Masoretic,
       and English Bible
                  Septuagint, Vulgate (Latin)
   1–8            1–8
   9, 10          9
   11–113         10–112
   114, 115       113
   116 vv.1–9     114
   116 vv.10–19   115
   117–146        116–145
   147 vv.1–11    146
   147 vv.12–29   147
   148–150        148–150
   Christian monastics also made psalmody central in liturgy. The Rule of St. Benedict prescribed the singing of the entire Psalter (150 psalms) each week through the eight daily liturgies of the divine of-fice. In the Gregorian tradition, each psalm is preceded by a proper antiphon whose text refers to the feast or saint commemorated on that day and whose musical mode determines the specific psalm tone for the psalmody. At the psalm’s conclusion, the minor doxology is sung to the same tone, thus further Christianizing the Old Testament psalm, and then the antiphon is repeated.
   Chanted psalmody is nearly always monophonic since a simultaneity of independent melodies would require measured durations of notes, therefore converting the chanted psalm into a metrical psalm. An exception occurs in Claudio Monteverdi’s Vespers of 1610, in which a choir chants certain sub-phrases of Psalm 110 in harmony of up to five voices before ending the phrase in measured time. A similar, though much simpler, technique may be heard in Anglican chant. In modern Catholic liturgies, the antiphons are usually metric and harmonized with functional harmony in order to facilitate quick learning by the congregation.

Historical dictionary of sacred music. . 2006.


Look at other dictionaries:

  • Psalmody — Psal mo*dy, n. [Gr. ?; ? psalm + ? a song, an ode: cf. F. psalmodie, LL. psalmodia. See {Psalm}, and {Ode}.] The act, practice, or art of singing psalms or sacred songs; also, psalms collectively, or a collection of psalms. [1913 Webster] …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • psalmody — [säm′ə dē, sal′mədē] n. [ME psalmodye < LL(Ec) psalmodia < Gr psalmōdia < psalmos (see PSALM) + ōidē, song (see ODE)] 1. the act, practice, or art of singing psalms 2. psalms collectively 3. the arrangement of psalms for singing… …   English World dictionary

  • psalmody — psalmodic /sah mod ik, sal /, psalmodical, psalmodial /sah moh dee euhl, sal /, adj. psalmodist, n. /sah meuh dee, sal meuh /, n., pl. psalmodies. 1. the act, practice, or art of setting psalms to music. 2. psalms or hymns collectively. 3. the… …   Universalium

  • psalmody — noun Etymology: Middle English psalmodie, from Anglo French, from Late Latin psalmodia, from Late Greek psalmōidia, literally, singing to the harp, from Greek psalmos + aidein to sing more at ode Date: 14th century 1. the act, practice, or art of …   New Collegiate Dictionary

  • psalmody — noun a) The singing or the writing of psalms. b) A collection of psalms. See Also: psalmodist …   Wiktionary

  • Psalmody — It is the book of church hymns. We have an annual Psalomdy, and another for Kiahk , i.e. used during the month of Kiahk which comes right before Christmas …   Dictionary of church terms

  • psalmody — act of singing psalms in church services Ecclesiastical Terms …   Phrontistery dictionary

  • psalmody — psal·mo·dy || sÉ‘(l)mÉ™dɪ / sælmÉ™dɪ n. reading from the Book of Psalms; singing of sacred songs …   English contemporary dictionary

  • psalmody — [ sα:mədi, salm ] noun the singing of psalms or similar sacred canticles. ↘psalms arranged for singing. Derivatives psalmodic adjective psalmodist noun Origin ME: via late L. from Gk psalmōidia singing to a harp …   English new terms dictionary

  • psalmody — n. Psalm singing, psalmistry …   New dictionary of synonyms

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