Commentaries on the Proposed Table of Contents
for a new comprehensive English-language edition, currently in production.
As a guiding principle, the contents of a new comprehensive edition should meet the requirements for the primary practical (and historical) uses of the Psalter:
Four primary uses of the Psalter:
1) For the "continuous Psalmody" in the public worship services; i.e. the appointed schedule of Kathismata readings (with each Kathisma divided into three Stases).
2) As a form of private prayer, used when reading the Psalter in the cells as a form of prayer rule (pravilo). There are special troparia and prayers which accompany this order of prayer, with a special dismissal commemorating King David. (It is interesting to note that these sets of troparia and prayers are quite different in the Old and New Russian Rites, and are altogether missing in Greek Psalters!)
3) To accompany prayers for the Departed. (According to traditional texts, it refers to "singing" the Psalter for the Dead.) This has several practical applications, but in general there is a "received" order of prayer for the departed, including the Psalter, prayers after each each Kathisma (or Statis), and a Canon for the Reposed (singular or plural). There is also a tradition of reading the Psalter for the reposed for 40 days, called "Sorokoustie" in Russian.
4) To replace the public worship services, either alone in the cells or publicly, by means of reading portions of the Psalter. (This is especially practical in skete life and other situations where a full set of service books is not available.) The Order of the 12 Psalms, dating from the early period of the Church, is intended to fulfill this function. (This is not a form of "Cell Rule", but a replacement for the canonical offices of Vespers, Compline, Midnight Office, Matins and Hours; the Cell Rule should still to be observed, even when the 12 Psalms are observed.)
Secondary uses of the Psalter are:
a) to privide didactic material regarding the spiritual value of the psalms. — Most of the materials are derived from historically authentic patristic sources, but a few articles have been identified as medieval compositions to instruct the reader in various polemical teachings (especially regard the manner of making the Sign of the Cross and bows).
b) to provide the Biblical Odes for Matins (now used only in Great Lent in contemporary usage, but previously they were used throughout most of the year);
c) to provide the Selected Psalms and Magnifications (as well as the Lamentations in the Old Rite books); and
d) other bits of liturgical material that could very well be included in other books, but has been included as "filler material" (i.e., "off-topic" for the primary objectives of the Psalter).
- Items in italics (below) indicate suggestions for inclusion based on practical neeed.
- Items having text in blue have completed comments (although revisions to the comments may be forthcoming).
- The Psalter should contain material specifically from the New Rite Psalters; perhaps Old Rite materials could be appended at the end of the book, in a smaller typeface for economy.
The Psalter – Table of Contents
- The Athanasian Creed; About Christ
- Blessed Anastasius: Questions and Answers on Theology
- From the Exposition of Faith by St. Maximus: Brief Questions and Answers for All Orthodox Christians
- A Brief Explanation of the Form of the Sign of the Cross
- Excerpts from St. Basil
- x (I'm not sure what this item is)
- The Sayings of Augustine the Teacher and Others, from the Prologue, on the Power of the Psalms
- Blessed Theodoret: Commentary on the Fifth Psalm
- Possible other inclusions:
- The Letter of our Holy Father Athanasius, Archbishop of Alexandria, to Marcellinus, on the Interpretation of the Psalms
- Extract from St. John Chrysostom’s Panegyric on the Psalms
- A Rule of the Holy Fathers – The Rubrics for How the Psalter is to be Said Throughout the Whole Year
- Prayers Before Reading the Psalter
- This text is found in all editions of the Psalter and is standardized.
The Psalter and the Biblical Odes
- The Psalter Kathismata
- Include a note on "Why is the 17th Kathisma divided in half?"
- The Nine Biblical Ode (Canticles)
- The Biblical Odes for Great Lent
- The Biblical Odes for Weekdays
- The Biblical Odes for Feasts
- Troparia & Prayers for the Kathismata of the Psalter (awaiting permission to post)
- Половина молитв обращена к Иисусу Христу, именно: по каф. 1-й. 3, 5, 7, 9, 11, 13, 15, 17, и 19, а после остальных – к Божией Матери. Молитва по каф. 15 хотя с заглавием: к Господу нашему Ис. Христу, но написана Св. Духу, что ныне 3-я из вечерних – на сон грядущим.
Conclusion for Reading the Psalter
- Prayers after Reading (Some or All Kathismata of) the Psalter and the Canticles
- This text is found in all editions of the Psalter and is standardized.
- The Order For Reading the Psalter for Any Need (How to Read the Psalter - Prayer Rule)
- Reciting the Psalms is the oldest method of observing a daily prayer rule, both for monastics and laity. The holy fathers devised this rule with a set of standardized rubrics which will guide one to a balanced prayer rule of psalms, followed by hymns (troparia) and prayers for repentence (following each kathisma). (Note: This rule and the following rule for the departed are two entirely separate rules of prayer, each having their own objectives, and one should not mix these two together or create hybrid services to accomplish both goals at the same time.)
- How to Read the Psalter for the Departed
- There is no unified tradition for how to read the Psalter for the Reposed, but all agree that prayers are said after every stasis and after every kathisma. In researching the matter, I have discovered a considerable amount of variation from one private or local tradition to another, and of varying quality. The version that I have compiled seems to represent an idealized composite version which avoids liturgical and ideological conflicts and inconsistencies. (For instance, some of the rules have borrowed various elements of the Psalter Prayer Rule [the preceeding service, which focuses on daily personal repentance], but I have rejected these as "off-topic" to the goal of prayer for the departed. Instead, I have chosen to follow those rules which draw their material solely from other services for the departed (canons and litias). I have also included a few optional prayers from the Old Rite and a brief prayer for someone who is not Orthodox (since we pray for them in our private prayers).
- Concerning Prayers for the Reposed
- (an essential addition!)
Liturgical Materials Accompanying the Use of the Psalter
- The Selected Psalms and Megalynaria (Magnifications) for the Principal Feasts
- List of Refrains at the Canons (Weekly, Festal and General)
- Refrains on Feasts of the Lord and Theotokos, Sung at the 9th Ode of the Canon
Materials Accompanying the Use of the Psalter in [Private] Prayer
- The Rite Chanted During the Departure of the Soul from the Body: The Canons to the Lord and Theotokos at the Departure of the Soul
[Note: This is the service performed in the Old Rite, containing 2 Canons. In the New Rite these 2 Canons have been transferred to the Trebnik (where they have been given new intentions, thanks to Metropolitan Peter Mohila), and the following Canon has replaced the Canon included in the Liturgical Psalter.]
- The Rite Chanted Following the Departure of the Soul from the Body
- The Commemoration (Memorial Prayers)
- The Hymn of St. Ambrose, Bishop of Milan
Materials for Replacing the Divine Services with the Psalms
- The Rite for Singing the Twelve Psalms
- Found in the Sledovannaia Psaltir and some editions of the standard Psalter. [This Rule is almost always found in prayer books preceding The Pachomian Rule, both in Old and New Rite sources. The two chapters seem to have a significant historical connection.] Some editors have assumed that this rule of prayer is to be done alone, but internal evidence and surviving use of this service among the Old Believers suggests that it is used in both public and private circumstances. It can be used in sketes where there is limited energy or liturgical resources for full services, it can be used by families or individuals while traveling, and it can be used by individuals who live a solitary life or who lack service books or who wish to have a simple prayer rule unencumbered by complex liturgical rituals.
- The historical origins of the Twelve Psalms has its genesis in the earliest period of Christian monasticism. While this tradition was well known in the Egyptian Thebaid, it is likely that it originated among the Palestinian desert fathers and was passed along to the Egyptian monastics, where it developed a more ritualised format. (For more information, see: On the Recitation of the 12 Psalms.) It is quite interesting to note that the contemporary daily offices of the Coptic Orthodox Church (according to Taft and Woodfenden, etc.) are still built on a structure of 12 Psalms, although the selection of psalms varies from office to office.
- See also: Чин 12 псалмов и пения Псалтири (Михаил Скабалланович –
- The Rule of St. Pachomius
- Found in the Sledovannaia Psaltir and numerous other editions of the Psalter and Prayer Book. [This Rule is almost always found in prayer books following The Rite for Singing the Twelve Psalms, both in Old and New Rite sources.]
- See: Wikipedia - Pachomius
- A Rule According to the Prayer Rope
- This is a compilation from several sources. One can argue that it probably would better be included in a prayer book, but since this rule is to replace the divine services (instead of replacing one's private prayers), and since the Psalter is a traditional method of replacing the services, the editors have decided that this rule complements the Psalter Rule and has merit for inclusion in the Psalter.
- The Service for Sundays in Tone 6
- Found in the Sledovannaia Psaltir. Because the Sunday Octoechos is now readily available in the English language, there is no genuine need to include this service in the Psalter. [The inclusion of this service is currently under discussion.]
- The General Service for Weekdays to the Lord
- Found in the Sledovannaia Psaltir. This service should be included in the Psalter because it fulfills the need to provide materials for replacing the services in church with a basic common service to Our Lord Jesus Christ. Moreover, this service cannot be found in any other service book, and to this date a translation has not been made available in any known publication.
- It is ideal for use in sketes or in any circumstances where a set of service books (Octoechos and Menaion) is unavailable. (It does require the use of the Horologion and the Psalter, however.)
Possible Other Inclusions:
- The General Canon for the Departed
- The General Canon for One Who Has Departed
- Appendix of Old Rite Materials:
- "On the Christian Life"
- Materials from "The Rule of Domestic Prayer" (Prayer Rules, Replacing Services, etc.)