Thursday, January 29, 2009

Have you tried to memorize the Psalms?

Or some of them? Or did you manage to get all of them? Why did you do it? How did it go? Which translation did you use?


  1. Some of them, without much success. I should start small, even smaller than Psalm 130; someone recommended memorizing this psalm to recite as one passes graveyards (there is, I believe, an indulgence attached).

    My favorite translation is the hard-to-find Coverdale translation in the 1928 Book of Common Prayer. There are many memorable phrasings: "my beauty is gone for very trouble" (Psalm 6); "he knappeth the spear in sunder" (Psalm 46); "extreme to mark what is done amiss" (Psalm 130).

    Without intending to, I've memorized some of the less euphonious renderings of the New American Bible: "Jerusalem, built as a city/ with compact unity,/ To it the tribes go up,/ the tribes of the Lord."

    I once knew a former Episcopalian monk who claimed to remember the entire Psalter from the 1928 BCP. It is a good rendering.

  2. Have you seen this edition of Coverdale's psalter?

    I thoughtlessly started recently with Psalm 1, intending to go from 1 to 150. Heh. Now that you mention them, I think I'll finish 1 and continue with the penitential psalms - partial indulgences are indeed granted for 130 and 51.

    It was your blog description that brought me back to the psalms: "I will show my dark speech upon the harp." I'd forgotten that English could do that.

  3. Thanks for the link to the Coverdale psalter! (And yes, I should probably memorize 51. I do have a confessor who often assigns the reading of it as a penance.)