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Rooted in ancient Jewish usage (see, e.g., Psalm 14 and Daniel ), the Liturgy of the Hours consists of regular prayer offices said or sung throughout the day at approximately three-hour intervals (cf. In the Orthodox Church the Psalter is divided into twenty , or sittings, during which the entire Psalter is sung in course.
The Liturgy of the Hours survived the Reformation in some places, but not everywhere.
In them we hear expressions of joy and lament, cries for revenge against enemies, confession of sin, acknowledgement of utter dependence on God, recitations of his mighty acts in history, and finally songs of praise and adoration.
With the rest of the Old Testament, Christians share the biblical Psalter with the Jewish people, with whom it originates.
The early church fathers added to this number, seeing Jesus Christ, not only in several other individual psalms, but in the whole of the Psalter itself.
The ancient Hebrew psalmists delighted in repeating a thought twice, but in different words.
And contrary to the strict metrical structure of modern Christian hymnody, , while the basic rhythm is repeated in successive lines or groups of lines, the number of syllables varies from one line to the next.3 A recent attempt to recover something of this original poetic flavour can be seen in Gelineau psalmody, invented in the 1950s by the French priest, Fr.
This small collection contained 19 metrical psalms, 13 of which were set to verse by the French court poet Clément Marot and six others by Calvin himself, as well as three canticles from elsewhere in scripture, viz., the Decalogue, the Song of Simeon () and the Creed, thereby making a total of 22 texts used by the French-speaking congregation there.
These psalms were not sung as plainchant; rather the texts were reworked into poetic form to be sung in the language of the people set to fresh tunes composed explicitly for this purpose by Matthias Greiter (c. 1510-1560) and a certain Maistre Pierre.6 In these early partial collections of psalms, including (1543), the number of psalms increased with each subsequent edition.