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“I still haven’t made up my mind whether I shall publish it all. Some people are so humorless, so uncharitable, and so absurdly wrong-headed, that one would probably do far better to relax and enjoy life than worry oneself to death trying to instruct or entertain a public which will only despise one’s efforts, or at least feel no gratitude for them. Most readers know nothing about canon law. Many regard it with contempt and find everything heavy going that isn’t completely lowbrow. Some are so grimly serious that they disapprove of all humor. Others come to different conclusions every time they stand up or sit down. They seize upon your publications, as a wrestler seizes upon his opponent’s hair, and use them to drag you down, while they themselves remain quite invulnerable, because their barren pates are completely bald, so there’s nothing for you to get hold of.”
— St. Thomas More to Peter Gilles, 1516

The Responsorial Psalm: What You Never Knew!
published 1 September 2015 by Guest Author

347 Replace Psalter ERE’S SOMETHING I bet you never realized: the Ordinary Form rubrics allow the responsorial psalm found in the Lectionary to be replaced by any other psalm. If this coming Sunday has psalm 25, you can replace it with psalm 56. If the following Sunday has psalm 68, you can replace it with psalm 104. Here’s the proof:

“In the Dioceses of the United States of America, instead of the Psalm assigned in the Lectionary, there may be sung … an antiphon and Psalm from another collection of Psalms and antiphons—including Psalms arranged in metrical form—providing that they have been approved by the Conference of Bishops or the Diocesan Bishop.”

—§61d of the General Instruction of the Roman Missal

I WANTED TO MAKE ABSOLUTELY SURE, so I recently wrote to the USCCB. Here’s what they said (with their emphasis):

It seems pretty clear to me: “instead of the Psalm assigned…”. It appears that, yes, an entirely different Psalm can be chosen, so long as it comes from an approved source.

As someone who has labored—with very little success—to introduce the propers at my parish, this whole thing came as quite a shock. Why does almost every Catholic parish replace the propers each Sunday, but never the Responsorial Psalm? Whenever I try to promote the propers, people inevitably say, “The GIRM allows us to replace the propers; it’s called fourth option.” Yet, the GIRM also allows us to replace the Responsorial Psalm…

I was prepared to present my theory about why this is, before I submitted this guest blog. I was going to say that the liturgical books only give certain options, and not others. I was going to say something like, “Why isn’t there a book which provides the traditional Gradual psalm as an option? What about that?” However, before posting, the editor at CCW pointed out that the Jogues Missal does provide the Gradual as an option, although somehow my eyes never noticed this before:

349 Gradual

It turns out the Gradual is specifically listed by the GIRM as an option; sometimes it’s listed as 1st option, while other documents place it as 2nd, behind the Lectionary psalm. Perhaps I’m the only one who never knew about all this stuff…

If so, feel free to ignore my article!   :-)

We hope you enjoyed this guest article by J. Michael Ney.