Memorizing Scripture

When memorizing Psalms, I’d like to be in the company of as many as possible which becomes difficult in modern times. I’m inclined to prefer Coverdale’s 1535 psalter. Twelve Psalms to memorize:  117, 134, 131, 133, 123, 93, 23, 100, 121, 1, 2, and 110.

For comparison, note the choice of metaphor vs simile in verse 2:

Psalm 63

1  O God, thou art my God *
early will I seek thee.
2  My soul thirsteth for thee, my flesh also longeth after thee *
in a barren and dry land where no water is.
3  Thus have I looked for thee in holiness *
that I might behold thy power and glory.
4  For thy loving-kindness is better than the life itself *
my lips shall praise thee.
5  As long as I live will I magnify thee on this manner *
and lift up my hands in thy Name.
6  My soul shall be satisfied, even as it were with marrow and fatness *
when my mouth praiseth thee with joyful lips.
7  Have I not remembered thee in my bed *
and thought upon thee when I was waking?
8  Because thou hast been my helper *
therefore under the shadow of thy wings will I rejoice.
9  My soul hangeth upon thee *
thy right hand hath upholden me.
10  These also that seek the hurt of my soul *
they shall go under the earth.
11  Let them fall upon the edge of the sword *
that they may be a portion for foxes.
12  But the King shall rejoice in God; all they also that swear by him shall be commended *
for the mouth of them that speak lies shall be stopped.

GRAIL PSALMS (1963)2 O God, you are my God, for you I long;
for you my soul is thirsting.
My body pines for you
like a dry, weary land without water.
3 So I gaze on you in the sanctuary
to see your strength and your glory.4 For your love is better than life,
my lips will speak your praise.
5 So I will bless you all my life,
in your name I will lift up my hands.
6 My soul shall be filled as with a banquet,
my mouth shall praise you with joy.7 On my bed I remember you.
On you I muse through the night
8 for your have been my help;
in the shadow of your wings I rejoice.
9 My soul clings to you;
your right hand holds me fast.
REVISED GRAIL PSALMS (2010)2 O God, you are my God; at dawn I seek you;
for you my soul is thirsting.
For you my flesh is pining,
like a dry, weary land without water.
3 I have come before you in the sanctuary,
to behold your strength and your glory.4 Your loving mercy is better than life;
my lips will speak your praise.
5 I will bless you all my life;
in your name I will lift up my hands.
6 My soul shall be filled as with a banquet;
with joyful lips, my mouth shall praise you.7 When I remember you upon my bed,
I muse on you through the watches of the night.
8 For you have been my strength;
in the shadow of your wings I rejoice.
9 My soul clings fast to you;
your right hand upholds me.

Modern, official translations give little weight to poetic values and no one version is dominant within the Church. The Grail version does use sprung rhythm of sorts, is the version used in the Liturgy of the Hours, and there is a beautiful, large format edition done by Trappists that is readily available ( http://www.amazon.com/Abbey-Psalter-Psalms-Trappist-Genesse/dp/0809103168/ ).

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3 Responses to Memorizing Scripture

  1. Mark says:

    hello my friend-
    Having been accustomed to the 1963 Grail edition as found in the Liturgy of the Hours I set about memorizing the psalms 2 years back. When I reached around 37 memorized I realized that the Bishops approved the Revised Grail Edition as produced by Conception Abbey. According to some online threads I’m reading, the current Lectionary (with the NAB psalms) will be around for a long time yet – 10-20 years. But new Liturgy of the Hours may be produced in just a few years, with the new psalms.
    So I’m in a quandary. I’m very used to the current Liturgy of the Hours/Grail edition (although I no longer formally pray the Hours, opting instead for regular interior recitation of memorized psalms). Being accustomed to that edition has greatly facilitated memorizing them. Yet I confess – I wish the Mass Lectionary used the same translation. It would be very nice to have the same translation in my heart as what will be in the new LOTH as well as new Lectionary. Yet that is so far away! Do I change now, mid-stream, and continue memorizing the Revised Grail and later on go back and memorize the ones I currently know with the new ones?
    Or do I just plough ahead and continue memorizing the original Grail, and just leave those in my heart to pray, and never concern myself with the new translation?
    I see you use a completely different translation entirely.
    Thank you for your feedback!
    Mark

  2. Thomas says:

    Hi Mark,
    I certainly would not wait for new LOTH.

    I use RSV, Catholic Edition generally but use Grail or Revised Grail for Psalms. I’m inclined to suggest you continue with current Grail/LOTH. At any rate, hiding them in your memory in ANY version is better than not memorizing at all.
    Grace be with you.

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