Gregorian Chant: The Eternal Song
Psalm 51: Have Mercy on me, O Lord
You might expect that this is a chant blog for Lent with such a title. No. At Friday morning Lauds, we chant Psalm 51 – perhaps the most well-known penitential psalm – throughout the year. Though we have often discussed beauty and the value of repetition in both the Divine Office and Eucharist, I think this psalm and chant deserve a special mention.
Chanting Psalm 51 reminds me that I am in need of God’s mercy and loving restoration. The gentle Mode VI antiphon creates an aural “portrait” of God welcoming us home, much as in the story of the prodigal son.
Chanting Psalm 51 reminds me that we are about to go into the weekend, which concludes with Sunday – the Lord’s Day. Though that may seem an obvious thing, I often forget this and think primarily (if not exclusively!) of the projects I must accomplish which received none of my attention through the week. Chanting Psalm 51 reminds me that I am in need of God’s mercy to help me prepare for the Sabbath.
Finally, and perhaps most important, chanting Psalm 51 reminds me that I need to offer God’s mercy, forgiveness, and love to others which has been so generously given to me. Once again, chant – the song of prayer – turns me and all of us to God’s loving and welcoming voice!