We know that in the past the psalms were sung by all the Jews: songs of lament, petition and thanksgiving for the people of the Old Testament. And St. Paul tells us in many of his letters to sing psalms and spiritual hymns⎯the psalms were an every day part of the life of the people of the New Testament, and part of personal prayer. Jesus prayed the psalms—even on the cross. As a pastoral musician, this knowledge, this history and these documents enjoin me (us) to use whatever means are available to encourage assembly singing of the psalm!
The Psalm changes weekly (every Sunday) as do the readings. It is unusual to have to same response for consecutive Sundays—unless you happen to sing a “seasonal psalm” (ie: a psalm for the whole of Christmas Season). It is telling, I think, that this Sunday (the Nineteenth), and for the next two Sundays (the Twentieth and the Twenty-first), we sing the same Psalm response: “Taste and see the goodness of the Lord.” I added last Sunday, the Eighteenth Sunday also—to unite the weeks of the “Bread of Life Discourse” from St. John.
The Church, in organizing our readings in the three-year cycles, knew how important St. John’s Bread of Life Discourse would be to the Catholic faithful—the Eucharist and its theology is central to our beliefs! Here was an opportunity to worship and learn about Eucharist in John’s great words; here was an opportunity to really “take in” and keep a piece of scripture on our lips! Here was a way to form a Psalm “habit” of prayer, with a phrase that serves us and our faith.
The verses for the Psalm for all the weeks begin with the same phrase: “I will bless the Lord at all times; his praise shall be ever in my mouth.” These are perfect words to take home from Church; a guide for the way to live this life—the Eucharist should change us, as we partake and share. “Taste and see the goodness of the Lord.” A great phrase to keep in mind, to keep on our lips, to keep in our hearts.