The Psalms of David have been recited in a musical form since they were written, the word ‘psalm’ deriving from the Greek word for ‘a song sung to a harp’. In temple worship, the psalms would have been recited by a solo cantor with a congregational refrain. This form developed into simple melodies or tones that characterise plainsong, which itself was the musical form for psalmody adopted in the early and medieval Church. This was especially so in the monastic foundations which observed the singing of seven (or eight) forms of prayer each day (the ‘offices’ or ‘hours’), in which the recitation of the Psalter was pivotal. A single melodic line was applied to the verses of the psalm and...
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