Following up on my ‘don’t be a wimp’ post. The three Lenten disciplines are prayer, fasting and almsgiving. I would like to bring to attention a largely forgotten tradition of praying the 7 penitential psalms.
The 7 penitential psalms are psalm 6, 31(32), 37(38), 50(51), 101(102), 129(130), and 142(143). You’re probably wondering about the parenthesis, there are actually two systems of numbering the psalms. The numbers in parenthesis are according to the numbering in the Hebrew Old testament and is used in most protestant Bibles (KJV, RSV), the numbers not in parenthesis are those of the ancient Greek old testament and is the traditional numbering used by the Catholic and Orthodox churches and is used in many Catholic bibles (Douay Rheims).
The penitential psalms in Traditional English/Latin can be found here and included is a link to them in word format for printing http://www.fisheaters.com/7penitentialpsalms.html
They can be found in the more modern but still traditional English of the RSV here http://www.churchyear.net/psalms.html
Praying these psalms during lent is a venerable and ancient tradition. They are found in the back of most Breviaries and books of hours and so praying them is not merely a private devotion but connected with the Churches public prayer (the Liturgy).
One might commit to praying them daily during lent, or perhaps just one day a week or since there are 7 one of them each day or perhaps just sporadically throughout the season. I do think this is a tradition we ought to restore. They could be done communally as a devotion, either publically or in families. Perhaps they could be done with Lenten hymns in way a similar to the lessons and carols tradition. Many of the great composers such as Byrd have written musical settings for them.
Anyway it is something to consider. There are of course other ways to incorporate prayer and I am planning on a post about the Divine Office (Liturgy of Hours) soon.
Ash Wednesday is tomorrow, have a fruitful Lent.