Saturday, May 23, 2015
How it was done
Back when a book was a precious work of art.
In monasteries, novices were never allowed near a psalter book. Part of the training of a young monk was to memorise the entire psalter. Once he could recite it all from memory (in Latin, of course) he was taught to translate it. He learned the chant by rote.
Only a small group of monks in any monastery were chosen to form a "schola" in which they would learn the difficult parts of the Office, the hymns and complicated antiphons for the big feasts. In the schola, the single large song book would be placed on a tall lectern and the monks would gather 'round and all sing from the same book, with one monk given the task of turning the pages as they went along.
This is what our monks do here in Norcia, though of course, novices are no longer required to memorize the entire 150 Psalms.