‘Tis the season to be merry, perhaps, but not one for many Sunday psalms. Advent readings naturally enough focus on the experiences and words of the characters in the Nativity play — Mary, Zechariah and even the voice of Isaiah from ‘yesteryear’.
Psalm 80 creeps in as an alternative reading and Christmas itself features Psalms 96, 97 and 98 in various liturgies. However, the canticles are dominant. That’s not to say the Psalms take a holiday in December. Many anthems and motets will be sung around the world, and many of them will source texts from the psalms.
On Sunday 9 December in the excellent acoustics of the Fitters’ Workshop, Canberra music lovers can hear an interesting setting of Psalm 51, a much-sung psalm in various settings and a central Penitential. This one is Miserere (listen) by James Macmillan, a popular composer and conductor in the UK, with text from verses 3 to 21 in Latin.