The numbering of the Hebrew text, followed in the Authorized Version and most other Protestant versions, differs from that of the Septuagint and the Vulgate. In the Temple, the psalms were chanted daily by professional singers (Levites), with instruments.
In the Eastern (Orthodox) churches psalms are seldom sung entire; in Western churches they are sung complete or a few verses of a psalm are sung in an antiphonal or responsorial chant.
Is there metre in the Psalms? The Jews of the first
century A.D. thought so. Flavius Josephus speaks of the hexameters
of Moses and the trimeters and tetrameters and manifold meters
of the odes and hymns of David. Philo says that Moses had
learned the "theory of rhythm and harmony". Early Christian
writers voice the same opinion. Origen (d. 254) says the Psalms
are in trimeters and tetrameters (In Ps. cxviii); and Eusebius
(d. 340), in his "De Praeparatione evangelica", speaks of
the same metres of David. St. Jerome (420), in "Praef. ad
Eusebii chronicon" (P.L., XXVII, 36), finds iambics, Alcaics,
and Sapphics in the psalter; and, writing to Paula, he explains
that the acrostic Pss. cxi and cxii (cx and cxi) are made
up of iambic trimeters, whereas the acrostic Pss. cxix and
cxlv (cxviii and cxliv) are iambic tetrameters. Modern exegetes
do not agree in this matter. For a time many would admit no
metre at all in the Psalms. Davison (Hast., "Dict. of the
Bible", s. v.) writes: "though metre is not discernible in
the Psalms, it does not follow that rhythm is excluded". This
rhythm, however, "defies analysis and systematization". Driver
("Introd. to Lit. of O. T.", New York, 1892, 339) admits in
Hebrew poetry "no metre in the strict sense of the term".
Exegetes who find metre in the Psalms are of four schools,
according as they explain Hebrew metre by quantity, by the
number of syllables, by accent, or by both quantity and accent.
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