Psalmody & Noetic Prayer

April 9, 2010

Psalmody is not suited (it is proper for beginners and the passionate) for constantly praying for one’s sins or against evil thoughts and the passions, because of the multitude of words employed, some to glorify God, others beholding His creatures or God’s dispensation and providence or His threats and promises or that He is pre-eternal and incomprehensible, and such things as these which the passionate and ailing mind cannot behold. In psalmody one’s thoughts fall into fantasy and only passively observe. A person thus only keeps to an external quantity and when he gets used to keeping it, he falls into a kind of complacent self-satisfaction and boasting of the heart of which St. John Climacus, who was experienced in such things, has said:

“Do not begin with being overly wordy, lest the mind be distracted by searching for words. A single word of the publican evoked the mercy of God and a single utterance saved the thief. A multitude of words has frequently distracted the mind and robbed it, while a few words gather it together well.”

What the New Theologian wrote is correct. After the withering of the passions chanting comes naturally for the tongue. For how can one sing or chant the hymn of the Lord in a foreign land [Psalm 136:4]—that is, in a passionate heart? – Elder Basil of Poiana Marului


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