Numbering of Psalms


I do not know where to ask this question, so I started a new thread. Does the Latin Rite of the Catholic Church use the same numbering for the Psalms that Eastern Orthodox do, which come from the Septuagint Greek text rather than the Hebrew numbering as do the Protestants.

Fr. John W. Morris


The Latin Rite uses the same numbering as the Protestants, but I think it might be a somewhat recent change (post Vatican II). I have absolutely nothing solid to base that on, by the way. Just vague memories of having seen an older bible and noticing the numbers were different. The Byzantine Rite uses the same numbering as the Orthodox.


The Protestant numbering has become more popular since the Second Vatican Council. Some individuals (or groups) prefer bibles with the traditional numbering (Like the Douay-Rheims). All the old liturgical documents used the old numbering, but since the 1970’s we’ve been using the non-Septuagint numbering.


Father, bless!

AFAIK, traditionally the Latin Rite used the same numbering of the Psalms as the East (the Septuagint numbering), because the version of the Psalms used in the West - St. Jerome’s Gallican Psalter - was translated/revised from the Greek. It’s only fairly recently that Catholic Bibles (including the Neo-Vulgate) began to adopt the Hebrew numbering of the Psalms. As the other posters have mentioned, the Hebrew numbering have become common - de facto standard? - in the Latin Church since the 1970s onwards.


There are a number of Churches outside of the observance of the Canon that recognize a number of psalms over the limit we put on it, which is 150. (Orthodox churches of Syria and Ethiopia)


The numbering is different between the Hebrew numbering used by Protestants and the Septuagint used by Eastern Orthodox because in the Septuagint Psalms 8 and 9 are combined into one Psalm. Thus Psalm 10 in the Hebrew numbering is Psalm 9 in the Septuagint numbering. The numbering in the Septuagint is one less than the numbering in the Hebrew Psalms until Psalm 147 is reached. For example what most people consider Psalm 23, “The Lord is my shepherd…” is Psalm 22 in the Septuagint used by the Eastern Orthodox. In the Septuagint Psalm 147 is divided into two Psalms so that from 148 to 150 the numbering is the same in both versions. However, the Septuagint has a Psalm 151 with a note that it is never read during services. In the Eastern Orthodox Psalter the Psalms are divided into 20 Kathisma each of which is divided into 3 Stasis. Kathisma means “sitting” because the monks and nuns sit when the Psalms are read. The entire Psalter is read once a week in a monastery, except during Great Lent when it is read twice. The Typikon and Orthodox versions of the Psalter contain a chart that tells which Psalms are read at Matins and Vespers. For example the first 8 Psalms, the first Kathisma is always read during Saturday evening Great Vespers.

Fr. John W. Morris

Fr. John W. Morris


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