Praying or listening

hi there everyone this is probably a very silly question. I wanted to know if listening to the Psalms is considered the same as actually saying them yourself?

Ive always enjoyed praying the gradual Psalms, Psalms of the Holy name of Jesus and Mary etc.

recently I found some beautiful English chanting of the Psalms and as I can’t sing for quids, I wanted to rather than say them, Listen to them. does the church consider that Listening to the psalms is the same as saying them yourself?

basically do I get my Partial indulgence from Listening rather than saying them? (under the usual conditions of course)

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I dont have any sources but the object is to pray them. So if your heart is moved with the singing you are praying them in your heart. IMHO

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It is fine to listen to the Psalms as a devotional practice.

However, if you are trying to get some kind of indulgence for them, you need to follow the rules of the Enchiridion of Indulgences. Certain psalms (not all of them, just specific ones listed in the Enchiridion) qualify for a partial indulgence if you “recite” them, which means you need to say them, not just listen to somebody else doing it. If you are trying to get the plenary indulgence for reading Scripture, then you need to sit down and read the psalms out of the Bible for at least a half hour, plus the usual conditions, and again just listening to them doesn’t count.

Manual of Indulgences (USCCB 205) shows norm 24:

N24. Confessors can commute either the prescribed work or the conditions in favor of those for whom these are impossible because of a legitimate impediment.

Handbook of Indulgences (USCCB 2005)

30.1 A plenary indulgence is granted to the faithful who read the Sacred Scriptures as spiritual reading from a text approved by competent authority and with the reverence due to the divine work, for at least a half an hour; if the time is less, the indulgence will be partial.

30.2 If for some good reason a person is unable to read the Sacred Scriptures, a plenary or partial indulgence is granted, as above, if the text of Sacred Scripture is listened to while another person is reading or if it is heard by means of a video or audio recording.

Then there is prayer. It is possible to receive a partial indulgence by mental prayer, utilizing Concession 15, Mental Prayer.

Other prayer, it is to be vocal prayer (it should a least be audible to oneself, such as a whisper).

In the Manual of Indulgences (USCCB 2005), the requirements for the plenary indulgence of the Marian rosary use the words “recite” and “vocal prayer”. Recite is audible according to the dictionary.

In the general norms we see that the deaf and mute are not bound to this in public or private (N26 below) [emphasis mine]. They are very specific here to detail the requirement of recitation, with an grant for the deaf and mute to “recite the prayers mentally”.

N22. An indulgence attached to a prayer can be acquired by reciting the prayer in any language, provided that the translation is approved by the competent ecclesiastical authority.
N23. To gain an indulgence it is sufficient to recite the prayer alternately with a companion or to follow it mentally while it is being recited by another.
N26. Both the deaf and the mute can gain indulgences attached to public prayers if, together with the other faithful praying in the same place, they devoutly raise their mind and affections to God; regarding private prayers it is sufficient for them to recite the prayers mentally or express them with signs, or simply to read them without pronouncing the words.

You might have noticed from the Catechism that the emphasis is on the perfect form of prayer.
Catechism of the Catholic Church 2703 states that

“He also wants the external expression that associates the body with interior prayer, for it renders him that perfect homage which is his due.”

In a plenary indulgence we strive for a perfect expression, falling short we have a partial indulgence.

Mental prayer is not the same as reciting because of external expression. Vocal prayer (recited) also requires mental engagement. As the norms mention for indulgence there exists at the time some vocal expression because

“it is sufficient to recite the prayer alternately with a companion or to follow it mentally while it is being recited by another.”


703 “He also wants the external expression that associates the body with interior prayer, for it renders him that perfect homage which is his due.”

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cool thanks for that. as I assume if I ‘sing’ along with the psalms (just make the volume loud enough that I can barely hear my voice) that counts as vocal prayer as well

Yes, chanting is vocal prayer, even a whisper. I updated the quote from the Manual of Indulgences to match my printed copy, not an internet quote.

There is an old saying, “Singing is praying twice”.

And, listening to God is as much a part of prayer as speaking to God…Lectio Divina is a wonderful example and practice of listening to God, then speaking to God on what we hear him say!

Some people can sing in an opera. Some cannot carry a note in a washtub if it has a lid with clamps to hold it down…

And skill matters less to God than intent.

back in my romantic 20’s I gave the local Trappist abbey a poke about what was required to enter. Their reply was that one had to be able to sing well. Somewhere in the next 5 decades, that has pretty much been lost, at least at this abbey. They still chant the office and parts of the Mass, but singing well is not clearly differentiated from singing at all.

Sing along. God loves a willing heart.

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