Liturgy of Mount Zion
I have been reading the Psalms in many different formats of late. In English by myself and with my betrothed, in Amharic with my Amharic students, in Ge’ez with my Ge’ez teacher, and in Biblical Hebrew on my own and sometimes with my Biblical Hebrew teacher. Fr. Marc Boulos told me a story recently from when he was in seminary at St. Vladimir’s studying under the renown writer, teacher, and theologian John Meyendorff. Meyendorff’s Imperial unity and Christian divisions: The Church 450-680 A.D is on my infinitesimally long to-read list, as a church history book covering a period shrouded by the fog of time and scarcity of tangible evidence, especially for us Aksumites. And he mentions us! How could he not?
Back to the story, Meyendorff taught that the modern Greek Rite is actually the merging of two distinct rites. One is Constantinopolitan, the other is Palestinian. One is imperial in origin, the other is monastic in origin. One’s lineage is pagan theater, the other’s is the Psalms of David. In the Ge’ez Rite, we find a parallel. Waldiba Monastery (founded in the 5th Century A.D.), where my maternal grandfather and many of his ancestors are buried, famously eschews the mahilét (highly elaborated instrumental medieval to modern non-eucharistic liturgy) for se’atat (instrumentless and more Psalmic liturgy of the hours) and normal eucharistic liturgy; even on high holidays such as Christmas, Theophany, and Pascha.
I’m not telling anyone to stop pursuing godliness in more elaborate ways. But, the monks teach us how to simply and consistently worship God. Begin with the Psalms. Biblical Hebrew is best, and Old Greek is second best, but read them in any language that you can, again and again, till kingdom come, or you’ve memorized them, whichever comes first.