Spirituality of the Midnight Psalmody

    Heeding the Divine call in the Scriptures to “watch,” the Church guides the faithful to take up vigil at the midnight hour.  In it, the worshipper embarks on a spiritual journey whereby he undergoes the same rite of deliverance and renewal which the Israelites went through when they were delivered from the slavery of Egypt and reborn through the crossing of the Red Sea.  The worshipper praying the Midnight Psalmody recounts and experiences this journey in the First Hoas and rejoices with those who were rescued (the Israelites), “I will sing to the Lord for He has triumphed gloriously.  The horse and its rider He has thrown into the sea. The Lord is my strength and song and He has become to me my salvation.  He is my God and I will glorify Him, my father’s God and I will exalt Him.”  

    The Midnight Psalmody continues in a series of praises and canticles through which the worshipper is drawn into the highest level of communication with God – the prayer of praise.  As in the celebration of the Divine Eucharistic Liturgy where the Church ascends to a heavenly banquet, so also does the worshipper praying the Midnight Psalmody ascend to the heavens and join the choir of angels in their prayers of praise to God.

    Therefore, when you participate in the Midnight Psalmody during the Advent season and throughout the year, focus on the meaning of these heavenly praises.  Heed the counsel of St. Isaac the Syrian where he advises those who use psalmody in their prayer, “Do you wish to take delight in the psalmody of your liturgy [prayer] and to understand the oracles of the Spirit which you recite?  Then disregard completely the quantity of verses, and set at naught your skill in giving rhythm to the verses, so that you may speak them in the manner of prayer.”  (The Ascetical Homilies of St. Isaac the Syrian – Homily 54).