The Religious Rules
The rule of a monastic community sets the framework and theological understanding of shared life. St. Benedict expresses the relationship of liturgical song to religious belief in the nineteenth chapter of his rule, including the emphasis on the importance of agreement between the heart and voice. A popular chorister’s prayer even today admonishes each singer to “take heed that what you sing with your lips you believe in your heart and practice in your life.” Thus the expected results of the choral recitation of the offices were and are the creation and nurture of a core piety that bears the fruits of the spirit. Through the daily constant chanting of the psalms, antiphons, and responsories, each monastic internalizes the creeds and scriptures of the faith in a deeply resonant song that echoes in the spirit even when the actual sound dies away. In this way the monk or nun follows St. Paul’s dictum to pray unceasingly.
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