8 Wonders of Kansas customs

An 8 Wonder of Kansas Customs

Reciting and chanting the Psalms, Atchison

Address: 1020 N. Second St., Atchison, KS 66002
Phone: 913.367.7853
Website: www.kansasmonks.org/

Custom: Reciting and chanting the Psalms

Where can you see this custom in practice? St. Benedict's Abbey in Atchison

The Benedictine Monks recite or chant the Liturgy of the Hours four times a day, seven days a week.

Photo courtesy St. Benedict's Abbey

The general public may visit St. Benedict's Abbey and participate with the monks in this ancient form of prayer in the St. Benedict's Abbey Church on the campus of Benedictine College.

Hours of prayer are (best for public to attend are the Vespers):

6:20 a.m. Vigils/morning prayer
12:05 p.m. Midday prayer
5:15 p.m. Mass
6:45 p.m. Vespers

6:20 a.m. Vigils/morning prayer
11:30 a.m. Mass with midday prayer
5:35 p.m. Vespers
6:45 p.m. Vigils

7 a.m. Morning prayer
10 a.m. Mass
12:05 p.m. Midday prayer
5:05 p.m. Vespers

For 152 years the Benedictine monks of St. Benedict's Abbey have been living in community and praying the Psalms of Sacred Scripture. Since 1857, this form of prayer, known as the Liturgy of the Hours, the official prayer of the Catholic Church, has been prayed by the monks in Atchison at least four times a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year, totaling more than 55,500 days straight of communal prayer.

Photo courtesy St. Benedict's Abbey

The Liturgy of the Hours is a combination of reciting and musical chanting of the Psalms. The monks' prayer, which includes Latin and an English translation of Gregorian chant, is a combination of un-accompanied voices singing in unison and voices accompanied by organ. According to ancient custom, the monks sit in two divisions of choir stalls, facing one another, and chant alternating verses.

The practice of praying the Liturgy of the Hours goes back to the early church and is a continuation of the Jewish practice of reciting prayers at certain hours of the day or night. In the Psalms there are expressions like "in the morning I offer you my prayer," "at midnight I will rise and thank you," "evening, morning and at noon I will cry and lament," "seven times a day I praise you."

In keeping with Benedictine hospitality, the public is invited to participate fully in the Liturgy of the Hours.

This custom of praying the Liturgy of the Hours, and the Benedictine life of a monk in general, has flavored the lives of Kansans across the state. Monks founded Benedictine College in Atchison in 1858, which currently has a student population of over 1,400 full-time students. The monks founded numerous parishes in northeast Kansas, as well as in Missouri, Nebraska and Iowa, even setting up a monastery for a short period of time in the late 1800s in southwest Kansas near Ashland. The Benedictine bishop, Louis Fink (bishop of Leavenworth from 1871 to 1904), encouraged German immigrants to settle in colonies throughout Kansas so the monks and other German-speaking priests could better serve them. Bishop Fink took out ads in German newspapers to encourage immigration to Kansas and the settling of German colonies.