Reflections on the Rule of St Benedict: Introduction
(please scroll down for daily reflections)

We wanted the Rule of St Benedict (RB) to pulse through the website as it does through our life, hence the decision that the daily portion of the Rule, read in most Benedictine monasteries and by many individuals, should feature on the Home Page. The version selected is that of Dom Justin McCann of Ampleforth published by the Stanbrook Abbey Press in 1937 and used by kind permission of the Ampleforth Abbey Trust. There are several reasons for this choice: first of all, we feel it still reads as an elegant translation, then we wish to celebrate cooperation between the Ampleforth and Stanbrook communities over many years, and thirdly, perhaps the old-fashioned ‘thees’ and ‘thous’ can actually help us approach the Rule of St Benedict thoughtfully. For all its relevance, RB remains an ancient text which needs careful ‘unpacking’.

To accompany the extracts of the Rule we hope to post regular reflections, from members of the Stanbrook Community and Stanbrook Oblates. These do not aim to be scholarly commentaries of which there are many excellent editions available. Rather, the reflections allow us to re-visit the Rule, to try to listen to its familiar voice anew, and to share thoughts via this forum.

Your comments are welcome via

Click here for pdf of whole Rule: RB37

From Oct.-Dec. there will be a weekly reflection from Sr Laurentia

Reflection on RB 8-20: Why sing psalms?

For some time now, the therapeutic benefits of singing have become more generally recognised. From the physical boons of improved breathing, posture and muscle tone, to helping lift one’s mood and even alleviating depression, the advantages of singing seem manifold and, provided that strain is avoided, free from harmful side effects. Most people enjoy a good sing, especially perhaps in company with others.
But there is more. Those who have watched a loved one struggle with dementia know that the capacity to sing can be a powerful way of communicating when other faculties decline. Or you may have seen the film, ‘A Song for Marian’ which illustrates the power of choral singing to break down isolation and loneliness and heal psychological wounds built up over many years.

The advantages of choral worship include all this but go even deeper, reaching down to the existential depths: human beings have an innate need to worship the God who made them. Singing takes us, almost literally, out of our small selves and helps us expand to the stature of first-born children of God. It helps us become what we are called to be.

The Psalms, as the songs of God’s people as they journey to heaven, are particularly powerful in this process of transformation. Back in the 4th century after Christ St Athanasius describes how important it is to sing the Psalms rather than simply reading them, for the act of singing calms the passions and helps to permeate our being with order and proportion, bringing all our faculties into harmony (see Letter to Marcellinus by Athanasius, esp. sections 27-29).

So chapters 8-20 of the Rule of St Benedict, made up mostly of psalms, provide a singing academy for all round health of mind, body and spirit.

©Stanbrook Abbey

‘The Way of Benedict: Eight Blessings for Lent’ by Laurentia Johns OSB is due to be published by SPCK on 19 December 2019.