How Well Do You Know the Psalms?
There is evidence that by the sixth century, memorization of the entire psalter was a requirement for holding clerical office. Gregory the Great (540-604) and the second canon of the Second Council of Nicaea (787) ‘made provisions for excluding from office anyone who did not know the Psalter thoroughly’ (Handbook of Patristic Exegesis [Brill], 300). I assume that the psalms were viewed as being so essential for cultivating the spiritual life, that a thorough knowledge of the entire psalter was considered necessary to undertake pastoral duties. The ancients assumed that a knowledge of the psalms trains one to know the defects of the soul and the means of its remedy. For an example of this kind of approach to the psalter, consider this letter from Athanasius.