Sunday, December 11, 2011

Propers for the Third Sunday of Advent: Psalm 84


Creation and the expulsion from paradise
Giovanni di Paulo 1445

The verse for today’s Introit, as well as the Offertory come from Psalm 84, which prophesies our redemption. St Alphonsus Liguori explains:

“The psalmist goes to show us, on the one hand, the Jewish people delivered from slavery; on the other hand, mankind redeemed from the slavery of Satan. He enumerates, moreover, the fruits of the Redemption.”

A cause for rejoicing indeed!



Introit and Offertory text

The verses used in the propers for the Third Sunday of Advent are:

Benedixísti, Dómine, terram tuam: avertísti captivitátem Jacob (Introit, Offertory).
Lord, you have blessed your land: you have turned away the captivity of Jacob.

Remisísti iniquitátem plebis tuæ (Offertory only)
You have forgiven the iniquity of your people

Through Christ comes forgiveness of sins

As is often the case with the propers, the full significance of it depends on knowing what comes next.

Though the psalm can in part be taken as a reference to God leading his people out of Exile in Egypt, and numerous other deliverances, it is clear from the text here that the liberation talked about is primarily spiritual.

In fact the second half of the second verse is the key: ‘you have covered all their sins’, as Our Lord did through the Cross.  St Augustine explains this verse as follows:

"Behold how He has turned away their captivity, in that He has remitted iniquity: iniquity held them captive; your iniquity forgiven, you are freed. Confess therefore that you are in captivity, that you may be worthy to be freed: for he that knows not of his enemy, how can he invoke the liberator? You have covered all their sins. What is, You have covered? So as not to see them. How did You not see them? So as not to take vengeance on them. You were unwilling to see our sins: and therefore You saw them not, because You would not see them: You have covered all their sins."

The psalm goes on to explain the context for the Incarnation, albeit in a rather anthropomorphic way:

You have mitigated all your anger: you have turned away from the wrath of your indignation.



Advent is a call to conversion

The psalm then reminds of the purpose of Advent, namely the call to continuing conversion:

“Convert us, O God our saviour: and turn off your anger from us.
Will you be angry with us for ever: or will you extend your wrath from generation to generation?”

Yet through we wait and prepare, we know the outcome:

“You will turn, O God, and bring us to life: and your people shall rejoice in you."

Show us, O Lord, your mercy; and grant us your salvation.”

The psalm then speaks of Christ and the fruits of his redeeming mission more directly:

I will hear what the Lord God will speak in me: for he will speak peace unto his people:
And unto his saints: and unto them that are converted to the heart.
Surely his salvation is near to them that fear him: that glory may dwell in our land.
Mercy and truth have met each other: justice and peace have kissed.
Truth is sprung out of the earth: and justice has looked down from heaven.
For the Lord will give goodness: and our earth shall yield her fruit.
Justice shall walk before him: and shall set his steps in the way.

Here is the Latin:

1 Benedixísti, Dómine, terram tuam: * avertísti captivitátem Jacob.
2 Remisísti iniquitátem plebis tuæ: * operuísti ómnia peccáta eórum.
3 Mitigásti omnem iram tuam: * avertísti ab ira indignatiónis tuæ.
4 Convérte nos, Deus, salutáris noster: * et avérte iram tuam a nobis.
5 Numquid in ætérnum irascéris nobis? * aut exténdes iram tuam a generatióne in generatiónem?
6 Deus, tu convérsus vivificábis nos: * et plebs tua lætábitur in te.
7 Osténde nobis, Dómine, misericórdiam tuam: * et salutáre tuum da nobis.
8 Audiam quid loquátur in me Dóminus Deus: * quóniam loquétur pacem in plebem suam.
9 Et super sanctos suos: * et in eos, qui convertúntur ad cor.
10 Verúmtamen prope timéntes eum salutáre ipsíus: * ut inhábitet glória in terra nostra.
11 Misericórdia, et véritas obviavérunt sibi: * justítia, et pax osculátæ sunt.
12 Véritas de terra orta est: * et justítia de cælo prospéxit.
13 Etenim Dóminus dabit benignitátem: * et terra nostra dabit fructum suum.
14 Justítia ante eum ambulábit: * et ponet in via gressus suos.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Propers of the Second Sunday of Advent: Psalm 49



The Gradual for this Sunday's Mass is taken from Psalm 49, a psalm which prophesies the second coming of Christ according to St Alphonsus Liguori:

"This psalm describes the second coming of Jesus Christ, which will be public and full of majesty, in contrast with his first coming, which was humble and hidden."

The verses around the text used in the Gradual give the psalm some important context pointing to God's coming as judge, so here they are, first in the Vulgate, then the Douay-Rheims, with the Gradual text bolded:

Deus deórum, Dóminus locútus est: * et vocávit terram,
A solis ortu usque ad occásum: * ex Sion spécies decóris ejus.
Deus maniféste véniet: * Deus noster et non silébit.
Ignis in conspéctu ejus exardéscet: * et in circúitu ejus tempéstas válida.
Advocábit cælum desúrsum: * et terram discérnere pópulum suum.
Congregáte illi sanctos ejus: * qui órdinant testaméntum ejus super sacrifícia.
Et annuntiábunt cæli justítiam ejus: * quóniam Deus judex est.

The God of gods, the Lord has spoken: and he has called the earth.
From the rising of the sun, to the going down thereof: Out of Sion the loveliness of his beauty.
God shall come manifestly: our God shall come, and shall not keep silence.
A fire shall burn before him: and a mighty tempest shall be round about him.
He shall call heaven from above, and the earth, to judge his people.
Gather together his saints to him: who set his covenant before sacrifices.
And the heavens shall declare his justice: for God is judge.
Hear, O my people, and I will speak: O Israel, and I will testify to you: I am God, your God.

The verses set for the day also refer to the beauty of God, a reminder that beauty is not entirely a cultural construct, and to the extent that it is, it is one that can be guided by God, both through the talents he gives to men, and the inspirations he gives directly and indirectly, including through nature.  The chant is a good example of this!

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Where to next?

I'd appreciate any feedback you may have on this series, particularly on issues such as:
  • how many verses to cover in a post - was it too much t do two or more at a time as I did with Psalm 137?
  • is the level of detail on the Latin about right, or would you like more parsing (starting what case/tense etc is being used), alternative translations?
  • are the commentaries helpful?
  • are the Latin study hints posts helpful or not?
Any other more general comments or reactions are also welcome.

I'd also be particularly interested in hearing how you are using this series.  Has anyone taken up my suggestion to use the Simplicissimus course for example?  Is anyone sitting down systematically and trying to learn these psalms phrase by phrase, or are you just reading through the notes and absorbing what you can as you go?  Are you more interested in the Latin or the context/commentary material?

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Psalm 137: Latin study hints Part B

By way of a tag to the mini-series on Psalm 137, some materials to help you with your Latin studies.

Grammar

If you are keeping up with the Simplicissimus Reading Latin Course (see link to the materials in the sidebar), you will hopefully have reached unit 8, which deals with the present indicative perfect tense ('I have _') . One thing to look out for in the Vulgate are contracted forms of the perfect tense (ie dropping a letter or two), of which there are a couple of examples in this psalm. There is no difference in meaning in these cases.

I’ve bolded the examples of the perfect to look out for in Psalm 137:

1. Confitébor tibi, Dómine, in toto corde meo: * quóniam audísti [audio, contracted form] verba oris mei.
2. In conspéctu Angelórum psallam tibi: * adorábo ad templum sanctum tuum, et confitébor nómini tuo.
3. Super misericórdia tua, et veritáte tua: * quóniam magnificásti [magnifico, contracted form] super omne, nomen sanctum tuum.
4. In quacúmque die invocávero te, exáudi [exaudio] me: * multiplicábis in ánima mea virtútem.
5 Confiteántur tibi, Dómine, omnes reges terræ: * quia audiérunt [contracted] ómnia verba oris tui.
6. Et cantent in viis Dómini: * quóniam magna est glória Dómini.
7. Quóniam excélsus Dóminus, et humília réspicit: * et alta a longe cognóscit.
8. Si ambulávero in médio tribulatiónis, vivificábis me: * et super iram inimicórum meórum extendísti [extendo] manum tuam, et salvum me fecit déxtera tua.
9. Dóminus retríbuet pro me: * Dómine, misericórdia tua in sæculum: ópera mánuum tuárum ne despícias.

Looking up words in the dictionary

And this seems a good point at which to point to a very handy online dictionary tool.

As you may have noticed, Latin words, especially (but not exclusively) verbs, sometimes change form in uses such that it is sometimes hard to recognize the root word, or find it in a dictionary.

A quick solution to this problem is the excellent Perseus Latin Headword Search Tool.
It allows you to type in any word, and searches for it in a dictionary (generally Lewis and Short). If the word is in its most common form, it will take you to straight to the dictionary entry. But if it is inflected, it gives you the option of using the ‘word study tool’: click on the word and it will parse the word for you.

So to use an example from the list above, type in audio, and you get a short definition (to hear), a link to the full dictionary entry, and some frequency statistics t tell you how common a verb it is.

Type in audierunt, however, and you will be told your search turned up no results, but you can try the word study tool. Do that, and it will link you to ‘audio’ and tell you that audierunt is [a] verb 3rd [person] pl [plural] perf[ect] ind[icative] act[ive].

It does require you to know a little grammar, but hopefully you will have picked that up from your reading of Simplicissimus in any case…

Vocabulary

And finally, here is the complete vocab list for Psalm 137, in alphabetical order:

adoro, avi, atum, are, to worship, adore
altus deep (=deceitful), high (=proud)
ambulo, avi, atum, are to walk; the manner in which one orders one's life;
angelus, i, m.an angel, spirit, messenger.
anima, ae, f soul
audio, ivi or li, Itum, ire to hear; to hear gladly; sound forth, utter, announce; hear favorably, to grant,
canto, avi, atum, are to sing, to praise in song
cognosco, gnovi, gnitum, ere 3, to know, see, learn, perceive, be come acquainted with.
confiteor, fessus sum, eri 2 to praise, give thanks; to confess, acknowledge one's guilt.
conspectus, us, m. sight, presence;
cor, cordis, n., the heart, regarded as the seat of the faculties, feelings, emotions, passions; the mind, the soul.
despicio, spexi, spectum, ere 3 to look away from, not to look at, to slight; to despise; to look down upon
dexter, tera, terum; the right hand.
dies, ei, m. and /.; fem. a day, the natural day
exaudio, ivi, Itum, ire, to hear, hearken to, listen to, give heed to; to regard, answer.
excelsus, a, um high, august, sublime, towering aloft ; uplifted; heights, high places; billows, high waves
extendo, tendi, tentum, ere 3, to stretch out or forth; to extend, prolong, protract, continue;
gloria, ae, /. glory, honor, majesty
humilia, the lowly, God's people and their affairs.
inimicus, i, m., a foe, enemy
invoco, avi, atum, are, to invoke, call upon (God); to put trust in
ira, ae, f., anger, wrath
longe, adv. far off, at a distance; as a substantive with a and de, afar off, from afar.
magnifico, avi, atum, are to praise, glorify, extol, magnify
magnus, a, um, great, mighty; elders
manus, us, f, the hand
medius, a, um in the middle, midst
misericordia, ae,, mercy, kindness, favor, compassion, loving-kindness.
multiplico, avi, atum, are to multiply, increase; to grow, flourish
nomen, mis, n. name; God himself; the perfections of God, His glory, majesty, wisdom, power, goodness
omnis, e, all, each, every; subst., all men, all things, everything
opus, eris, n., work.
os, oris, n., the mouth.
pro, prep, with abl., for; instead of, in lieu of; because of, on account of
psallo, ere 3 to sing to the accompaniment of a stringed instrument,; to sing the praises of God.
quacumque - by whatever way, wherever, wheresoever
quoniam, conj., for, because, since, seeing that, whereas.
respicio, spexi, spectum, ere 3 to look upon, behold, consider; take thought for, heed, have regard to;
retribuo, tribui, tributum, ere 3, to repay, requite, reward, recompense, render; give back, return; make requital for
rex, regis, m. a king, ruler, lawgiver
saeculum, i, n., a lifetime, generation, age; an indefinite period of time; forever, eternity; from of old, i.e., in ages past.
salvum facere, to save, keep safe, preserve from harm..
sanctus, a, um, holy, holy person
super +acc=above, upon, over, in, on;+abl= about, concerning; with, on, upon, for, because of.
templum, i, n. the Sanctuary or new Tabernacle on Mount Sion; a temple-like structure; heaven; a palace.
terra, ae, f. (1) the earth, in both a lit. and a fig. sense. (a) orbis terrae, the world. (2) a country, esp. the Land of Israel
totus a um, the whole, entire
tribulatio, onis, f. , trouble, distress, anguish, affliction, tribulation
verbum, i, n.,word, command, edict, also a promise; saying, speech; Law, the Eternal Son.
veritas, atis, truth. grace, kindness ,goodness, fidelity to promises, Faithfulness
via, ae, a way, road, path, street. God's way, God's policy, way of life
virtus, utis, f strength, power, might; an army, host; the angels.; the heavenly bodies, the sun, moon, and stars
vivifico, avi, atum, are to quicken, give life to, vivify.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Psalm 137/5: God's saving help


Death before his judge, c15th

Today a look at the last two verses of Psalm 137, which take us back to the central themes of the Office of the Dead. Pope Benedict comments on them:

“After calling into question national leaders worldwide, not only those of that time but of all times, the person praying returns to his personal prayer of praise. Turning his gaze to his future life, he implores God for help also for the trials that existence may still have in store for him. And we all pray like this, with this prayerful person of that time. He speaks in concise terms of the "anger of the foes", a sort of symbol of all the hostilities that may spring up before the righteous person on his way through history. But he knows, and with him we also know, that the Lord will never abandon him and will stretch out his hand to save and guide him.”

Here are the two verses in question:

8. Si ambulávero in médio tribulatiónis, vivificábis me: * et super iram inimicórum meórum extendísti manum tuam, et salvum me fecit déxtera tua.
If I shall walk in the midst of tribulation, you will quicken me: and you have stretched forth your hand against the wrath of my enemies: and your right hand has saved me.

9. Dóminus retríbuet pro me: * Dómine, misericórdia tua in sæculum: ópera mánuum tuárum ne despícias.
The Lord will repay for me: your mercy, O Lord endures for ever: O despise not the works of your hands.

In the midst of trouble

Verse 8 very much echoes that famous verse of Psalm 22, ye though I walk in the shadow of death:

Si ambulávero in médio tribulatiónis = if I [will] walk in the midst of tribulations

ambulo, avi, atum, are to walk; the manner in which one orders one's life;
medius, a, um in the middle, midst
tribulatio, onis, f. , trouble, distress, anguish, affliction, tribulation

vivificábis me = you will revive me (ie restore/keep me alive spiritually and/or physically)

vivifico, avi, atum, are to quicken, give life to, vivify.

et super iram =and upon/against the anger

super +acc=above, upon, over, in, on
ira, ae, f., anger, wrath

inimicórum meórum =of my enemies

inimicus, i, m., a foe, enemy

extendísti manum tuam = you have extended/stretched out your hand

extendo, tendi, tentum, ere 3, to stretch out or forth; to extend, prolong, protract, continue;
manus, us, f, the hand

et salvum me fecit déxtera tua = and your right hand saves me [=has saved me]

salvum facere, to save, keep safe, preserve from harm..
dexter, tera, terum; the right hand.

St John Chrysostom notes on this verse that the promise here is rescue, not freedom from trouble in the first place! He says:

“He did not say, You will get rid of the tribulation, but You will give me life while remaining in the very midst of troubles, you will succeed in rescuing me after falling into the dangers themselves - something really remarkable and unexpected, when harm is pressing and circumventing, to establish the one beset by it in a state of security…You will be able, in other words, he is saying, both to rescue me while in the midst of troubles, and also to humble and repress those seething and raging and breathing fire…that is, your power, your strength: God is well equipped with ways and means, and capable of leading to salvation from a desperate situation.”

The Lord redeems us

The final verse of the psalm reminds us that we can never merit salvation, but only be granted it through God’s goodness and mercy, and thus Christ’s saving sacrifice.

Dóminus retríbuet pro me = the Lord will make payment for me

retribuo, tribui, tributum, ere 3, to repay, requite, reward, recompense, render; give back, return; make requital for
pro + abl., for; instead of, in lieu of; because of, on account of

Dómine, misericórdia tua in sæculum = O Lord your mercy [is/endures] forever

misericordia, ae,, mercy, kindness, favor, compassion, loving-kindness.
saeculum, i, n., a lifetime, generation, age; an indefinite period of time; forever, eternity; from of old, i.e., in ages past.

ópera mánuum tuárum ne despícias =the works of your hands you will not despise

opus, eris, n., work.
despicio, spexi, spectum, ere 3 to look away from, not to look at, to slight; to despise; to look down upon

Psalm 137

1. Confitébor tibi, Dómine, in toto corde meo: * quóniam audísti verba oris mei.
2. In conspéctu Angelórum psallam tibi: * adorábo ad templum sanctum tuum, et confitébor nómini tuo.
3. Super misericórdia tua, et veritáte tua: * quóniam magnificásti super omne, nomen sanctum tuum.
4. In quacúmque die invocávero te, exáudi me: * multiplicábis in ánima mea virtútem.
5 Confiteántur tibi, Dómine, omnes reges terræ: * quia audiérunt ómnia verba oris tui.
6. Et cantent in viis Dómini: * quóniam magna est glória Dómini.
7. Quóniam excélsus Dóminus, et humília réspicit: * et alta a longe cognóscit.
8. Si ambulávero in médio tribulatiónis, vivificábis me: * et super iram inimicórum meórum extendísti manum tuam, et salvum me fecit déxtera tua.
9. Dóminus retríbuet pro me: * Dómine, misericórdia tua in sæculum: ópera mánuum tuárum ne despícias.

And that's the end of this mini-series, and indeed of this November series on the Office of the Dead.

There is one tag to the series still to come - tomorrow I'll put some more Latin learning notes on Psalm 137, including a consolidated vocabulary list for it.

But if you have any comments on the substance, content or other aspects of these notes, please do let me know.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Psalm 137/4: Let the kings of the earth praise God, but be humble



The first four verses of Psalm 137 talk of an individual praising God.

In verses 5 to 7, the focus becomes more universal, with the psalmist foreseeing the spread of the worship of God across the whole world.   They have a particularly Advent flavour, with their allusion to the kings of the earth coming to worship the true God, as the three kings of the East symbolised at Christ's birth.  And to keep the reference to the kings of the earth in perspective, the psalm reminds us that God is close to the humble, but far from the proud and mighty, a sentiment echoed in the Magnificat:

5 Confiteántur tibi, Dómine, omnes reges terræ: * quia audiérunt ómnia verba oris tui.
May all the kings of the earth give glory to you: for they have heard all the words of your mouth.

6. Et cantent in viis Dómini: * quóniam magna est glória Dómini.
And let them sing in the ways of the Lord: for great is the glory of the Lord.

7. Quóniam excélsus Dóminus, et humília réspicit: * et alta a longe cognóscit.
For the Lord is high, and looks on the low: and the high he knows afar off.

The Latin

The first phrase of verse 5 echoes the opening verse of the psalm, but now with the verb in the third person rather than the first person singular:

Confiteántur tibi, Dómine = let them/may they [the kings of the earth] give thanks to you/glory to you O Lord

confiteor, fessus sum, eri 2 to praise, give thanks; to confess, acknowledge one's guilt.

omnes reges terræ = all the kings of the earth

rex, regis, m. a king, ruler, lawgiver
terra, ae, f. the earth

quia audiérunt =for they have heard

audio, ivi or ii, itum, ire to hear; to hear gladly; sound forth, utter, announce; hear favorably, to grant,

ómnia verba oris tui. = all the words of your mouth

verbum, i, n.,word, command, edict, also a promise; saying, speech; Law, the Eternal Son.
os, oris, n., the mouth.

Et cantent in viis Dómini: = and let them/may they sing (subj) [in/of] the ways of the Lord

canto, avi, atum, are to sing, to praise in song
via, ae, a way, road, path, street. God's way, God's policy, way of life

quóniam magna est glória Dómini = for great is the glory of the Lord

magnus, a, um, great, mighty; elders
gloria, ae, f glory, honor, majesty

These verses should, I think, remind us that our duty is not just to worship God ourselves, though that clearly comes first, but also to spread his message to all, and to be joined to all in his worship.  But there is a catch to this injunction, namely the importance of preserving humility.  Here is the verse echoed in the Magnificat (Luke 1:52):

Quóniam excélsus Dóminus = for the Lord [is] high/exalted

excelsus, a, um high, august, sublime, towering aloft

et humília réspicit = yet he takes thought for the humble

humilia, the lowly, God's people and their affairs.
respicio, spexi, spectum, ere 3 to look upon, behold, consider; take thought for, heed, have regard to;

et alta a longe cognóscit = but the proud he knows from afar

altus, deep (=deceitful), high (=proud)
longe, adv. far off, at a distance; as a substantive with a and de, afar off, from afar.
cognosco, gnovi, gnitum, ere 3, to know, see, learn, perceive, be come acquainted with.

He exalts the humble

Pope Benedict XVI has commented on this psalm that:

“Thus, one discovers that God is certainly "exalted" and transcendent, but he looks on the "lowly" with affection while he turns his face away from the proud as a sign of rejection and judgment (cf. v. 6). As Isaiah proclaimed: "For thus says he who is high and exalted, living eternally, whose name is the Holy One: On high I dwell, and in holiness, and with the crushed and dejected in spirit, to revive the spirits of the dejected, to revive the hearts of the crushed" (Is 57: 15). God therefore chooses to take the side of the weak, victims, the lowliest: this is made known to all kings so that they will know what their option should be in the governing of nations. Naturally, this is not only said to kings and to all governments but also to all of us, because we too must know what choice to make, what the option is: to side with the humble and the lowliest, with the poor and the weak.”

Psalm 137

1. Confitébor tibi, Dómine, in toto corde meo: * quóniam audísti verba oris mei.
I will praise you, O Lord, with my whole heart: for you have heard the words of my mouth.

2. In conspéctu Angelórum psallam tibi: * adorábo ad templum sanctum tuum, et confitébor nómini tuo.
I will sing praise to you in the sight of the angels: I will worship towards your holy temple, and I will give glory to your name.

3. Super misericórdia tua, et veritáte tua: * quóniam magnificásti super omne, nomen sanctum tuum.
For your mercy, and for your truth: for you have magnified your holy name above all.

 
4. In quacúmque die invocávero te, exáudi me: * multiplicábis in ánima mea virtútem.
In what day soever I shall call upon you, hear me: you shall multiply strength in my soul.

5 Confiteántur tibi, Dómine, omnes reges terræ: * quia audiérunt ómnia verba oris tui.
May all the kings of the earth give glory to you: for they have heard all the words of your mouth.

6. Et cantent in viis Dómini: * quóniam magna est glória Dómini.
And let them sing in the ways of the Lord: for great is the glory of the Lord.

7. Quóniam excélsus Dóminus, et humília réspicit: * et alta a longe cognóscit.
For the Lord is high, and looks on the low: and the high he knows afar off.

Si ambulávero in médio tribulatiónis, vivificábis me: * et super iram inimicórum meórum extendísti manum tuam, et salvum me fecit déxtera tua.
Dóminus retríbuet pro me: * Dómine, misericórdia tua in sæculum: ópera mánuum tuárum ne despícias.

The next part of this series of notes on Psalm 137 can be found here. 

Monday, November 28, 2011

Psalm 137/3: God's saving mercy and truth


Peterborough Psalter: mercy and truth
c1260
Today I want to pick up my lectio divina notes mini-series on Psalm 137, with a look at verses 3&4:

1. Confitébor tibi, Dómine, in toto corde meo: * quóniam audísti verba oris mei.
I will praise you, O Lord, with my whole heart: for you have heard the words of my mouth.

2. In conspéctu Angelórum psallam tibi: * adorábo ad templum sanctum tuum, et confitébor nómini tuo.
I will sing praise to you in the sight of the angels: I will worship towards your holy temple, and I will give glory to your name.

3. Super misericórdia tua, et veritáte tua: * quóniam magnificásti super omne, nomen sanctum tuum.
For your mercy, and for your truth: for you have magnified your holy name above all.

4. In quacúmque die invocávero te, exáudi me: * multiplicábis in ánima mea virtútem.
In what day soever I shall call upon you, hear me: you shall multiply strength in my soul.

Looking at the Latin

Super misericórdia tua = With your mercy

super +acc=above, upon, over, in, on; +abl= about, concerning; with, on, upon, for, because of.

misericordia, ae, mercy, kindness, favor, compassion, loving-kindness.

et veritáte tua = and your truth

veritas, atis, truth. grace, kindness ,goodness, fidelity to promises, Faithfulness

Mercy and truth and used here, though some translations change this to ‘mercy and faithfulness’ or other permutations in an effort to more closely reflect the shades of meaning in the Hebrew. But ‘mercy and truth’ have the weight of the Christian tradition behind them in both East and West, a combination of words used in the Latin of many of the psalms and elsewhere in Scripture, with many icons depicting the angels of mercy and truth going out before God, or alternatively as in the miniature above, as two of the four 'daughters of God' (with peace and justice).

quóniam magnificásti = for you have magnified

magnifico, avi, atum, are to praise, glorify, extol, magnify

super omne = over/above every/all = above all things

nomen sanctum tuum = your holy name

Note: ‘super’ is not governing ‘name’ here.

omnis, e, all, each, every; subst., all men, all things, everything
nomen, mis, n. name; God himself; the perfections of God, His glory, majesty, wisdom, power, goodness
sanctus, a, um, holy, holy person

In quacúmque die =in whatever day
invocávero te = I will call you
exáudi me = hear me

=whenever I call, you hear me

quacumque - by whatever way, wherever, wheresoever
dies, ei, m. and /.; fem. a day, the natural day
invoco, avi, atum, are, to invoke, call upon (God); to put trust in
exaudio, ivi, Itum, ire, to hear, hearken to, listen to, give heed to; to regard, answer.

multiplicábis = you have multiplied
in ánima mea =in my soul
virtútem = strength

=you will increase the strength of my soul

multiplico, avi, atum, are to multiply, increase; to grow, flourish
virtus, utis, f strength, power, might; an army, host; the angels.; the heavenly bodies, the sun, moon, and stars

God’s truth and mercy

The first two verses of Psalm 137 are about the speaker’s commitment to praising and adoring God with all his might. These two verses talk about why.

The first, and overarching reason, is that God exercises his mercy and truth towards us. St John Chrysostom comments that he is giving praise for his restoration to grace:

“What does this mean? I shall give thanks to you, he is saying, for enjoying great care: it is not for my own good deeds that I have gained repossession of my homeland and sight of the Temple, but from your mercy and your lovingkindness. For these I adore you, for these I confess to you, that though worthy of punishment and retribution and rightly deserving to languish constantly in foreign parts you have given me swift return…”

St Augustine takes the point further, and suggests that in this we must imitate God’s mercy and truth in our dealings with others:

“These also which You have given to me, do I according to my power give to You in return: mercy, in aiding others; truth, in judging. By these God aids us, by these we win God's favour. Rightly, therefore, All the ways of the Lord are mercy and truth. No other ways are there whereby He can come to us, no other whereby we can come to Him.”

A name above all others

The next few phrases are really elaborations of the forms that God's mercy and truth takes.  The second part of verse three points out that despite his position so far above us, God has reached down through history to aid his people. St Augustine says:

“He has magnified His holy Name over Abraham. Of Abraham was born Isaac; over that house God was magnified; then Jacob; God was magnified, who said, I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob. Then came his twelve sons. The name of the Lord was magnified over Israel. Then came the Virgin Mary. Then Christ our Lord, dying for our sins, rising again for our justification, Romans 4:25 filling the faithful with His Holy Spirit, sending forth men to proclaim throughout the Gentiles, Repent ye, etc. Matthew 3:2 Behold, He has magnified His holy Name above all things.”

Strength to the soul

And the third reason given for our praise is God’s aid to us individually in times of trouble, again a form of his mercy, or loving kindness. St Robert Bellarmine explains verse 4 as follows:

“From the fact of your having so magnified thy holy name, I ask you to hear me whenever I shall put my wants before you; for your Holy One has said, "Whatever you ask of the Father in my name he will give you." …What I earnestly beg of you is to multiply, which means to increase, not the number of my years, nor my wealth, nor my children, nor anything else of the sort; "but strength in my soul," so as to enable me to resist my evil desires, to bear all crosses with patience, to tread in the path of justice without fatigue, to offer violence to the kingdom of heaven, that thus I may ultimately come to him, "whom thou hast magnified."

Psalm 137

Confitébor tibi, Dómine, in toto corde meo: * quóniam audísti verba oris mei.
In conspéctu Angelórum psallam tibi: * adorábo ad templum sanctum tuum, et confitébor nómini tuo.
Super misericórdia tua, et veritáte tua: * quóniam magnificásti super omne, nomen sanctum tuum.
In quacúmque die invocávero te, exáudi me: * multiplicábis in ánima mea virtútem.
Confiteántur tibi, Dómine, omnes reges terræ: * quia audiérunt ómnia verba oris tui.
Et cantent in viis Dómini: * quóniam magna est glória Dómini.
Quóniam excélsus Dóminus, et humília réspicit: * et alta a longe cognóscit.
Si ambulávero in médio tribulatiónis, vivificábis me: * et super iram inimicórum meórum extendísti manum tuam, et salvum me fecit déxtera tua.
Dóminus retríbuet pro me: * Dómine, misericórdia tua in sæculum: ópera mánuum tuárum ne despícias.

The next part of this series can be found here.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Propers for the First Sunday of Advent: Psalm 24(25)



The psalm propers for the First Sunday of Advent in both the Ordinary (in theory at least; in practise they are mostly displaced by five hymn sandwich and responsorial psalm) and Extraordinary Forms draw on two psalms: Psalm 24 (25), which expresses our spiritual longing for Christ and need for repentance to prepare for his coming, and Psalm 84, which is a psalm of thanksgiving, anticipating our deliverance.

I want to take a brief look today at the first of these, Psalm 24, not least because it particularly fits my November theme of the Office of the Dead, in which it is said at Matins.

Psalm 24: The Introit, Gradual and Offertory

Selections from the first four verses of Psalm 24 are used in the Introit, Gradual and Offertory for this Sunday, but in fact the overall theme is perhaps best summarized by its last verse, which asks God to ‘Deliver Israel, O God, from all his tribulations’.  It is an alphabetical psalm in the Hebrew, and it touches on many of the key themes of Advent, including our need for guidance, forgiveness of sins, and salvation.

Here are the first four verses of the psalm:

Ad te, Dómine, levávi ánimam meam. Deus meus, in te confído, non erubéscam.
To you, O Lord, have I lifted up my soul. In you, O my God, I put my trust; let me not be ashamed

Neque irrídeant me inimíci mei: * étenim univérsi, qui sústinent te, non confundentur. Neither let my enemies laugh at me: for none of them that wait on you shall be confounded.

Confundántur omnes iníqua agéntes * supervácue.
Let all them be confounded that act unjust things without cause.

Vias tuas, Dómine, demónstra mihi * et sémitas tuas édoce me.
Show, O Lord, your ways to me, and teach me your paths.

The text I’ve given above for the Latin is the (Clementine) Vulgate, but in fact the liturgical text uses an older version of the Latin (the ‘Itala’) in places, substituting ‘expectant’ in verse 2 for ‘sustinent’ and ‘notas fac’ for ‘demonstra mihi’ in the Gradual text.



The Gospels and the psalm…

In the Extraordinary Form, the psalm text has a direct and obvious links to both the Gospel and the Epistle. St Luke Chapter 21 includes the instruction to ‘lift up your heads for your redemption is at hand’; while Romans 13:11-14 tells us to arise from sleep, put on the armour of light that withstands all enemies, and walk in the ways of the Lord.

In the rotating texts of the Ordinary Form, this year the connections between the texts are far less obvious, save perhaps for the Old Testament reading from Isaiah, which talks about those who wait for the Lord…

Friday, November 25, 2011

Psalm 137/2 - In the presence of the angels



Today I want to start a more detailed look at Psalm 137, the last psalm of Vespers of the Dead, starting with a look at verses 1 and 2:

Confitébor tibi, Dómine, in toto corde meo: * quóniam audísti verba oris mei.
I will praise you, O Lord, with my whole heart: for you have heard the words of my mouth.

In conspéctu Angelórum psallam tibi: * adorábo ad templum sanctum tuum, et confitébor nómini tuo.
I will sing praise to you in the sight of the angels: I will worship towards your holy temple, and I will give glory to your name.

The duty of thanksgiving

Most of the psalms of this Office have focused primarily on the help that we need from God as we face death, and this is certainly a theme in this psalm too.

But this psalm adds a new element, asking us to remember to give thanks for all the good things God has given us in our lives, even as it draws to a close, and reminds us once again that we are not alone, but connected already to the heavenly court through the invisible presence of the angels.

Verse 1: An offering of thanksgiving and praise

Confitébor tibi Dómine = I will give praise to you O Lord

The deponent verb confiteor has two possible meanings in Latin: to praise or give thanks, as best fits this context; or to acknowledge one’s guilt (hence the ‘confiteor’ in the Mass).

St Augustine comments that most people know of the confession of sin, but few attend to the confession of praise. I suspect the revere is more true these days, but his remarks on this are still worth reading:

“But first I remind you, that the term confession in Scripture, when we speak of confession to God, is used in two senses, of sin, and of praise. But confession of sin all know, confession of praise few attend to. So well known is confession of sin, that, wherever in Scripture we hear the words, I will confess to You, O Lord, or, we will confess to You, immediately, through habitually understanding in this way, our hands hurry to beating our breast: so entirely are men wont not to understand confession to be of anything, save of sin. But was then our Lord Jesus Christ Himself too a sinner, who says in the Gospel, I confess to You, Father, Lord of heaven and earth? He goes on to say what He confesses, that we might understand His confession to be of praise, not of sin, I confess to You, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because You have hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes. He praised the Father, he praised God, because He despises not the humble, but the proud. And such confession are we now going to hear, of praise of God, of thanksgiving.”

in toto corde meo = with all my heart

The heart (cor cordis) is often used in Scripture to mean the mind and the soul. Totus is an adjective meaning the whole, entire. What is being offered here is the person’s whole being, focused on thanksgiving.

quóniam audísti verba oris mei = because you have heard the words of my mouth

This phrase seems to have dropped out of the Hebrew Masoretic Text for some reason, but it is retained in the neo-Vulgate, probably because it links up nicely to verse 3.

audio, ivi or li, Itum, ire to hear; to hear gladly; sound forth, utter, announce; hear favorably, to grant,
verbum, i, n.,word, command, edict, also a promise; saying, speech; Law, the Eternal Son.
os, oris, n., the mouth.

Verse 2: In the presence of the angels

In conspéctu Angelórum =in the presence of the angels

conspectus, us, m. sight, presence;
angelus, i, m.an angel, spirit, messenger

The second verse is a crucial reminder that when the Church militant here on earth prays, it does so in union with the Church Triumphant, represented by the angels invisibly present at our liturgy. In the context of the Office of the Dead it is also a reminder, perhaps particularly of the aid available from our own guardian angels.  Curiously, although the Greek uses the word ‘messenger’ (angel) here, the Hebrew Masoretic Text talks about ‘the gods’ instead, particularly jarring in the context of the Temple!

psallam tibi = I will sing praises to you

psallo, ere 3 to sing to the accompaniment of a stringed instrument,; to sing the praises of God.

adorábo ad templum sanctum tuum =I will adore towards you holy temple

adoro, avi, atum, are, to worship, adore
templum, i, n. the Sanctuary or new Tabernacle on Mount Sion; a temple-like structure; heaven; a palace.
sanctus, a, um, holy, holy person

et confitébor nómini tuo = and I will give thanks to your name

nomen, mis, n. name; God himself; the perfections of God, His glory, majesty, wisdom, power, goodness,

St Benedict on the Divine Office

St Benedict, in his Rule, particularly focused on this second verse in his instructions on the correct performance of the Divine Office, urging us to be conscious of the presence of the angels while saying it:

“We believe that the divine presence is everywhere and that "the eyes of the Lord are looking on the good and the evil in every place" (Prov. 15:3). But we should believe this especially without any doubt when we are assisting at the Work of God. To that end let us be mindful always of the Prophet's words, "Serve the Lord in fear" (Ps. 2:11) and again "Sing praises wisely" and "In the sight of the Angels I will sing praise to You". Let us therefore consider how we ought to conduct ourselves in sight of the Godhead and of His Angels, and let us take part in the psalmody in such a way that our mind may be in harmony with our voice.”

Psalm 137

Confitébor tibi, Dómine, in toto corde meo: * quóniam audísti verba oris mei.
In conspéctu Angelórum psallam tibi: * adorábo ad templum sanctum tuum, et confitébor nómini tuo.
Super misericórdia tua, et veritáte tua: * quóniam magnificásti super omne, nomen sanctum tuum.
In quacúmque die invocávero te, exáudi me: * multiplicábis in ánima mea virtútem.
Confiteántur tibi, Dómine, omnes reges terræ: * quia audiérunt ómnia verba oris tui.
Et cantent in viis Dómini: * quóniam magna est glória Dómini.
Quóniam excélsus Dóminus, et humília réspicit: * et alta a longe cognóscit.
Si ambulávero in médio tribulatiónis, vivificábis me: * et super iram inimicórum meórum extendísti manum tuam, et salvum me fecit déxtera tua.
Dóminus retríbuet pro me: * Dómine, misericórdia tua in sæculum: ópera mánuum tuárum ne despícias.




This mini-series on Psalm 137 continues here.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Psalm 137: Latin study hints

Yesterday I gave a general introduction to Psalm 137.  Today, as usual, before I start on the verse by verse analysis of Psalm 137, I want to give a few pointers to help you absorb the Latin.

Grammar

If you are following the Simplicissimus Latin Reading Course (see the link in the sidebar), you are hopefully up to Unit 7, which deals with the passive subjunctive.

There is one example of this in Psalm 37, in the form of a deponent (so an active meaning even though it looks passive), namely verse 5:

Confiteántur tibi, Dómine, omnes reges terræ:
May all the kings of the earth give glory to you

If you look back at the last psalm, Psalm 114, you will find another example:

miséricors Dóminus, et justus, et Deus noster miserétur.
The Lord is merciful and just, and our God shows mercy.

But as well as absorbing the new grammar, it is also worth doing some revision.  So I strongly suggest going through and working out the case of some of those high frequency nouns we've previously noted, such as anima (soul), gloria (glory) and Dominus (Lord) on the various occasions they recur.  Look out too, for an important example of a third declension noun, nomen, nominis, n name:

Confitébor tibi, Dómine, in toto corde meo: quóniam audísti verba oris mei.
In conspéctu Angelórum psallam tibi: adorábo ad templum sanctum tuum, et confitébor nómini tuo.
Super misericórdia tua, et veritáte tua: quóniam magnificásti super omne, nomen sanctum tuum.
In quacúmque die invocávero te, exáudi me: multiplicábis in ánima mea virtútem.
Confiteántur tibi, Dómine, omnes reges terræ: quia audiérunt ómnia verba oris tui.
Et cantent in viis Dómini: quóniam magna est glória Dómini.
Quóniam excélsus Dóminus, et humília réspicit: et alta a longe cognóscit.
Si ambulávero in médio tribulatiónis, vivificábis me: et super iram inimicórum meórum extendísti manum tuam, et salvum me fecit déxtera tua.
Dóminus retríbuet pro me: Dómine, misericórdia tua in sæculum: ópera mánuum tuárum ne despícias.

Vocabulary revision

It is also worth taking a look through Psalm 137 to see how many of the words you already know.

First, look through and pick out the words you know (even if the endings are not the same).  Here are a few key ones I've previously highlighted:

ambulo, avi, atum, are to walk; the manner in which one orders one's life
est - he/she/it is
et - and
me – me (pronoun)
meus (mea, meum) – my, mine (adjective)
omnis, e, all, each, every; subst., all men, all things, everything
quoniam, conj., for, because, since, seeing that, whereas.
quia, conj. for, because, that. truly, surely, indeed;
sanctus, a, um, holy.
super, with, on, upon, for, because of.
tu (pronoun) - you
tuus (tuum, tua) – your, yours, referring to one person

Confitébor tibi (to you), Dómine, toto corde meo: quóniam audísti verba oris mei.
In conspéctu Angelórum psallam tibi: * adorábo ad templum sanctum tuum, et confitébor nómini tuo.
Super misericórdia tua, et veritáte tua: * quóniam magnificásti super omne (omnis), nomen sanctum tuum
In quacúmque die invocávero te, exáudi me: * multiplicábis in ánima mea virtútem.
Confiteántur tibi, Dómine, omnes reges terræ: * quia audiérunt ómnia (omnis) verba oris tui.
Et cantent in viis Dómini: * quóniam magna est glória Dómini.
Quóniam excélsus Dóminus, et humília réspicit: * et alta a longe cognóscit.
Si ambulávero (ambulo) in médio tribulatiónis, vivificábis me: * et super iram inimicórum meórum extendísti manum tuam, et salvum me fecit déxtera tua.
Dóminus retríbuet pro me: * Dómine, misericórdia tua in sæculum: ópera mánuum tuárum ne despícias.

Secondly, you may have also recognised a few words that we have already come across in the previously considered psalms, and appear often elsewhere in the psalter.  In particular:

exaudio, ivi, Itum, ire, to hear, hearken to, listen to, give heed to; to regard, answer.
misericordia, ae, mercy, kindness, favor, compassion, loving-kindness.
multiplico, avi, atum, are to multiply, increase; to grow, flourish.
medius, a, um in the middle, midst
conspectus, us, m. sight, presence

Here they are highlighted in the psalm:

Confitébor tibi, Dómine, in toto corde meo: * quóniam audísti verba oris mei.
In conspéctu Angelórum psallam tibi: * adorábo ad templum sanctum tuum, et confitébor nómini tuo.
Super misericórdia tua, et veritáte tua: * quóniam magnificásti super omne, nomen sanctum tuum.
In quacúmque die invocávero te, exáudi me: * multiplicábis in ánima mea virtútem.
Confiteántur tibi, Dómine, omnes reges terræ: * quia audiérunt ómnia verba oris tui.
Et cantent in viis Dómini: * quóniam magna est glória Dómini.
Quóniam excélsus Dóminus, et humília réspicit: * et alta a longe cognóscit.
Si ambulávero in médio tribulatiónis, vivificábis me: * et super iram inimicórum meórum extendísti manum tuam, et salvum me fecit déxtera tua.
Dóminus retríbuet pro me: * Dómine, misericórdia tua in sæculum: ópera mánuum tuárum ne despícias.

New vocabulary

Finally, a few key new words to look out for as we work through the psalm:

adoro, avi, atum, are, to worship, adore
confiteor, fessus sum, eri 2 to praise, give thanks; to confess, acknowledge one's guilt.
canto, avi, atum, are to sing, to praise in song
psallo, ere 3 to sing to the accompaniment of a stringed instrument,; to sing the praises of God.
audio, ivi or li, Itum, ire to hear; to hear gladly; sound forth, utter, announce; hear favorably, to grant,
(exaudio, ivi, Itum, ire, to hear, hearken to, listen to, give heed to; to regard, answer).
terra, ae, f. the earth
verbum, i, n.,word, command, edict, also a promise; saying, speech; Law, the Eternal Son.
veritas, atis, truth. grace, kindness ,goodness, fidelity to promises, Faithfulness
via, ae, a way, road, path, street. God's way, God's policy, way of life
manus, us, f, the hand
dexter, tera, terum; the right hand.

Finally, don't forget to take the time to listen to the psalm being read or sung aloud (see the links in the last post) and practise saying and singing it aloud yourself until you are fluent.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Introduction to Psalm 137 in the context of the Office of the Dead

The memento mori of René of Anjou, king of Naples.
(British Library, Egerton 1070 f. 53)
c1442-3
Through November I've been looking at some of the psalms of the Office of the Dead, and today I want to give a short introduction to the last psalm of Vespers of the Dead, Psalm 137(138), before embarking on a verse by verse look at it.

A psalm of thanksgiving and a last plea for help

This hymn of thanksgiving alternates between the personal concerns of the speaker, and a call for the praise of God to be spread amongst all nations.

Like most of the other psalms of this Office, it has a strong focus on the protection God offers in times of trouble, and preservation from the final death. God is to be worshipped, it argues, for his truth and mercy, for his help in times of tribulation and aid against enemies, and for his aid to the poor and marginalized. In the Office of the Dead, the last phrase of the last verse ‘the works of Thy hands O Lord, forsake not’ is used as the antiphon.

The psalm is also said at Wednesday Vespers in the Benedictine Rite (Thursday in the Roman).

Psalm 137: The text

First listen to be being read and/or or sung through in Latin so you can hear how it should sound:

Confitébor tibi, Dómine, in toto corde meo: * quóniam audísti verba oris mei.
2 In conspéctu Angelórum psallam tibi: * adorábo ad templum sanctum tuum, et confitébor nómini tuo.
3 Super misericórdia tua, et veritáte tua: * quóniam magnificásti super omne, nomen sanctum tuum.
4 In quacúmque die invocávero te, exáudi me: * multiplicábis in ánima mea virtútem.
5 Confiteántur tibi, Dómine, omnes reges terræ: * quia audiérunt ómnia verba oris tui.
6 Et cantent in viis Dómini: * quóniam magna est glória Dómini.
7 Quóniam excélsus Dóminus, et humília réspicit: * et alta a longe cognóscit.
8 Si ambulávero in médio tribulatiónis, vivificábis me: * et super iram inimicórum meórum extendísti manum tuam, et salvum me fecit déxtera tua.
9 Dóminus retríbuet pro me: * Dómine, misericórdia tua in sæculum: ópera mánuum tuárum ne despícias.



Next, in order to get a sense of the overall meaning, have a quick look at the English.  Here it is in the Coverdale translation so you can enjoy the lovely Anglican chant version sung for the Pope during his UK visit at Westminster Abbey in 2010 (warning: this is not a Catholic translation, and I will comment on some of the differences between it and one's based on the Vulgate and Neo-Vulgate as we go along in this mini-series):

I will give thanks unto thee, O Lord, with my whole heart;
even before the gods will I sing praise unto thee.
I will worship toward thy holy temple, and praise thy Name,
because of thy loving-kindness and truth; for thou hast magnified thy Name, and thy word, above all things.
When I called upon thee, thou heardest me, and enduedst my soul with much strength.
All the kings of the earth shall praise thee, O Lord; for they have heard the words of thy mouth.
Yea, they shall sing of the ways of the Lord, that great is the glory of the Lord.
For though the Lord be high, yet hath he respect unto the lowly; as for the proud, he beholdeth them afar off.
Though I walk in the midst of trouble, yet shalt thou refresh me; thou shalt stretch forth thy hand upon the furiousness of mine enemies, and thy right hand shall save me.
The Lord shall make good his loving-kindness toward me. Yea, thy mercy, O Lord, endureth for ever; despise not then the works of thine own hands.



Pope Benedict XVI on Psalm 137

Pope Benedict XVI gave a General Audience on this psalm back in 2005. Here is an extract from his talk by way of introduction:

“Psalm 138[137], the hymn of thanksgiving that we have just heard, attributed by the Judaic tradition to the patronage of David although it probably came into being in a later epoch, opens with a personal hymn by the person praying… We must be sure that however burdensome and tempestuous the trials that await us may be, we will never be left on our own, we will never fall out of the Lord's hands, those hands that created us and now sustain us on our journey through life. As St Paul was to confess: "he who has begun the good work in you will carry it through to completion" (Phil 1: 6). Thus, we too have prayed with a psalm of praise, thanksgiving and trust. Let us continue to follow this thread of hymnodic praise through the witness of a Christian hymn-writer, the great Ephrem the Syrian (fourth century), the author of texts with an extraordinary poetic and spiritual fragrance: "However great may be our wonder for you, O Lord, your glory exceeds what our tongues can express", Ephrem sang in one hymn and in another: "Praise to you, to whom all things are easy, for you are almighty".  And this is a further reason for our trust: that God has the power of mercy and uses his power for mercy. And lastly, a final quote: "Praise to you from all who understand your truth" (General Audience, Wednesday, 7 December 2005)

If you are interested in using this psalm series to help brush up or learn your Latin, you can find some notes to aid you on this here.

Or you can go straight to the first part of the phrase by phrase notes on the psalm here.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Psalm 120: I will up mine eyes unto the hills

The third psalm of Vespers of the Dead is Psalm 120 (121), in my view one of the most beautiful and most comforting of the entire psalter.

Psalm 120

Here’s the text:

Levavi oculos meos in montes, unde veniet auxilium mihi.
I have lifted up my eyes to the mountains, from whence help shall come to me.

Auxilium meum a Domino, qui fecit cælum et terram.
My help is from the Lord, who made heaven and earth.

Non det in commotionem pedem tuum, neque dormitet qui custodit te.
May he not suffer your foot to be moved: neither let him slumber that keeps you.

Ecce non dormitabit neque dormiet qui custodit Israël.
Behold he shall neither slumber nor sleep, that keeps Israel.

Dominus custodit te; Dominus protectio tua super manum dexteram tuam.
The Lord is your keeper, the Lord is your protection upon your right hand

Per diem sol non uret te, neque luna per noctem.
The sun shall not burn you by day: nor the moon by night.

Dominus custodit te ab omni malo; custodiat animam tuam Dominus.
The Lord keeps you from all evil: may the Lord keep your soul.

Dominus custodiat introitum tuum et exitum tuum, ex hoc nunc et usque in sæculum.
May the Lord keep your coming in and your going out; from henceforth now and for ever.


God our protector

In the previous psalm of this hour, the speaker has become restless with the realization that he is far from God. Here he asks for grace to accompany him on his journey towards him. The key theme of this psalm is the protection God offers the pilgrim – the verb custodire, meaning to guard or protect, is used six times in the course of eight verses, and combines with other several other synonyms for God’s help. It emphasizes God’s constant protection: day and night; our comings and goings. And it echoes in many ways, the petitions of the Lord’s prayer, asking that we not fall into temptation (our foot not be moved, v3), that we protected from all evil (v7), and that we not be led astray (v5&8).

The key verse in the context of the Office of the Dead is, I think, the last one: our coming in (to this world) and goings out from it are under God’s loving watch, and he will help us not to stumble at the end.

A setting to listen to

And finally, in terms of listening to it, although this blog is generally devoted to promoting the use of the Latin, this is one of those psalm settings for which we should embrace the 'Anglican patrimony' in my view!

Monday, November 21, 2011

Psalm 119: To the Lord I cry


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I’ve devoted November to looking at Vespers of the Office of the Dead. So far we’ve looked at Psalm 114 in some detail.

Because I’ve looked in some detail elsewhere at the three middle psalms of Vespers of the Dead, Psalms 119, 120 and 129, I’m not going to give them the verse by verse treatment here, but instead just an overview.

Yesterday I posted on Psalm 129, the fourth psalm of this Office.

Today I want to take a quick look at Psalm 119, then tomorrow I’ll look at Psalm 120, before moving to a verse by verse look at the last Psalm of Vespers of the Dead, Psalm 137.

In the traditional Roman Office, Psalm 119 is said on Monday at Vespers; in the Benedictine Office at Terce from Tuesday to Saturday.

Psalm 119

First, here is the whole psalm, in the Vulgate and Douay-Rheims translations:

Ad Dominum cum tribularer clamavi, et exaudivit me.
In my trouble I cried to the Lord: and he heard me.

Domine, libera animam meam a labiis iniquis et a lingua dolosa.
O Lord, deliver my soul from wicked lips, and a deceitful tongue.

Quid detur tibi, aut quid apponatur tibi ad linguam dolosam?
What shall be given to you, or what shall be added to you, to a deceitful tongue?

Sagittæ potentis acutæ, cum carbonibus desolatoriis.
The sharp arrows of the mighty, with coals that lay waste.

Heu mihi, quia incolatus meus prolongatus est! habitavi cum habitantibus Cedar; multum incola fuit anima mea.
Woe is me, that my sojourning is prolonged! I have dwelt with the inhabitants of Cedar: My soul has been long a sojourner.

Cum his qui oderunt pacem eram pacificus; cum loquebar illis, impugnabant me gratis.
With them that hated peace I was peaceable: when I spoke to them they fought against me without cause.

Our earthly pilgrimage draws to a close…

Psalm 119 (120), like Psalm 120 and 129, is one of the gradual psalms or pilgrim songs.

In the daily Office, it serves as a reminder that we are all on a journey towards heaven.

In the context of the Office of the Dead, the realization that the exile has been living too long far from his true home takes on a more immediate application to the situation of the dying soul. In this context, it teaches us that a key step for our spiritual progress is to detach ourselves from earthly things and remember that our true hope is not the extension of this life, but to dwell in heaven.

And it is surely a plea for protection from all the temptations as we make this final journey that might prevent us from final perseverance.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

De Profundis in the Office and the Mass



Over the last few weeks I've been looking at Psalm 114, the first psalm of Vespers of the Dead. 

One of the other psalms from this Office features heavily in today's propers in the Extraordinary Form, namely Psalm 129 (130), Out of the Deep.  The first verse of Psalm 129, actually gets two guenseys in the Propers of the 24th Sunday after Pentecost, as the Alleluia and the Offertory.

Psalm 129

First the full text of the psalm:

De profundis clamavi ad te, Domine; Domine, exaudi vocem meam.
Fiant aures tuæ intendentes in vocem deprecationis meæ.
Si iniquitates observaveris, Domine, Domine, quis sustinebit?
Quia apud te propitiatio est; et propter legem tuam sustinui te, Domine.
Sustinuit anima mea in verbo ejus: speravit anima mea in Domino.
A custodia matutina usque ad noctem, speret Israël in Domino.
Quia apud Dominum misericordia, et copiosa apud eum redemptio.
Et ipse redimet Israël ex omnibus iniquitatibus ejus.

Out of the depths I have cried to you, O Lord: Lord, hear my voice.
Let your ears be attentive to the voice of my supplication.
If you, O Lord, will mark iniquities: Lord, who shall stand it.
For with you there is merciful forgiveness: and by reason of your law, I have waited for you, O Lord. My soul has relied on his word: My soul has hoped in the Lord.
From the morning watch even until night, let Israel hope in the Lord.
Because with the Lord there is mercy: and with him plentiful redemption.
And he shall redeem Israel from all his iniquities

In the context of the Mass, the psalm clearly looks forward to the dark days of the end of the world (Out of the deep) but also suggests the promise of redemption in the Second Coming.

The medieval exegetes, Dom Gueranger points out in Liturgical Year, saw it as particularly referring to the promised conversion of the Jews in the last days. It is therefore not altogether surprising therefore that this is one of those psalms where the (pre-Christian) Septuagint Greek (and thus Vulgate) and the (medieval) Hebrew Masoretic Text are in places very different, in ways impossible to reconcile by looking for alternative readings of the Hebrew. In particular, from verse 4 onwards, the Hebrew puts much more emphasis on fear of God, and omits two references to the hope of the Christ’s redemption.

Psalm 129 is one of the most heavily used psalms liturgically and quasi-liturgically, showing its applicability not only as a collective hymn, but also as an individual prayer. As well as featuring in Vespers of the dead, it is one of the Gradual psalms and one of the seven penitential psalms. In this context, Cassiodorus suggests that in this psalm, “as penitent he cries from the depths to the Lord, asking that the great power of the Godhead be experienced by the deliverance of mankind.”

You can find some notes I've previously written on this psalm in the context of the penitential psalms, starting here.  And you can find notes on it in the context of Tuesday Vespers here.

Here is the Alleluia:



And to listen to the Offertory:

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Psalm 114: Latin Learning Hints Part B

Once again a post designed to aid those using this psalm series to learn or brush up their Latin - others can skip quickly past!

Grammar - the subjunctive mood

If you’ve been following the Simplicissimus introduction to Latin course (to download the materials see the link in the side bar on Latin resources) on a one unit a week basis since I started this psalm series (or have done some fast catching up), you should be up to Unit 6, which introduces the subjunctive mood.

There aren’t actually any examples of the present subjunctive in Psalm 114, but in the last post I gave the alternative formulation of the concluding verse from Psalm 55, which does use the subjunctive:

ut pláceam (second conjugation) coram Deo in lúmine vivéntium, or ‘so that I may please in the sight of God, in the light of the living’.

You might also recall the last verse of another psalm we have looked at in this series, Psalm 22:

Et ut inhábitem (first conjugation) in domo Dómini, in longitúdinem diérum = And that I may dwell in the house of the Lord unto length of days.

Vocabulary – the body

Psalm 114, like many of the psalms, makes reference to a number of body parts, so it might be helpful to bring together a number of the key words used in the psalms to refer (anthropomorphically) to God, to enemies, or to the speaker:

corpus –oris n body (doesn't actually occur in the pslams, but used in the Mass and NT in many places)
caro, carnis, f flesh; man, mankind; the body; every living being

caput, itis, n. the head,

Ps 3: et exáltans caput meum = and the lifter up of my head.
Ps 22: Impinguásti in óleo caput meum – You have anointed my head with oil

facies, ei, f. face, countenance, appearance; presence.
vultus, us, m., the face, countenance;

erubesco, riibui, ere 3, to redden or blush with shame, to feel ashamed

tempus, oris, n. the temples of the head

oculus, i, m the eye.
lacryma, ae, f, a tear

Ps 114: óculos meos a lácrimis – my eyes from tears

palpebra, ae, f. the eyelid..
(video, videre - to see)
auris, is, f the ear.

guttur, is, n., the throat
vox, vocis, f., the voice of a person, or, the sound of an instrument, thunder.
(audio, audire, to hear)

Ps 3: Voce mea ad Dóminum clamávi – I have cried to the Lord with my voice
Ps 114: vocem oratiónis meæ = the voice of my prayer

labium, ii, n., a lip.

lingua, ae, f., the tongue;

dens, dentis, m. a tooth

Ps 3: dentes peccatórum contrivísti = You have broken the teeth of sinners

maxilla, ae, f. the jawbone, the jaw.

barba, ae, f, the beard

cor, cordis, n., the heart, regarded as the seat of the faculties, feelings, emotions, passions; the mind, the soul.

dexter, tera, terum; the right hand.

manus, us, f., hand

pes, pedis, m. the foot

Ps 114: pedes meos a lapsu = my feet from falling

lumbus, i, m.t the loin; pi. the loins, the reins

Vocabulary listing for Psalm 114

And here is the full vocabulary list for Psalm 114 in alphabetical order, based mainly on Britt’s Dictionary of the Psalter:

a, ab, from, by
anima ae f soul
auris, is, f. the ear.
benefacio, feci, factum, ere 3, to do well; to do good to, to deal kindly with, to deal bountifully
circumdo, dedi, datum, are, to surround, beset, encompass with a hostile intent; to gather round
converto, verti, versum, ere 3, to turn, change, alter; refresh; bring back; convert, turn from sin;
custodio, ivi or ii, itum, ire to guard, watch, keep;to maintain, to hold steadfastly.
de about, concerning, down from
deprecatio, ois, f prayer, supplication, entreaty
dies, ei, m. and fem. a day, the natural day
diligo, lexi, lectum, ere 3 to love;to flatter, make pretence of loving.
dolor, oris, m. , pain whether of body or of mind, grief, sorrow, affliction.
dominus i m, lord
ego, mei, I, me
eripio, ripui, reptum, ere 3 to snatch away, to rescue, deliver
et, and
exaudio, ivi, Itum, ire, to hear, hearken to, listen to, give heed to; to regard, answer.
humilio, avi, atum, are to humble, bring low.
in+ablative, in, on
inclino, avi, atum, are, to bend, incline
infernus, i, m. Sheol; the nether world, the underworld, the grave, the kingdom of the dead,
invenio, veni, ventum, ire, to find
invoco, avi, atum, are, to invoke, call upon (God); to put trust in
justus, a, um Of God: just; Of men: as a subst., a just man, the just.
lacryma, ae, f, a tear.
lapsus, us, m. slipping, a fall; a moral fall.
libero, avi, atum, are to free, set free, deliver
meus, a, um my, mine
misereor, sertus sum, eri 2 to pity, have mercy on.
misericors, cordis merciful, abounding in mercy.
mors, mortis, f., death
nomen, nominis, n name
noster, nostra, nostrum, our, ours
oculus, i, the eye..
oratio, onis, f. prayer, supplication
parvulus, a, um , small, little; children, little ones, the simple, the guileless,
periculum, i, n., peril, danger.
pes, pedis, m. the foot
placeo, ui, itum, ere 2, to please, be well pleasing to
quia, conj. for, because, that. truly, surely, indeed;
quoniam, conj., for, because, since, seeing that, whereas.
regio, onis, f, land, country.
requies, ei, f., rest; a resting-place.
tribulatio, onis, f. , trouble, distress, anguish, affliction, tribulation
tu, tui, you
vivus, a, um alive, living.
vox, vocis, f., the voice of a person, or, the sound of an instrument, thunder

Friday, November 18, 2011

Psalm 114/9: The land of the living



Today I want to conclude this verse by verse look at Psalm 114 verse with a quick look at the last two verses:

Quia erípuit ánimam meam de morte: óculos meos a lácrimis, pedes meos a lapsu.
For he has delivered my soul from death: my eyes from tears, my feet from falling.

Placébo Dómino in regióne vivórum.
I will please the Lord in the land of the living.

In fact these two verses are almost identical in sentiment to Psalm 55:13, which says:

Quóniam eripuísti ánimam meam de morte, et pedes meos de lapsu: ut pláceam coram Deo in lúmine vivéntium
Because you have delivered my soul from death, my feet from falling: that I may please in the sight of God, in the light of the living.

Looking at the Latin

Quia erípuit =for he has freed/rescued

In Psalm 114 the verb is in the third person; in Psalm 55, the second - Quóniam eripuísti = For you have freed

ánimam meam de morte = my soul from death

óculos meos a lácrimis = my eyes from tears [omitted in Ps 55]

One can perhaps see an allusion to this phrase in Revelation 21:4, where the description of heaven includes “ he will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning nor crying nor pain any more, for the former things have passed away."

pedes meos a lapsu = my feet from falling

Psalm 55 changes the preposition to de, but not meaning

Placébo Dómino = I will be pleasing to the Lord

The Masoretic Hebrew Text , followed by the neo-Vulgate here has ‘I will walk in the presence of the Lord’ – but the two expressions are equivalent. The idea of walking in God’s ways is used fairly frequently this way (see Psalm 1 for example). In Psalm 55, a third structure is used, a purpose clause (ut +subjunctive), to suggest that God freed him in order that he can please him: ut pláceam coram Deo, or ‘that I may please in the sight/presence of God’

in regióne vivórum=in the land of the living

The land of the living stands in contrast to Sheol/hell, the kingdom of the dead. In this context it can mean either earth or heaven. Psalm 55 changes this to ‘in the light of the living’.

Key words:

eripio, ripui, reptum, ere 3 to snatch away, to rescue, deliver
mors, mortis, f, death
oculus, i, the eye..
lacryma, ae, f, a tear.
pes, pedis, m. the foot
lapsus, us, m. slipping, a fall; a moral fall.
placeo, ui, itum, ere 2, to please, be well pleasing to
regio, onis, f, land, country.
vivus, a, um alive, living.

Death of the body and death of the soul

St Robert Bellarmine’s commentary on Psalm 55 provides a nice summation of the multiple levels of meaning of these verses: ‘you have delivered my soul from death’, he explains, refers firstly to God saving the psalmist from the death of the body in this world on many occasions; ‘my feet from falling’, he sees as preserving him from falling into sin in the face of temptations, that is from death of the soul.

He concludes:

"That I may please in the sight of God, in the light of the living;" in the light of this life, which those who are dead enjoy not; and in the light of grace, which infidels and sinners have not; that I may, at length, come to the light of eternal glory enjoyed by those who alone, and properly speaking, can be classed among the living. These words are applicable to Christ, who, by his Resurrection, was delivered from the death of the body, without any possibility of his ever again being subject to it, or to any suffering, and lives and reigns on the right hand of the Father, "in the light of the living." Amen.

In this light, we can understand St John Chrysostom’s explanation that the verse means that death is something to be welcomed if we are in a state of grace, not feared:

“…What to others seems deserving of tears merits prayer in his view, and what to others is deserving of joy and satisfaction merits groaning in his view. Is it not deserving of groaning to be in a foreign country and dispatched far from our homeland? Is it not deserving of joy to put in at a tranquil haven and be admitted to the city on high whence pain, distress and groaning have fled? And how does this affect me, a sinner, you say? Do you see that it is not death that is the cause of grief, but a bad conscience? So stop being a sinner, and death will be something desirable for you.”

Psalm 114

Diléxi, quóniam exáudiet dóminus vocem oratiónis meæ.

2 Quia inclinávit aurem suam mihi: et in diébus meis invocábo.
3 Circumdedérunt me dolóres mortis:  et perícula inférni invenérunt me.
4 Tribulatiónem et dolórem invéni: et nomen Dómini invocávi.
5O Dómine, líbera ánimam meam:  miséricors Dóminus, et justus, et Deus noster miserétur.
6 Custódiens párvulos Dóminus: humiliátus sum, et liberávit me.
7 Convértere, ánima mea, in réquiem tuam: quia Dóminus benefécit tibi.
8 Quia erípuit ánimam meam de morte: óculos meos a lácrimis, pedes meos a lapsu.
9 Placébo Dómino in regióne vivórum.