Thursday, May 29, 2014

Psalm 66 v5-6: The spiritual harvest

The final verses of Psalm 66 invoke the idea of the harvest as a metaphor for the conversion of the world to Christ.

5
V/NV
Confiteántur tibi pópuli, Deus, confiteántur tibi pópuli omnes: * terra dedit fructum suum.
JH
Confiteantur tibi populi, Deus ; confiteantur tibi populi omnes. Terra dedit germen suum

ξομολογησάσθωσάν σοι λαοί  θεός ξομολογησάσθωσάν σοι λαο πάντες γ δωκεν τν καρπν

Confiteántur tibi pópuli, Deus= Let the peoples give thanks to you God
confiteántur tibi pópuli omnes= let all the peoples give thanks
terra dedit fructum sum= the earth has given its fruit.

fructus, us, m.  fruit, produce; the fruit of the soil, trees; a reward; the fruit of the womb, children, posterity
do, dedi, datum, are, to give,


DR
Let the people, O God, confess to you: let all the people give praise to you:  The earth has yielded her fruit.
Brenton
Let the peoples, O God, give thanks to thee; let all the peoples give thanks to thee. The earth has yielded her fruit;
MD
Let the nations praise Thee O God, let all the nations praise Thee: the land hath yielded its harvest
Cover
Let the people praise thee, O God; let all the people praise thee. Then shall the earth bring forth her increase;

St Jerome, following a line of interpretation suggested by Tertullian and Origen, takes up the harvest metaphor:

"The earth has yielded its fruit," earth, holy Mary who is from our earth, from our seed, from this clay, from this slime, from Adam. "Dust you are, and to dust you shall return." This earth has yielded its fruit; what it lost in the Garden of Eden, it has found in the Son. "The earth has yielded its fruit." First, it brought forth a flower. It says in the Song of Songs, "I am the flower of the field and the lily of the valleys." This flower has become fruit that we might eat it, that we might consume its flesh. Would you like to know what this fruit is? A Virgin from a virgin, the Lord from the handmaid, God from man, Son from mother, fruit from earth. Listen to what the fruit itself says: "Unless the grain of wheat fall into the ground and die, it cannot bring forth much fruit." "The earth has yielded its fruit"; it has yielded a grain of wheat. Because the grain of wheat has fallen into the ground and died, it produces many fruits. The fruit is multiplied in the head of grain. Because one had fallen, it rose again with many; one grain of wheat has fallen into the ground and a fruitful harvest came of it."  


6
V/NV
Benedícat nos Deus, Deus noster, benedícat nos Deus: * et métuant eum omnes fines terræ.
JH
benedicat nobis Deus Deus noster. Benedicat nobis Deus, et timeant eum onmes fines terrae.

ατς ελογήσαι μς  θες  θες μν 8 ελογήσαι μς  θεός κα φοβηθήτωσαν ατν πάντα τ πέρατα τς γς

Benedícat nos Deus= May God bless us
Deus noster= our God
benedícat nos Deus= may God bless us
et métuant eum=and may they fear him
omnes fines terræ=all the ends of the earth

metuo, ui, ere 3 , to fear, be afraid.
finis, is, m., a boundary, limit, border; territory; end

DR
May God, our God bless us,  may God bless us: and all the ends of the earth fear him
Brenton
let God, our God bless us Let God bless us; and let all the ends of the earth fear him.
MD
The Lord our God hath blessed us; may God bless us, and all the ends of the earth fear him.
RSV
God, our God, has blessed us. God has blessed us; let all the ends of the earth fear him!
Cover
and God, even our own God, shall give us his blessing. God shall bless us; and all the ends of the world shall fear him

This final blessing, with its thrice repeated invocation of God, foreshadows the Trinity in the eyes of most Christian interpreters, as St Robert Bellarmine points out:

"Henceforth will come the agreeable change, that God will open his hands, and replenish us with all manner of blessings, spiritual ones especially; and, on the other hand, all men, in the most quarters of the globe, will fear the true God with a holy fear, and will pay him the tribute of obedience and praise. The name of God, three times repeated here, while it shows the affections of the Prophet, would also seem to foreshadow the mystery of the Most Holy Trinity, which was so clearly preached by Christ and his apostles."

Psalm 66: Deus misereátur nostri
Vulgate
Douay-Rheims
In finem, in hymnis. Psalmus cantici David.
Unto the end, in hymns, a psalm of a canticle for David.
1 Deus misereátur nostri, et benedícat nobis: * illúminet vultum suum super nos, et misereátur nostri.
May God have mercy on us, and bless us: may he   cause the light of his countenance to shine upon us, and may he have mercy on us.
2  Ut cognoscámus in terra viam tuam, * in ómnibus Géntibus salutáre tuum.
3 That we may know your way upon earth: your salvation in all nations.
3  Confiteántur tibi pópuli, Deus: * confiteántur tibi pópuli omnes.
4 Let people confess to you, O God: let all people give praise to you.
4  Læténtur et exsúltent Gentes: * quóniam júdicas pópulos in æquitáte, et Gentes in terra dírigis.
5 Let the nations be glad and rejoice: for you judge the people with justice, and direct the nations upon earth.
5  Confiteántur tibi pópuli, Deus, confiteántur tibi pópuli omnes: * terra dedit fructum suum.
6 Let the people, O God, confess to you: let all the people give praise to you: 7 The earth has yielded her fruit.
Benedícat nos Deus, Deus noster, benedícat nos Deus: * et métuant eum omnes fines terræ.
8 may God bless us: and all the ends of the earth fear him

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Psalm 66 v3-4 - Let the nations rejoice and be glad

Verses 3 and 4 of Psalm 66 turn the focus to the salvation of the whole world.

3
V/NV/JH
Confiteántur tibi pópuli, Deus:  confiteántur tibi pópuli omnes.

ξομολογησάσθωσάν σοι λαοί  θεός ξομολογησάσθωσάν σοι λαο πάντες

Confiteántur (let them give thanks/praise)  tibi (to you) pópuli (the peoples), Deus (God) confiteántur (let them give thanks) tibi (to you) pópuli (the peoples) omnes (all)

confiteor, fessus sum, eri 2  to praise, give thanks; to confess, acknowledge one's guilt.
populus, i, people, the chosen people.

DR
Let the nations, O God, give thanks to thee; let all the nations give thanks to thee.
Brenton
Let the peoples, O God, give thanks to thee; let all the peoples give thanks to thee.
MD
Let the nations praise Thee O God, let all the nations praise Thee
Cover
Let the people praise thee, O God; yea, let all the people praise thee.

Bellarmine explains the missionary imperative:

"The Prophet's desires being in accordance with true charity, he wished that Christ should come upon earth; first, for the glory of God, then, for the benefit of mankind; and in this verse therefore, he prays that all manner of people should praise, thank, and glorify him for so great and so universal a favor; that all worship and veneration of false gods should cease, and the true God alone be acknowledged by all."

4
V/NV
Læténtur et exsúltent gentes: * quóniam júdicas pópulos in æquitáte, et gentes in terra dírigis.
JH
Laetentur et laudent gentes, quoniam iudicas populos in aequitate, et gentium quae in terra sunt ductor es sempiternus.

εφρανθήτωσαν κα γαλλιάσθωσαν θνη τι κρινες λαος ν εθύτητι κα θνη ν τ γ δηγήσεις διάψαλμα

Læténtur (let them rejoice) et (and) exsúltent (let them exsult) gentes (the nations) quóniam (because) júdicas (you judge) pópulos (the peoples) in æquitáte (with fairness) et (and) gentes (the nations) in terra (on the earth) dírigis (you direct)

laetor, atus sum, ari,  to rejoice, be joyful, take delight in
exsulto, avi, atum, are  to spring, leap, or jump up; to exult, to rejoice exceedingly
quoniam, conj.,  for, because, since, seeing that, whereas.
aequitas, atis,   justice, fairness, uprightness, goodness
dirigo, rexi, rectum, ere 3 to direct, guide, set aright; to prosper, to be established.

DR
Let the nations be glad and rejoice: for you judge the people with justice, and direct the nations upon earth.
Brenton
Let the nations rejoice and exult, for thou shalt judge the peoples in justice, and shalt guide the nations on the earth.
MD
Let the tribes be glad and rejoice, for Thou judgest the people rightly, Thou guidest the nations upon the earth.
Cover
O let the nations rejoice and be glad; for thou shalt judge the folk righteously, and govern the nations upon earth.

As Bellarmine explains, this verse goes to the social reign of Christ:

"Next to the glory of God, let the benefit of mankind be acknowledged; and, therefore, "let the nations be glad and rejoice;" let all manner of people rejoice; "for thou," through Christ, "judgest the people with justice;" you have destroyed the power of the tyrannical prince of darkness, and established the just authority of the Church in its stead. "And directest the nations upon earth;" governing and guiding them, by your most wholesome laws, to the harbor of life everlasting."

Psalm 66: Deus misereátur nostri
Vulgate
Douay-Rheims
In finem, in hymnis. Psalmus cantici David.
Unto the end, in hymns, a psalm of a canticle for David.
1 Deus misereátur nostri, et benedícat nobis: * illúminet vultum suum super nos, et misereátur nostri.
May God have mercy on us, and bless us: may he   cause the light of his countenance to shine upon us, and may he have mercy on us.
2  Ut cognoscámus in terra viam tuam, * in ómnibus Géntibus salutáre tuum.
3 That we may know your way upon earth: your salvation in all nations.
3  Confiteántur tibi pópuli, Deus: * confiteántur tibi pópuli omnes.
4 Let people confess to you, O God: let all people give praise to you.
4  Læténtur et exsúltent Gentes: * quóniam júdicas pópulos in æquitáte, et Gentes in terra dírigis.
5 Let the nations be glad and rejoice: for you judge the people with justice, and direct the nations upon earth.
5  Confiteántur tibi pópuli, Deus, confiteántur tibi pópuli omnes: * terra dedit fructum suum.
6 Let the people, O God, confess to you: let all the people give praise to you: 7 The earth has yielded her fruit.
6  Benedícat nos Deus, Deus noster, benedícat nos Deus: * et métuant eum omnes fines terræ.
8 may God bless us: and all the ends of the earth fear him


And you can find the final set of notes on this psalm here.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Psalm 66: verses 1-2 - God the farmer of our souls

The opening verses of Psalm 66 invoke God's blessing on us.

1
V
Deus misereátur nostri, et benedícat nobis: * illúminet vultum suum super nos, et misereátur nostri.
NV
Deus misereatur nostri et benedicat nobis; illuminet vultum suum super nos
JH
Deus misereatur nostri, et benedicat nobis; inlustret faciem suam super nos.

 θες οκτιρήσαι μς κα ελογήσαι μς πιφάναι τ πρόσωπον ατο φ' μς διάψαλμα
  
Deus (God) misereátur (he may be merciful/let him be merciful)  nostri (to us) et (and) benedícat (he may bless)  nobis (us) illúminet (he may shine) vultum (the face) suum (his) super (over) nos (us)
et (and) misereátur (he may be merciful) nostri (to us)

misereor, sertus sum, eri 2 to pity, have mercy on.
benedico, dixi, dictum, ere 3  to bless, to praise, bless, give thanks to (God);  to be well pleased with, to take pleasure in (with acc or dat)
illumino, avi, atum, are , to make or cause to shine, to enlighten, illuminate. to shine forth, to shine.
vultus, us, m., the face, countenance;
super, with, on, upon, for, because of.
nos we

DR
May God have mercy on us, and bless us: may he cause the light of his countenance to shine upon us, and may he have mercy on us.
Brenton
God be merciful to us, and bless us; and cause his face to shine upon us.
MD
May God show us grace and blessing, may His face shine upon us and He be gracious to us
RSV
May God be gracious to us and bless us and make his face to shine upon us,
Cover
God be merciful unto us, and bless us, and show us the light of his countenance, and be merciful unto us,

St Augustine's commentary on this psalm starts from the idea that this is a harvest thanksgiving song, but points to God's work in our souls as analogous to that of a farmer:

"When God blesses us, we grow, and when we bless the Lord, we grow, to us both are profitable. He is not increased by our blessing, nor is He lessened by our cursing. He that curses the Lord, is himself lessened: he that blesses the Lord, is himself increased. First, there is in us the blessing of the Lord, and the consequence is that we also bless the Lord. That is the rain, this the fruit. Therefore there is rendered as it were fruit to God the Husbandman, raining upon and tilling us. Let us chant these words with no barren devotion, with no empty voice, but with true heart. For most evidently God the Father has been called a Husbandman (John 15:1). The Apostle says, God's husbandry you are, God's building you are (1 Corinthians 3:9). In things visible of this world, the vine is not a building, and a building is not a vineyard: but we are the vineyard of the Lord, because He tills us for fruit; the building of God we are, since He who tills us, dwells in us. And what says the same Apostle? I have planted, Apollos has watered, but the increase God has given. Therefore neither he that plants is anything, nor he that waters, but He that gives the increase, even God (1 Corinthians 3:6-7)." 

2
V
Ut cognoscámus in terra viam tuam, * in ómnibus géntibus salutáre tuum.
NV
ut cognoscatur in terra via tua, in omnibus gentibus salutare tuum.
JH
Ut nota fiat in terra uia tua, in uniuersis gentibus salus tua.

το γνναι ν τ γ τν δόν σου ν πσιν θνεσιν τ σωτήριόν σου

The Neo-Vulgate follows the Masoretic text in changing the cognoscamus to the third person ‘That your way be known…’

Ut (that) cognoscámus (we may know) in terra (on the earth) viam (the way/path) tuam (your) in ómnibus (amongst all) géntibus (the peoples/nations) salutáre (salvation) tuum (your)

cognosco, gnovi, gnitum, ere 3, to know, see, learn, perceive, be come acquainted with.
terra, ae,   the earth,
via, ae, a way, road, path, street. God's way, God's policy, way of life
omnis, e, all, each, every; subst., all men, all things, everything
gens, gentis,sing., people, nation, the chosen
salutaris, e  a Savior, Helper, used of God;  help, saving help, rescue, salvation,

DR
That we may know your way upon earth: your salvation in all nations
Brenton
That men may know thy way on the earth, thy salvation among all nations
MD
That we may know Thy way upon the earth, Thy saving power among all nations.
RSV
that thy way may be known upon earth, thy saving power among all nations.
Cover
that thy way may be known upon earth, thy saving health among all nations.

St Robert Bellarmine draws out the Christological significance of this verse:

"The reason why he so ardently longs for the light of God countenance is, that through that divine light we may, in the land of darkness know the way to God, to our country from which we have been so long exiled in darkness and the shadow of death; which way most undoubtedly is Christ himself, who says, "I am the way;" and not only the way, but the light through which it is to be known, of which Isaias 9, says, "The people that walked in darkness have seen a great light: to the that dwelt in the region of the shadow of death light is risen." "Thy salvation in all nations" explains the first part of the verse, that the Savior may be known among all nations."

 Psalm 66: Deus misereátur nostri
Vulgate
Douay-Rheims
In finem, in hymnis. Psalmus cantici David.
Unto the end, in hymns, a psalm of a canticle for David.
1 Deus misereátur nostri, et benedícat nobis: * illúminet vultum suum super nos, et misereátur nostri.
May God have mercy on us, and bless us: may he   cause the light of his countenance to shine upon us, and may he have mercy on us.
2  Ut cognoscámus in terra viam tuam, * in ómnibus Géntibus salutáre tuum.
3 That we may know your way upon earth: your salvation in all nations.
3  Confiteántur tibi pópuli, Deus: * confiteántur tibi pópuli omnes.
4 Let people confess to you, O God: let all people give praise to you.
4  Læténtur et exsúltent Gentes: * quóniam júdicas pópulos in æquitáte, et Gentes in terra dírigis.
5 Let the nations be glad and rejoice: for you judge the people with justice, and direct the nations upon earth.
5  Confiteántur tibi pópuli, Deus, confiteántur tibi pópuli omnes: * terra dedit fructum suum.
6 Let the people, O God, confess to you: let all the people give praise to you: 7 The earth has yielded her fruit.
6  Benedícat nos Deus, Deus noster, benedícat nos Deus: * et métuant eum omnes fines terræ.
8 may God bless us: and all the ends of the earth fear him


You can find the next set of notes in this series here.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Introduction to Psalm 66

I want to turn now, in this series on the repeated psalms of the Benedictine Office, to the psalms of Lauds.  In both the older form of the Roman Office and the Benedictine Rite, Psalm 66 is said daily at Lauds by way of an invitatory psalm.

The first point to note is that there is a certain symmetry in the opening and closing psalms of Lauds: the three closing psalms are calls to us, to praise and sing to God.  The two opening psalms, though, Psalm 66 and 50, thrice ask God to have pity, or mercy, on us (misereatur, miserere).  

That is not to suggest though, that this is a dark or penitential psalm; far from it.

 Psalm 66: Deus misereátur nostri
Vulgate
Douay-Rheims
In finem, in hymnis. Psalmus cantici David.
Unto the end, in hymns, a psalm of a canticle for David.
1 Deus misereátur nostri, et benedícat nobis: * illúminet vultum suum super nos, et misereátur nostri.
May God have mercy on us, and bless us: may he cause the light of his countenance to shine upon us, and may he have mercy on us.
2  Ut cognoscámus in terra viam tuam, * in ómnibus Géntibus salutáre tuum.
3 That we may know your way upon earth: your salvation in all nations.
3  Confiteántur tibi pópuli, Deus: * confiteántur tibi pópuli omnes.
4 Let people confess to you, O God: let all people give praise to you.
4  Læténtur et exsúltent Gentes: * quóniam júdicas pópulos in æquitáte, et Gentes in terra dírigis.
5 Let the nations be glad and rejoice: for you judge the people with justice, and direct the nations upon earth.
5  Confiteántur tibi pópuli, Deus, confiteántur tibi pópuli omnes: * terra dedit fructum suum.
6 Let the people, O God, confess to you: let all the people give praise to you: 7 The earth has yielded her fruit.
6  Benedícat nos Deus, Deus noster, benedícat nos Deus: * et métuant eum omnes fines terræ.
8 may God bless us: and all the ends of the earth fear him


Light in the darkness

The use of the use of psalm as a Lauds invitatory  is surely due to the image it provides, in verse 1, of Christ as the light of the world, making it particularly appropriate to this hour said at daybreak. 

Indeed,  the first two verses take us straight to what is surely the core of this psalm's message, presenting Christ as the saviour of all nations,  foreshadowing the words of the Nunc Dimittis Canticle (Luke 2:30-32): "Because my eyes have seen thy salvation, Which thou hast prepared before the face of all peoples:  A light to the revelation of the Gentiles, and the glory of thy people Israel." 

Psalm 66 is surely the quintessential psalm of the Church’s mission, and Acts 28: 28 quotes verse 2 in just this context, as the conclusion of St Paul's last mission speech, saying ' Be it known therefore to you, that this salvation of God is sent to the Gentiles, and they will hear it'. 

The Benedictine Office is of course primarily an office for monks, but monks are not of course exempt from the Gospel imperative of mission. Rather, both their prayers and witness is vital to it.  Contemplative prayer, the Church teaches us, is a vital element of evangelisation. 

But so too is practical action, and it is of course no accident that monks have so often been missionaries.  St Benedict himself, St Gregory the Great tells us, converted the shepherds who came across him in the wilds of Subiaco, and on his arrival at Monte Cassino converted the pagans who had worshipped there.  This psalm, then, is a daily reminder of the connection we all have to the mission of the Church to the world.

The blessing

Psalm 66 is above all a joyous and uplifting hymn of praise. 

It begins and ends with a request that God bless us, using a blessing formula echoes that of Numbers 6:24-26.  The blessing in Numbers though, is for the people of Israel alone:

"And the Lord spoke to Moses, saying: Say to Aaron and his sons: Thus shall you bless the children of Israel, and you shall say to them: The Lord bless thee, and keep thee. The Lord shew his face to thee, and have mercy on thee. The Lord turn his countenance to thee, and give thee peace.  And they shall invoke my name upon the children of Israel, and I will bless them."

In Psalm 66 though, the blessing is requested not just for us, but for all people's that they may come to know and worship God.  Twice it asks for God to have mercy and loving kindness: a reminder that our own merits could never win us anything; everything depends on God.  Between these two pleas for mercy, we ask for the blessing of the sense of God's presence and approval (the light of his countenance).  God of course is always present, always aware of us; we however need prompts to practice our awareness of the presence of God.

The psalm  asks God to guide us, and all the nations in his ways.  And it ends with a warning: God's reach extends everywhere, and we should fear him, albeit out of filial devotion.

Some commentators argue that this was originally a harvest song.  Perhaps, but if so, the harvest in question is surely primarily a spiritual one, for the psalm asks us to pray for the salvation of all the world.

You can find the first set of verse by verse notes on this psalm here.