|Peterborough Psalter: mercy and truth|
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."
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.