Monday, December 30, 2013

Psalm 5 and the Incarnation: verses 1-4a


Our Lady Gate of Dawn
I've separately provided an introduction to Psalm 5, so now a look at the psalm verse by verse.

The first few verses set the scene, explaining why this is a psalm suitable for celebrating the Incarnation, but yet also features in the Office of the Dead.

Verse by verse notes

1. Verba mea áuribus pércipe, Dómine, intéllege clamórem meum Give ear, O Lord, to my words, understand my cry
Verba (words) mea (my) áuribus (with ears) pércipe (hear), Dómine (O Lord) intéllege (listen/understand/consider) clamórem (the cry/prayer) meum (my).

auris, is, f  the ear.
percipio, cepi, ceptum, ere 3 to perceive;  Auribus percipe, hear, hearken, give ear to.
intelligo, lexi, lectum, ere 3  understand, give heed to something, to consider
clamor, oris, m. a cry, an earnest prayer for help. a cry of distress

Chrysostom sees this verse as the cry of prudent bride, the Church, to Christ the bridegroom; we can also view it as the call of the religious, the bride of Christ, to her husband for aid this day and henceforth, or the cry of the Christian to our heavenly Father, especially as we face death or danger.

2. Inténde voci oratiónis meæ: * rex meus et Deus meus Hearken to the voice of my prayer, O my King and my God
Inténde (give heed) voci (to the voice) oratiónis (of the prayer) meæ (of my) rex (king) meus (my) et (and) Deus (God) meus (my)

intendo, tendi, tentum, ere 3,  stretch or bend a bow; direct one's steps, betake one's self; give heed to, pay attention to
vox, vocis, f, the voice of a person, or, the sound of an instrument, thunder. 
oratio, onis, f. prayer, supplication
rex, regis, m.  a king, ruler, lawgiver

St Benedict instructs to be humble when approaching God for help: If we wish to prefer a petition to men of high station, we do not presume to do it without humility and respect; how much more ought we to supplicate the Lord God of all things with all humility and pure devotion (RB 20).  This verse, calling God not friend, but rather King and God ,reminds us how to approach Christ with our supplications.  In the context of recalling the Incarnation, these titles resonate with those listed by Isaiah in the Christmas Canticle extracted from Chapter 9: Wonderful Counsellor, Mighty God, Father to the world to come, Prince of peace.

3. Quóniam ad te orábo: * Dómine, mane exáudies vocem meam. For to you will I pray: O Lord, in the morning you shall hear my voice
Quóniam (for) ad (to) te (you) orábo (I will pray) Dómine (O Lord), mane (in the morning/early) exáudies (you will hear) vocem (the voice) meam (my)

oro, avi, atum, are to pray, supplicate, pray to, offer petition to.
mane, adv. (prop, an indecl. subst.), early, morning
exaudio, ivi, Itum, ire, to hear, hearken to, listen to, give heed to; to regard, answer.

The person praying the Office will be reminded, here, of the absolute priority of the Opus Dei, the dedication of the first-fruits of the day to God in Matins and Lauds.  St John Chrysostom warns: "Let those heed this who come to prayer only after countless activities. Not she, on the contrary: from the dawn of day she gave the first-fruits. "One must precede sunrise in giving you thanks," Scripture says, remember, "and entreat you before the dawning of the day."  Similarly, St Thomas Aquinas sees in this verse the necessity of our preparation for the making of vows in prayer.

4a. Mane astábo tibi et vidébo: In the morning I will stand before you, and I will see
Mane (early/in the morning) astábo (I will stand) tibi (to you) et (and) vidébo (I will see/consider/keep watch) 

asto stand,  to stand at, by, or near; stand by the side of to help, to assist; to wait upon;  be, remain.
video, vidi, visum, ere 2,  to see, behold; consider; experience, undergo, suffer, realize; keep watch, look for, meditate on
volo, volui, velle, to will, wish, desire; to have pleasure or delight in, to love, hold dear, desire
iniquitas, atis, f iniquity, injustice, sin.

I noted above that the references to the early morning can be interpreted literally.  There is, however, a less literal meaning of morning here though that I think is also worth pondering, and that lies in the idea of the dawning of the age of the new heaven and new earth that will follow the final judgment.

The Old Testament is for us, a time when we as a people walked in darkness, as Isaiah points out in Chapter 9.  The Incarnation changes that, for Christ is the light of the world.  All the same, Christ's work in this world is not yet complete, and will not be until the Second Coming.  Accordingly, the age ushered in by the New Testament is, as Cardinal Ratzinger pointed out in his book The Spirit of the Liturgy, an inbetween time, a time of 'already and not yet' when darkness and light are intermingled, for the City of God is not here yet.

In this time, the liturgy, Pope Benedict argued, provides an image of what is yet to come, standing between shadow and reality.  And those who pray the Office - monks and nuns, above all - play a key role in keeping us fixed on that light.  They are those that keep watch, standing before God to dispel the darkness of the world.  Cassiodorus, for example, comments: 

"Hence one who prays in the morning is recognised as en­gaged in bright conversation, for we speak of morning when darkness is dispelled and the clear daylight gleams. The Church, which ac­knowledges that she has embraced the darkness of sinners, and that she is composed of the darkness of this world, rightly believes that she is heard when she bursts into the light of conversation with heaven. Moreover she repeated the word, morning, because she felt that through God's kindness her mind was inevitably shining whenever in her prayers she stood before God."

It is this verse, perhaps that makes this psalm particularly appropriate for Monday Lauds, a day when we particularly recall the Incarnation.  But its place in the Office of the Dead reflects the fact at the end of our lives everyone of us must face the light of the day, all of us must stand before God awaiting judgment.

Psalm 5: Verba mei auribus
Vulgate
Douay-Rheims
In finem, pro ea quæ hæreditatem consequitur. Psalmus David.
Unto the end, for her that obtains the inheritance. A psalm for David.
Verba mea áuribus pércipe, Dómine, * intéllege clamórem meum.
Give ear, O Lord, to my words, understand my cry
2. Inténde voci oratiónis meæ: * Rex meus et Deus meus
Hearken to the voice of my prayer, O my King and my God
3  Quóniam ad te orábo: * Dómine, mane exáudies vocem meam.
For to you will I pray: O Lord, in the morning you shall hear my voice
4  Mane astábo tibi et vidébo: * quóniam non Deus volens iniquitátem tu es.
In the morning I will stand before you, and I will see: because you are not a God that wills iniquity.
5  Neque habitábit juxta te malígnus: * neque permanébunt injústi ante óculos tuos.
Neither shall the wicked dwell near you: nor shall the unjust abide before your eyes.
6  Odísti omnes, qui operántur iniquitátem: * perdes omnes, qui loquúntur mendácium.
You hate all the workers of iniquity: you will destroy all that speak a lie
7  Virum sánguinum et dolósum abominábitur Dóminus: * ego autem in multitúdine misericórdiæ tuæ.
The bloody and the deceitful man the Lord will abhor.  But as for me in the multitude of your mercy,
8  Introíbo in domum tuam: * adorábo ad templum sanctum tuum in timóre tuo.
I will come into your house; I will worship towards your holy temple, in your fear.
9  Dómine, deduc me in justítia tua: * propter inimícos meos dírige in conspéctu tuo viam meam.
Conduct me, O Lord, in your justice: because of my enemies, direct my way in your sight.
10  Quóniam non est in ore eórum véritas: * cor eórum vanum est.
For there is no truth in their mouth: their heart is vain.
11  Sepúlcrum patens est guttur eórum, linguis suis dolóse agébant, * júdica illos, Deus.
Their throat is an open sepulchre: they dealt deceitfully with their tongues: judge them, O God
12  Décidant a cogitatiónibus suis, secúndum multitúdinem impietátum eórum expélle eos, * quóniam irritavérunt te, Dómine.
Let them fall from their devices: according to the   multitude of their wickednesses cast them out: for they have provoked you, O Lord.
13  Et læténtur omnes, qui sperant in te, * in ætérnum exsultábunt: et habitábis in eis.
But let all them be glad that hope in you: they shall rejoice for ever, and you shall dwell in them.
14  Et gloriabúntur in te omnes, qui díligunt nomen tuum: * quóniam tu benedíces justo.
And all they that love your name shall glory in you. For you will bless the just.
15  Dómine, ut scuto bonæ voluntátis tuæ * coronásti nos.
O Lord, you have crowned us, as with a shield of   your good will.

You can find the next set of verse by verse notes on Psalm 5 here.

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