Thursday, July 31, 2014

Introduction to the Gradual Psalms/1: The text

Paolo Uccelli: Presentation of the Virgin Mary in the Temple

The Gradual psalms, Psalms 119 to 133, were pilgrim songs that were probably originally sung on the journey to Jerusalem and as the pilgrims ascended each of the fifteen steps of the Temple at Jerusalem at the three major feasts of the Jewish calendar when all males were required to travel to Jerusalem.  Although they certainly can be given a literal context, they seem always to have been interpreted as a mystical ascent to heaven as well.

I want, in this series, to consider the Gradual Psalms from three closely related perspectives: firstly in the context of Scripture; secondly as part of a devotional tradition with ancient roots; and thirdly as they are used in the Benedictine form of the Office.

These three perspectives are not, of course, completely unrelated; far from it.  All the same, it is, I think, helpful to tease them out separately before looking at the psalms individually.

The Gradual psalms were appropriated for Christian use very early however, and are traditionally sung as a group at penitential times of the year and for the dead.  Most of the Fathers see them as tracing the mystical ascent of the Christian in the spiritual life: they show us how to climb Jacob’s ladder to heaven and grow in virtue.

Below is the text of the Gradual Psalms in Latin and English (Douay-Rheims), organised as they are traditionally said as a devotion, as three groups of five psalms, with short prayers in between each set.

The first five are traditionally offered for the dead, and are said without antiphon or Gloria Patri.  The second and third set are offered for the living.

I: For the dead

[Psalm 119]

 Ad Dóminum cum tribulárer clamávi: * et exaudívit me.
In my trouble I cried to the Lord: and he heard me.
2  Dómine, líbera ánimam meam a lábiis iníquis, * et a lingua dolósa.
2 O Lord, deliver my soul from wicked lips, and a deceitful tongue.
3  Quid detur tibi, aut quid apponátur tibi * ad linguam dolósam?
3 What shall be given to you, or what shall be added to you, to a deceitful tongue?
4  Sagíttæ poténtis acútæ, * cum carbónibus desolatóriis
4 The sharp arrows of the mighty, with coals that lay waste.
5  Heu mihi, quia incolátus meus prolongátus est: habitávi cum habitántibus Cedar: * multum íncola fuit ánima mea.
5 Woe is me, that my sojourning is prolonged! I have dwelt with the inhabitants of Cedar: My soul has been long a sojourner.
6  Cum his, qui odérunt pacem, eram pacíficus: * cum loquébar illis, impugnábant me gratis.
With them that hated peace I was peaceable: when I spoke to them they fought against me without cause.
[Psalm 120]

1  Levávi óculos meos in montes, * unde véniet auxílium mihi.
I have lifted up my eyes to the mountains, from whence help shall come to me.
2  Auxílium meum a Dómino, * qui fecit cælum et terram.
2 My help is from the Lord, who made heaven and earth.
3  Non det in commotiónem pedem tuum: * neque dormítet qui custódit te.
3 May he not suffer your foot to be moved: neither let him slumber that keeps you.
4  Ecce, non dormitábit neque dórmiet, * qui custódit Israël.
4 Behold he shall neither slumber nor sleep, that keeps Israel.
5  Dóminus custódit te, Dóminus protéctio tua, * super manum déxteram tuam.
5 The Lord is your keeper, the Lord is your protection upon your right hand.
6  Per diem sol non uret te: * neque luna per noctem.
6 The sun shall not burn you by day: nor the moon by night.
7  Dóminus custódit te ab omni malo: * custódiat ánimam tuam Dóminus.
7 The Lord keeps you from all evil: may the Lord keep your soul.
8  Dóminus custódiat intróitum tuum, et éxitum tuum: * ex hoc nunc, et usque in sæculum.

8 May the Lord keep your coming in and your going out; from henceforth now and for ever.
[Psalm 121]

1  Lætátus sum in his, quæ dicta sunt mihi: *  In domum Dómini íbimus.
I rejoiced at the things that were said to me: We shall go into the house of the Lord.
2  Stantes erant pedes nostri, * in átriis tuis, Jerúsalem.
2 Our feet were standing in your courts, O Jerusalem.
3  Jerúsalem, quæ ædificátur ut cívitas: * cujus participátio ejus in idípsum.
Jerusalem, which is built as a city, which is compact together.
4  Illuc enim ascendérunt tribus, tribus Dómini: * testimónium Israël ad confiténdum nómini Dómini.
4 For thither did the tribes go up, the tribes of the Lord: the testimony of Israel, to praise the name of the Lord.
5  Quia illic sedérunt sedes in judício, * sedes super domum David.
5 Because their seats have sat in judgment, seats upon the house of David.
6  Rogáte quæ ad pacem sunt Jerúsalem: * et abundántia diligéntibus te:
6 Pray for the things that are for the peace of Jerusalem: and abundance for them that love you. 
7  Fiat pax in virtúte tua: * et abundántia in túrribus tuis.
7 Let peace be in your strength: and abundance in your towers
8  Propter fratres meos, et próximos meos, * loquébar pacem de te:
8 For the sake of my brethren, and of my neighbours, I spoke peace of you.
9  Propter domum Dómini, Dei nostri, * quæsívi bona tibi.
9 Because of the house of the Lord our God, I have sought good things for you.
 [Psalm 122]

 Ad te levávi óculos meos, * qui hábitas in cælis.
To you have I lifted up my eyes, who dwell in heaven.
2  Ecce sicut óculi servórum, * in mánibus dominórum suórum.
2 Behold as the eyes of servants are on the hands of their masters,
3  Sicut óculi ancíllæ in mánibus dóminæ suæ: * ita óculi nostri ad Dóminum, Deum nostrum, donec misereátur nostri.
As the eyes of the handmaid are on the hands of her mistress: so are our eyes unto the Lord our God, until he have mercy on us.
4  Miserére nostri, Dómine, miserére nostri: * quia multum repléti sumus despectióne:
3 Have mercy on us, O Lord, have mercy on us: for we are greatly filled with contempt.
5  Quia multum repléta est ánima nostra: * oppróbrium abundántibus, et despéctio supérbis.
4 For our soul is greatly filled: we are a reproach to the rich, and contempt to the proud
[Psalm 123]

 Nisi quia Dóminus erat in nobis, dicat nunc Israël: * nisi quia Dóminus erat in nobis,
If it had not been that the Lord was with us, let Israel now say: 2 If it had not been that the Lord was with us,
2  Cum exsúrgerent hómines in nos, * forte vivos deglutíssent nos:
When men rose up against us, 3 perhaps they had swallowed us up alive.
3  Cum irascerétur furor eórum in nos, * fórsitan aqua absorbuísset nos.
When their fury was enkindled against us, perhaps the waters had swallowed us up.
4  Torréntem pertransívit ánima nostra: * fórsitan pertransísset ánima nostra aquam intolerábilem.
5 Our soul has passed through a torrent: perhaps our soul had passed through a water insupportable.
5  Benedíctus Dóminus * qui non dedit nos, in captiónem déntibus eórum.
6 Blessed be the Lord, who has not given us to be a prey to their teeth.
6  Anima nostra sicut passer erépta est * de láqueo venántium.
7 Our soul has been delivered as a sparrow out of the snare of the fowlers.
7  Láqueus contrítus est, * et nos liberáti sumus.
The snare is broken, and we are delivered.
8  Adjutórium nostrum in nómine Dómini, * qui fecit cælum et terram.
8 Our help is in the name of the Lord, who made heaven and earth


Requiem aeternam* dona eis, Domine.
Eternal rest* grant unto them. O Lord.
Et lux perpetua* luceat eis.
And let perpetual light* shine upon them.


(Said kneeling:)

Pater noster ..... (secreto, usque ad)
V. Et ne nos inducas in tentationem.
R. Sed libera nos a malo.


Our Father .... (silently, as far as)
V. And lead us not into temptation.
R. But deliver us from evil.
V. A porta inferni.
R. Erue, Domine, animas eorum
V. From the gate of hell.
R. O Lord, deliver their souls.
V. Requiescant in pace.
R. Amen.
V. May they rest in peace.
R. Amen.
V. Domine, exaudi orationem meam.
R. Et clamor meus ad te veniat.
V. O Lord, hear my prayer.
R. And let my cry come unto Thee.
Oremus: Absolve, quaesumus, Domine, animas famulorum famularumque tuarum et omnium fidelium defunctorum, ab omni vinculo delictorum: ut in resurrectionis gloria inter Sanctos et Electos tuos resuscitati respirent. Per Christum Dominum nostrum.
R. Amen.
Let us pray: Deliver, we beseech Thee, O Lord, the souls of Thy servants and handmaids, and all the faithful departed from the bonds of their sins: grant that they may live and breathe again in a glorious resurrection among all Thy Saints and Elect.   Through Christ our Lord.
R. Amen.

II: For the forgiveness of our sins

[Psalm 124]

1 Qui confídunt in Dómino, sicut mons Sion: * non commovébitur in ætérnum, qui hábitat in Jerúsalem.
They that trust in the Lord shall be as mount Sion: he shall not be moved for ever that dwells 2 in Jerusalem.
2  Montes in circúitu ejus: * et Dóminus in circúitu pópuli sui, ex hoc nunc et usque in sæculum.
Mountains are round about it: so the Lord is round about his people from henceforth now and for ever.
3  Quia non relínquet Dóminus virgam peccatórum super sortem justórum: * ut non exténdant justi ad iniquitátem manus suas.
3 For the Lord will not leave the rod of sinners upon the lot of the just: that the just may not stretch forth their hands to iniquity.
4  Bénefac, Dómine, bonis, * et rectis corde.
4 Do good, O Lord, to those that are good, and to the upright of heart.
5  Declinántes autem in obligatiónes addúcet Dóminus cum operántibus iniquitátem: * pax super Israël.
5 But such as turn aside into bonds, the Lord shall lead out with the workers of iniquity: peace upon Israel.
Gloria Patri et Filio et Spiritui Sancto.
Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost
Sicut erat in principio, et nunc, et semper, et in saecula saeculorum. Amen.
As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.
[Psalm 125]

1  In converténdo Dóminus captivitátem Sion: * facti sumus sicut consoláti:
When the Lord brought back the captivity of Sion, we became like men comforted.
2  Tunc replétum est gáudio os nostrum: * et lingua nostra exsultatióne
2 Then was our mouth filled with gladness; and our tongue with joy.
3  Tunc dicent inter Gentes: * Magnificávit Dóminus fácere cum eis.
Then shall they say among the Gentiles: The Lord has done great things for them.
4  Magnificávit Dóminus fácere nobíscum: * facti sumus lætántes.
3 The Lord has done great things for us; we have become joyful.
5  Convérte, Dómine, captivitátem nostram, * sicut torrens in austro.
4 Turn again our captivity, O Lord, as a stream in the south.
6  Qui séminant in lácrimis, * in exsultatióne metent.
5 They that sow in tears shall reap in joy.

7  Eúntes ibant et flebant, * mitténtes sémina sua.
6 Going they went and wept, casting their seeds.
8  Veniéntes autem vénient cum exsultatióne, * portántes manípulos suos.
7 But coming they shall come with joyfulness, carrying their sheaves.
Gloria Patri et Filio et Spiritui Sancto.
Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost
Sicut erat in principio, et nunc, et semper, et in saecula saeculorum. Amen.

As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.
[Psalm 126]

1.  Nisi Dominus aedificaverit domum:*
 in vanum laboraverunt qui aedificant eam.
Unless the Lord build the house, they labour in vain that build it.
2.  Nisi Dominus custodierit civitatem:*
frustra vigilat qui custodit eam.
Unless the Lord keep the city, he watches in vain that keeps it.
3.  Vanum est vobis ante lucem surgere:*
surgite, postquam sederitis, qui manducatis panem doloris.
2 It is vain for you to rise before light, rise after you have sitten, you that eat the bread of sorrow.

4.  Cum dederit dilectis suis somnum:*
ecce hereditas Domini, filii merces, fructus ventris.
When he shall give sleep to his beloved, 3 behold the inheritance of the Lord are children: the reward, the fruit of the womb.
5.  Sicut sagittae in manu potentis:* ita filii excussorum.
4 As arrows in the hand of the mighty, so the children of them that have been shaken.
6.  Beatus vir, qui implevit desiderium suum ex ipsis:* non confundetur cum loquetur inimicis suis in porta.
5 Blessed is the man that has filled the desire with them; he shall not be confounded when he shall speak to his enemies in the gate
Gloria Patri et Filio et Spiritui Sancto.
Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost
Sicut erat in principio, et nunc, et semper, et in saecula saeculorum. Amen.

As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.
[Psalm 127]

1 Beáti omnes, qui timent Dóminum,* qui ámbulant in viis ejus.
Blessed are all they that fear the Lord: that walk in his ways.
2  Labóres mánuum tuárum quia manducábis: * beátus es, et bene tibi erit.
2 For you shall eat the labours of your hands: blessed are you, and it shall be well with you.
3  Uxor tua sicut vitis abúndans: * in latéribus domus tuæ.
3 Your wife as a fruitful vine, on the sides of your house.
4  Fílii tui sicut novéllæ olivárum: * in circúitu mensæ tuæ.
Your children as olive plants, round about your table.
5  Ecce sic benedicétur homo, * qui timet Dóminum.
4 Behold, thus shall the man be blessed that fears the Lord.
6  Benedícat tibi Dóminus ex Sion: *  et vídeas bona Jerúsalem ómnibus diébus vitæ tuæ.
5 May the Lord bless you out of Sion: and may you see the good things of Jerusalem all the days of your life.
7  Et vídeas fílios filiórum tuórum: * pacem super Israël.
6 And may you see your children's children, peace upon Israel.
Gloria Patri et Filio et Spiritui Sancto.
Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost
Sicut erat in principio, et nunc, et semper, et in saecula saeculorum. Amen.
As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.

[Psalm 128]

1 Sæpe expugnavérunt me a juventúte mea, * dicat nunc Israël:
Often have they fought against me from my youth, let Israel now say.
2  Sæpe expugnavérunt me a juventúte mea: * étenim non potuérunt mihi.
2 Often have they fought against me from my youth: but they could not prevail over me.
3  Supra dorsum meum fabricavérunt peccatóres: * prolongavérunt iniquitátem suam.
3 The wicked have wrought upon my back: they have lengthened their iniquity.
4  Dóminus justus concídit cervíces peccatórum: * confundántur et convertántur retrórsum omnes, qui odérunt Sion.
4 The Lord who is just will cut the necks of sinners: 5 Let them all be confounded and turned back that hate Sion.
5  Fiant sicut fœnum tectórum: * quod priúsquam evellátur exáruit:
6 Let them be as grass upon the tops of houses: which withers before it be plucked up:
6  De quo non implévit manum suam qui metit: * et sinum suum qui manípulos cólligit.
7 Who with the mower fills not his hand: nor he that gathers sheaves his bosom.
7  Et non dixérunt qui præteríbant: Benedíctio Dómini super vos: * benedíximus vobis in nómine Dómini.
8 And they that passed by have not said: The blessing of the Lord be upon you: we have blessed you in the name of the Lord.
Gloria Patri et Filio et Spiritui Sancto.
Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost
Sicut erat in principio, et nunc, et semper, et in saecula saeculorum. Amen.

(Said kneeling):

As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.

Kyrie eleison. Christe eleison. Kyrie eleison.
Lord have mercy. Christ have mercy. Lord have mercy.
Pater noster ..... (secreto, usque ad)
V. Et ne nos inducas in tentationem.
R. Sed libera nos a malo.
Our Father .... (silently, as far as)
V. And lead us not into temptation.
R. But deliver us from evil.
V. Memento Congregationis tuae.
R. Quam possedisti ab initio.
V. Remember Thy congregation.
R. Which Thou hast possessed from the beginning.
V. Domine, exaudi orationem meam.
R. Et clamor meus ad te veniat.
V. O Lord, hear my prayer.
R. And let my cry come unto Thee.
V. Dominus vobiscum.
R. Et cum spiritu tuo.
V. The Lord be with you.
R. And with thy spirit.
Oremus:
Deus, cui proprium est misereri semper et parcere: suscipe deprecationem nostram; ut nos, et omnes famulos tuos, quos delictorum catena constringit, miseratio tuae pietatis clementer absolvat. Per Christum Dominum nostrum.
R. Amen.
Let us pray:
O God, whose property is always to have mercy and to spare, receive our petitions, and grant that we and all Thy servants who are bound by the chain of sin, may, by the compassion of Thy goodness, mercifully be absolved. Through Christ our Lord.
R. Amen.

III For our intentions



[Psalm 129]

De profúndis clamávi ad te, Dómine: * Dómine, exáudi vocem meam :
Out of the depths I have cried to you, O Lord:
2  Fiant aures tuæ intendéntes: * in vocem deprecatiónis meæ.
2 Lord, hear my voice. Let your ears be attentive to the voice of my supplication.
3  Si iniquitátes observáveris, Dómine: * Dómine, quis sustinébit?
3 If you, O Lord, will mark iniquities: Lord, who shall stand it.
4  Quia apud te propitiátio est: * et propter legem tuam sustínui te, Dómine.
4 For with you there is merciful forgiveness: and by reason of your law, I have waited for you, O Lord.
5  Sustinuit ánima mea in verbo ejus: * sperávit ánima mea in Dómino.
My soul has relied on his word: 5 My soul has hoped in the Lord.
6  A custódia matutína usque ad noctem: * speret Israël in Dómino.
6 From the morning watch even until night, let Israel hope in the Lord.
7  Quia apud Dóminum misericórdia: * et copiósa apud eum redémptio.
7 Because with the Lord there is mercy: and with him plentiful redemption.
8  Et ipse rédimet Israël: * ex ómnibus iniquitátibus ejus.
8 And he shall redeem Israel from all his iniquities

Gloria Patri et Filio et Spiritui Sancto.
Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost
Sicut erat in principio, et nunc, et semper, et in saecula saeculorum. Amen.
As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.

[Psalm 130]

1 Dómine, non est exaltátum cor meum: * neque eláti sunt óculi mei.
1 Lord, my heart is not exalted: nor are my eyes lofty
2  Neque ambulávi in magnis: * neque in mirabílibus super me.
Neither have I walked in great matters, nor in wonderful things above me.
3  Si non humíliter sentiébam: * sed exaltávi ánimam meam.
2 If I was not humbly minded, but exalted my soul:
4  Sicut ablactátus est super matre sua: * ita retribútio in ánima mea.
As a child that is weaned is towards his mother, so reward in my soul
5  Speret Israël in Dómino: * ex hoc nunc et usque in sæculum.
3 Let Israel hope in the Lord, from henceforth now and for ever.
Gloria Patri et Filio et Spiritui Sancto.
Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost
Sicut erat in principio, et nunc, et semper, et in saecula saeculorum. Amen.
As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.
[Psalm 131]
A gradual canticle.
1 Meménto, Dómine, David, * et omnis mansuetúdinis ejus :
O Lord remember David, and all his meekness.

2  Sicut jurávit Dómino, * votum vovit Deo Jacob
2 How he swore to the Lord, he vowed a vow to the God of Jacob:
3  Si introíero in tabernáculum domus meæ, * si ascéndero in lectum strati mei :
3 If I shall enter into the tabernacle of my house: if I shall go up into the bed wherein I lie:
4  Si dédero somnum óculis meis, * et pálpebris meis dormitatiónem :
4 If I shall give sleep to my eyes, or slumber to my eyelids,
5  Et réquiem tempóribus meis : donec invéniam locum Dómino, * tabernáculum Deo Jacob.
5 or rest to my temples: until I find out a place for the Lord, a tabernacle for the God of Jacob.
6. Ecce audívimus eam in Ephrata: * invénimus eam in campis silvæ.
6 Behold we have heard of it in Ephrata: we have found it in the fields of the wood.
7  Introíbimus in tabernáculum ejus: * adorábimus in loco, ubi stetérunt pedes ejus.
7 We will go into his tabernacle: we will adore in the place where his feet stood. .
8  Surge, Dómine, in réquiem tuam, * tu et arca sanctificatiónis tuæ.
8 Arise, O Lord, into your resting place: you and the ark, which you have sanctified
9  Sacerdótes tui induántur justítiam: * et sancti tui exsúltent.
9 Let your priests be clothed with justice: and let your saints rejoice.
10  Propter David, servum tuum: * non avértas fáciem Christi tui.
10 For your servant David's sake, turn not away the face of your anointed.
11  Jurávit Dóminus David veritátem, et non frustrábitur eam: * de fructu ventris tui ponam super sedem tuam.
11 The Lord has sworn truth to David, and he will not make it void: of the fruit of your womb I will set upon your throne
12  Si custodíerint fílii tui testaméntum meum: * et testimónia mea hæc, quæ docébo eos.
12 If your children will keep my covenant, and these my testimonies which I shall teach them:
13  Et fílii eórum usque in sæculum: * sedébunt super sedem tuam.
Their children also for evermore shall sit upon your throne.
14  Quóniam elégit Dóminus Sion: * elégit eam in habitatiónem sibi.
13 For the Lord has chosen Sion: he has chosen it for his dwelling.
15  Hæc réquies mea in sæculum sæculi: * hic habitábo, quóniam elégi eam.
14 This is my rest for ever and ever: here will I dwell, for I have chosen it.
16  Víduam ejus benedícens benedícam: * páuperes ejus saturábo pánibus.
15 Blessing I will bless her widow: I will satisfy her poor with bread.
17  Sacerdótes ejus índuam salutári: * et sancti ejus exsultatióne exsultábunt.
16 I will clothe her priests with salvation, and her saints shall rejoice with exceeding great joy.
18  Illuc prodúcam cornu David: * parávi lucérnam Christo meo.
17 There will I bring forth a horn to David: I have prepared a lamp for my anointed
19  Inimícos ejus índuam confusióne: * super ipsum autem efflorébit sanctificátio mea.
18 His enemies I will clothe with confusion: but upon him shall my sanctification flourish.
Gloria Patri et Filio et Spiritui Sancto.
Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost
Sicut erat in principio, et nunc, et semper, et in saecula saeculorum. Amen.
As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.
[Psalm 132]

Ecce quam bonum, et quam jucúndum * habitáre fratres in unum.
Behold how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity:
2  Sicut unguéntum in cápite, * quod descéndit in barbam, barbam Aaron.
Like the precious ointment on the head, that ran down upon the beard, the beard of Aaron,
3  Quod descéndit in oram vestiménti ejus: * sicut ros Hermon, qui descéndit in montem Sion.
which ran down to the skirt of his garment: As the dew of Hermon, which descends upon mount Sion.
4  Quóniam illic mandávit Dóminus benedictiónem, * et vitam usque in sæculum
For there the Lord has commanded blessing, and life for evermore.
Gloria Patri et Filio et Spiritui Sancto.
Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost
Sicut erat in principio, et nunc, et semper, et in saecula saeculorum. Amen.

As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.
[Psalm 133]

1 Ecce nunc benedícite Dóminum, * omnes servi Dómini
Behold now bless the Lord, all you servants of the Lord
2 Qui statis in domo Dómini, * in átriis domus Dei nostri.
Who stand in the house of the Lord, in the courts of the house of our God
3 In nóctibus extóllite manus vestras in sancta, * et benedícite Dóminum.
In the nights lift up your hands to the holy places, and bless the Lord.
4 Benedícat te dóminus ex sion, * qui fecit cælum et terram.
May the Lord out of Sion bless you, he that made heaven and earth.
Gloria Patri et Filio et Spiritui Sancto.
Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost
Sicut erat in principio, et nunc, et semper, et in saecula saeculorum. Amen.
As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.






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