Monday, July 18, 2016

Psalm 1 (Monday Prime) - Short summaries


Mainz Psalterium00.jpg
Mainz, 1457

Psalm 1 is an introduction to and summary of the entire book of psalms.  It puts before us the two paths we take: the path of good, or the way of evil, and tells us the fate of those on each of these roads.  

Above all, though, it puts before us the example of the perfect ‘just’ man, that is, Christ.

The central theme of the psalm is that the just man finds happiness by meditating on the law of the Lord and desiring to do God’s will.



Vulgate
Douay Rheims translation


Beátus vir, qui non ábiit in consílio impiórum, et in via peccatórum non stetit, * et in cáthedra pestiléntiæ non sedit
Blessed is the man who has not walked in the counsel of the ungodly, nor stood in the way of sinners, nor sat in the chair of pestilence:
2  Sed in lege Dómini volúntas ejus, * et in lege ejus meditábitur die ac nocte.
But his will is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he shall meditate day and night.
3  Et erit tamquam lignum, quod plantátum est secus decúrsus aquárum, * quod fructum suum dabit in témpore suo:
And he shall be like a tree which is planted near the running waters, which shall bring forth its fruit, in due season.
4  Et fólium ejus non défluet: * et ómnia quæcúmque fáciet, prosperabúntur.
And his leaf shall not fall off: and all whatsoever he shall do shall prosper.
Non sic ímpii, non sic: * sed tamquam pulvis, quem prójicit ventus a fácie terræ.
Not so the wicked, not so: but like the dust, which the wind drives from the face of the earth.
6  Ideo non resúrgent ímpii in judício: * neque peccatóres in concílio justórum.
Therefore the wicked shall not rise again in judgment: nor sinners in the council of the just.
7  Quóniam novit Dóminus viam justórum: * et iter impiórum períbit.
For the Lord knows the way of the just: and the way of the wicked shall perish.

To learn the pronunciation, I suggest listening first to Psalm 1 read aloud slowly in Latin.

Then go listen to it being sung recto tono by the monks of Le Barroux at Prime on Monday (any Monday will do, but here is a link to one of their archived files).

Psalm 1 is an introduction to and summary of the entire book of psalms.  

It puts before us the two paths we take: the path of good, or the way of evil, and tells us the fate of those on each of these roads.  Above all, though, it puts before us the example of the perfect ‘just’ man, that is, Christ.  The central theme of the psalm is that the just man finds happiness by meditating on the law of the Lord and desiring to do God’s will.

In the Benedictine Office, Monday has a strong focus on the life of Christ from the Incarnation to Christ’s baptism and temptation, and St Augustine points to the image of the tree by the running water as symbolising baptism and the grace wrought by Christ.

St Jerome draws attention to the similarity of the imagery in Revelation 22:

“And he showed me a river of water of life [grace], clear as crystal, proceeding from the throne of God and of the Lamb. In the midst of the street thereof, and on both sides of the river, was the tree of life [Our Lord], bearing twelve fruits [the apostles], yielding its fruits every month [meaning of Scripture understood with the help of the Holy Ghost]: the leaves of the tree [that do not wither, the words of Scripture] for the healing of the nations.”



Short summaries

St Augustine:
This is to be understood of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord Man....
St Cassiodorus:
The reason why this psalm has no heading is because nothing was to be put before our Head the Lord Saviour, of whom the psalmist intended wholly to speak, for undoubtedly He is the Beginning of all things; as He says in the gospel, I am the beginning, and this is why I speak to you.' 
Though other psalms also say much about Him, none of them speaks in this way about His behaviour on earth. Since all that is to be said refers to Him, He is rightly set at the head of the sacred work, since He is known to be Prince of all things. Whatever instruction is given concerning the past, whatever advice about the present, whatever makes us more careful about the future, all that the book has to offer refers to the instruction offered by the blessed Man. 
...So it is to the Lord Christ that are rightly applied the words: Who hath not walked in the counsel of the ungodly, nor stood in the way of sinners, nor sat in the chair of pestilence, and so on. What a marvellous sequence, a truly heavenly arrangement, since in our interest the beginning of the psalms has sprouted from Him who is clearly the moving Gate to heaven! So let us hasten to enter with the utmost joy where we observe our Advocate himself as the open Gate...
St Thomas Aquinas:
...this first psalm expresses the feeling of a man who is lifting his eyes to the entire state of the world and considering how some do well, while others fail. And Christ is the first among the blessed ones; Adam the first among the evil ones. They agree in happiness, which all seek; they differ in the way to happiness, and in the outcome, because some reach it, and others do not. In the first part is described the way of all to happiness. In the second part is described the outcome, where it says, And he shall be like a tree which is planted near the running waters etc. In the way of evil men, three things are to be considered. First, deliberation about sin, and this is in cogitation. Second, there is consent and execution. Third, inducing others to something similar, and this is the worst...
St Alphonsus Liguori:
The object that David proposes to himself in this psalm is to convince us that God bestows happiness only upon the just in order to be happy; we must, therefore, begin to be just.

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