Tuesday, November 26, 2019

Benedictine Ordo for the 2019-20 liturgical year

Traditional Benedictine Office: Ordo for 2019-20

Just to let you know that the Ordo for the upcoming liturgical year is now available from Lulu in PDF (ebook) or hardcopy format.

The Ordo provides detailed notes on the variants for feasts and seasons for those saying the Office according to the 1962 rubrics and General Calendar for the Benedictine Order.

The Ordo provides short summary guides, with page numbers to the Farnborough editions of the Monastic Diurnal, for Lauds to Vespers of the the ferial Office.

It also provides instructions for each day of the liturgical year on what changes should be made for seasons and feasts for all of the hours from Matins to Compline

Guides to the Office during each of the liturgical seasons of the year have also been included.

The schedule of dates for feasts, and instructions that go with them, can be can be used in conjunction with any older breviary or Diurnal for the Benedictine Office, although the older the book, the more feasts and other texts that may be missing.

The Ordo itself provides page number references for the Monastic Diurnal (Farnborough editions) and Antiphonale Monasticum (1934), as well as other key chant books such as the Liber Responsorialis for Matins.

Friday, November 22, 2019

Psalm 88/1: Overview

In the Benedictine Office, Psalm 88 is usually said at Matins on Fridays, divided into two parts, of which the first is shown below.

It is also used, however, in whole, on the feasts of the Nativity and the Transfiguration.

St Alphonsus Liguori commented on it that:
St. Jerome divides this psalm into three parts. The first recalls the promise, several times repeated, which God made to David to maintain always royalty in the family. The second teaches us that this promise was not entirely fulfilled in the sons according to the flesh, nor in the temporal kingdom of David. The third shows us the prophet sighing for the coming of the Messias, in whom all was to be fully realized, since he alone was to put an end to the tribulations of his people. This is the reason why the Church recites this psalm in the Office of Christmas.
This section of the psalm essentially covers the first part of this storyline.

The text of the psalm

Psalm 88/1
Intellectus Ethan Ezrahitæ.
Of understanding, for Ethan the Ezrahite.

Misericórdias Dómini * in ætérnum cantábo.
The mercies of the Lord I will sing for ever.
In generatiónem et generatiónem * annuntiábo veritátem tuam in ore meo.
I will show forth your truth with my mouth to generation and generation.
Quóniam dixísti: In ætérnum misericórdia ædificábitur in cælis: * præparábitur véritas tua in eis.
For you have said: Mercy shall be built up for ever in the heavens: your truth shall be prepared in them.
Dispósui testaméntum eléctis meis, † iurávi David, servo meo: * Usque in ætérnum præparábo semen tuum.
I have made a covenant with my elect: I have sworn to David my servant: Your seed will I settle for ever.
Et ædificábo in generatiónem et generatiónem * sedem tuam.
And I will build up your throne unto generation and generation.
Confitebúntur cæli mirabília tua, Dómine, * étenim veritátem tuam in ecclésia sanctórum.
The heavens shall confess your wonders, O Lord: and your truth in the church of the saints.
Quóniam quis in núbibus æquábitur Dómino: * símilis erit Dómino in fíliis Dei?
For who in the clouds can be compared to the Lord: or who among the sons of God shall be like to God?
Deus, qui glorificátur in consílio sanctórum: * magnus et terríbilis super omnes qui in circúitu eius sunt.
God, who is glorified in the assembly of the saints: great and terrible above all them that are about him.
Dómine, Deus virtútum, quis símilis tibi? * potens es, Dómine, et véritas tua in circúitu tuo.
O Lord God of hosts, who is like to you? You are mighty, O Lord, and your truth is round about you.
Tu domináris potestáti maris: * motum autem flúctuum eius tu mítigas.
You rule the power of the sea: and appease the motion of the waves thereof.
Tu humiliásti sicut vulnerátum, supérbum: * in bráchio virtútis tuæ dispersísti inimícos tuos.
You have humbled the proud one, as one that is slain: with the arm of your strength you have scattered your enemies.
Tui sunt cæli, et tua est terra, † orbem terræ et plenitúdinem eius tu fundásti: * aquilónem, et mare tu creásti.
Yours are the heavens, and yours is the earth: the world and the fullness thereof you have founded: The north and the sea you have created.
Thabor et Hermon in nómine tuo exsultábunt: * tuum bráchium cum poténtia.
Thabor and Hermon shall rejoice in your name: Your arm is with might.
Firmétur manus tua, et exaltétur déxtera tua: * iustítia et iudícium præparátio sedis tuæ.
Let your hand be strengthened and your right hand exalted: Justice and judgment are the preparation of your throne.
Misericórdia et véritas præcédent fáciem tuam: * beátus pópulus, qui scit iubilatiónem.
Mercy and truth shall go before your face: Blessed is the people that knows jubilation.
Dómine, in lúmine vultus tui ambulábunt, † et in nómine tuo exsultábunt tota die: * et in iustítia tua exaltabúntur.
They shall walk, O Lord, in the light of your countenance: And in your name they shall rejoice all the day, and in your justice they shall be exalted.
Quóniam glória virtútis eórum tu es: * et in beneplácito tuo exaltábitur cornu nostrum.
For you are the glory of their strength: and in your good pleasure shall our horn be exalted.
Quia Dómini est assúmptio nostra, * et Sancti Israël, regis nostri.
For our protection is of the Lord, and of our king the holy one of Israel.
Glória Patri, et Fílio, * et Spirítui Sancto.
Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost.
Sicut erat in princípio, et nunc, et semper, * et in sǽcula sæculórum. Amen.
As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.

 Scriptural and liturgical uses of the psalm

NT references
Lk1:50 (2); Jn 7:42, Acts 2:30 (4); Mt 8:23-27 (10);
RB cursus
Friday Matins I, 3
Monastic/(Roman) feasts etc
Nativity; Transfiguration
Roman pre 1911
Friday Matins
Roman post 1911
1911-62: Friday None . 1970: Wednesday Readings, wk 3
Mass propers (EF)
Precious Blood, IN (1-2)

St Augustine in the City of God

St Augustine provided an extended commentary on this psalm in his City of God (Bk 9).  The first chapter of it is set out below:
Chapter 9.— How Like the Prophecy About Christ in the 88th Psalm is to the Things Promised in Nathan's Prophecy in the Books of Samuel.
Wherefore also in the 88th Psalm, of which the title is, An instruction for himself by Ethan the Israelite, mention is made of the promises God made to king David, and some things are there added similar to those found in the Book of Samuel, such as this, I have sworn to David my servant that I will prepare his seed for ever. And again, Then you spoke in vision to your sons, and said, I have laid help upon the mighty One, and have exalted the chosen One out of my people. I have found David my servant, and with my holy oil I have anointed him. For mine hand shall help him, and mine arm shall strengthen him. The enemy shall not prevail against him, and the son of iniquity shall harm him no more. And I will beat down his foes from before his face, and those that hate him will I put to flight. And my truth and my mercy shall be with him, and in my name shall his horn be exalted. I will set his hand also in the sea, and his right hand in the rivers. He shall cry unto me, You are my Father, my God, and the undertaker of my salvation. Also I will make him my first-born, high among the kings of the earth. My mercy will I keep for him for evermore, and my covenant shall be faithful (sure) with him. His seed also will I set for ever and ever, and his throne as the days of heaven. Which words, when rightly understood, are all understood to be about the Lord Jesus Christ, under the name of David, on account of the form of a servant, which the same Mediator assumed from the virgin of the seed of David. For immediately something is said about the sins of his children, such as is set down in the Book of Samuel, and is more readily taken as if of Solomon. For there, that is, in the Book of Samuel, he says, And if he commit iniquity I will chasten him with the rod of men, and with the stripes of the sons of men; but my mercy will I not take away from him, meaning by stripes the strokes of correction. Hence that saying, Touch ye not my christs. For what else is that than, Do not harm them? But in the psalm, when speaking as if of David, He says something of the same kind there too. If his children, says He, forsake my law, and walk not in my judgments; if they profane my righteousnesses, and keep not my commandments; I will visit their iniquities with the rod, and their faults with stripes: but my mercy I will not make void from him. He did not say from them, although He spoke of his children, not of himself; but he said from him, which means the same thing if rightly understood. For of Christ Himself, who is the head of the Church, there could not be found any sins which required to be divinely restrained by human correction, mercy being still continued; but they are found in His body and members, which is His people. Therefore in the Book of Samuel it is said, iniquity of Him, but in the psalm, of His children, that we may understand that what is said of His body is in some way said of Himself. Wherefore also, when Saul persecuted His body, that is, His believing people, He Himself says from heaven, Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me? Then in the following words of the psalm He says, Neither will I hurt in my truth, nor profane my covenant, and the things that proceed from my lips I will not disallow. Once have I sworn by my holiness, if I lie unto David, — that is, I will in no wise lie unto David; for Scripture is wont to speak thus. But what that is in which He will not lie, He adds, saying, His seed shall endure for ever, and his throne as the sun before me, and as the moon perfected for ever, and a faithful witness in heaven.

Wednesday, November 20, 2019

Psalm 78: Overview

Psalm 78 is used in the Common of Several Martyrs, presumably because of the aptness of its second and third verses in particular:
They have given the dead bodies of your servants to be meat for the fowls of the air: the flesh of your saints for the beasts of the earth. They have poured out their blood as water, round about Jerusalem and there was none to bury them.
The text of the psalm (arranged for liturgical use)

Psalm 78
Deus, venérunt gentes in hereditátem tuam, † polluérunt templum sanctum tuum: * posuérunt Ierúsalem in pomórum custódiam.
O God the heathens have come into your inheritance, they have defiled your holy temple: they have made Jerusalem as a place to keep fruit.
Posuérunt morticína servórum tuórum, escas volatílibus cæli: * carnes sanctórum tuórum béstiis terræ.
They have given the dead bodies of your servants to be meat for the fowls of the air: the flesh of your saints for the beasts of the earth.
Effudérunt sánguinem eórum tamquam aquam in circúitu Ierúsalem: * et non erat qui sepelíret.
They have poured out their blood as water, round about Jerusalem and there was none to bury them.
Facti sumus oppróbrium vicínis nostris: * subsannátio et illúsio his, qui in circúitu nostro sunt.
We have become a reproach to our neighbours: a scorn and derision to them that are round about us.
Usquequo, Dómine, irascéris in finem: * accendétur velut ignis zelus tuus?
How long, O Lord, will you be angry forever: shall your zeal be kindled like a fire?
Effúnde iram tuam in gentes, quæ te non novérunt: * et in regna quæ nomen tuum non invocavérunt:
Pour out your wrath upon the nations that have not known you: and upon the kingdoms that have not called upon your name.
Quia comedérunt Iacob: * et locum eius desolavérunt.
Because they have devoured Jacob; and have laid waste his place.
Ne memíneris iniquitátum nostrárum antiquárum, † cito antícipent nos misericórdiæ tuæ: * quia páuperes facti sumus nimis.
Remember not our former iniquities: let your mercies speedily prevent us, for we have become exceeding poor.
Adiuva nos, Deus, salutáris noster: † et propter glóriam nóminis tui, Dómine, líbera nos: * et propítius esto peccátis nostris, propter nomen tuum:
Help us, O God, our saviour: and for the glory of your name, O Lord, deliver us: and forgive us our sins for your name's sake:
Ne forte dicant in géntibus: Ubi est Deus eórum? * et innotéscat in natiónibus coram óculis nostris.
Lest they should say among the gentiles: Where is their God? And let him be made known among the nations before our eyes,
Ultio sánguinis servórum tuórum, qui effúsus est: * intróeat in conspéctu tuo gémitus compeditórum.
By the revenging the blood of your servants, which has been shed: Let the sighing of the prisoners come in before you.
Secúndum magnitúdinem bráchii tui, * pósside fílios mortificatórum.
According to the greatness of your arm, take possession of the children of them that have been put to death.
Et redde vicínis nostris séptuplum in sinu eórum: * impropérium ipsórum, quod exprobravérunt tibi, Dómine.
And render to our neighbours sevenfold in their bosom: the reproach wherewith they have reproached you, O Lord.
Nos autem pópulus tuus, et oves páscuæ tuæ, * confitébimur tibi in sæculum.
But we your people, and the sheep of your pasture, will give thanks to you forever.
In generatiónem et generatiónem * annuntiábimus laudem tuam
We will show forth your praise, unto generation and generation.
Glória Patri, et Fílio, * et Spirítui Sancto.
Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost.
Sicut erat in princípio, et nunc, et semper, * et in sǽcula sæculórum. Amen.
As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.

Scriptural and liturgical uses of the psalm

While this psalm could arguably refer to any of the several destructions of the Temple, St Alphonsus Liguori pointed out that Macabees cites it as referring to that time:
This psalm shows us the miserable state of the Jewish people during the persecution of Antiochus Epiphanes, in the time of the Machabees. This at least is to be inferred from the first book of the Machabees, chapter vii, verse 17, in which the author cites the second verse of our psalm as a prophecy realized in his presence.
It obviously has a wider application though.  St Augustine for example saw it as referring to the persecutions of the early Christians under assorted pagan empires, while more recent commentators such as Fr Pius Pasch applied it to the liturgical wreckovators of the twentieth century: 
This Psalm depicts one of the saddest episodes of Jewish history:  Jerusalem and the temple are destroyed, the Gentiles loot and kill, Israel is sunk in deepest shame―a punishment for the infidelity of the chosen people. The destruction of the sanctuary is at the same time a reminder of the modern-day destruction of the modernists, with their man-oriented liturgies.  In the latter half of the Psalm we plead for the destruction of the enemies of the Church, not with any malice or thoughts of vengeance, but for the manifestation of God's divine justice upon those who would desecrate his holy places. Finally, this destruction of the sanctuary can be seen as an image of Christ's death:  "Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up" (John 2:19).  We think about the temple of the soul, violated by sin, and in the Church's name we pray for the conversion of sinners.
Other Scriptural and liturgical uses of the psalm

NT references
Rev 16:6 (3); Rev 6:10 (5); Lk 6:38 (13)
RB cursus
Matins Thursday I, 6;
Monastic/(Roman) feasts etc
Common of several martyrs
Roman pre 1911
Thursday Matins
Roman post 1911
1911-62: Friday Matins . 1970:
Mass propers (EF)
Ash Wednesday TR (8-9),
Lent Ember Saturday, GR (9-10);
Lent 2 Thursday Thursday GR (9-10);
September Ember Saturday GR (9-10);
PP 4 GR (9-10)

Monday, November 11, 2019

Psalm 46: Overview

At the literal level, St Alphonsus Liguori tells us, this psalm has two obvious meanings:
In the first, it refers to the triumph of the Ark when it was carried to Mount Sion (2 Kings, vi. 15); in the second sense, it is applied, according to the opinion of several of the holy Fathers, to the glorious Ascension of Jesus Christ into heaven.
The Fathers though, went rather further in their interpretation of the spiritual meanings of the psalm.

The title of the psalm

In finem, pro filiis Core. Psalmus
Unto the end, for the sons of Core

The title of the psalm is an important starting point for  our interpretation.

Modern interpreters of the psalms tend to regard the titles attached to the psalms as unscriptural, and if they do pay any attention to them, interpret them very literally.

The Fathers by contrast, tended to devote a substantial amount of commentary to the Spiritual interpretation of the titles, and their implications for the meaning of the psalm.  St Cassiodorus for example, commented in his introduction to this one that:
All the words in this heading have been explained and are stored in our minds. But you, eager reader, must always ensure that you understand the meanings attached to the incidences of these expressions in the psalms. If you examine the text of psalms more carefully, you will realise that not one word of them can be idle. So it happens that at one place variation in headings and at another similarity both appear to denote the Lord Saviour. When they vary, it relieves the tedium; when identical, they strengthen the eyes of our understanding with unwavering stability. So both are clearly issued for the salvation of all, and are acknowledged to be beneficial. In this psalm again the sons of Core, whom mother Church signs with the emblem of the cross, are the spokesmen.
Patristic interpretations of the titles are particularly important because they often explain in part, the liturgical uses of the psalm, such as the use of this one on many feasts of the Lord at Matins.

In particular, St Augustine commented on Psalm 46 that:
The title of the Psalm goes thus. To the end: for the sons of Korah: a Psalm of David himself. These sons of Korah have the title also of some other Psalms, and indicate a sweet mystery, insinuate a great Sacrament: wherein let us willingly understand ourselves, and let us acknowledge in the title us who hear, and read, and as in a glass set before us behold who we are. The sons of Korah, who are they?. ..Haply the sons of the Bridegroom. 
For the Bridegroom was crucified in the place of Calvary. Recollect the Gospel, where they crucified the Lord, and you will find Him crucified in the place of Calvary. Furthermore, they who deride His Cross, by devils, as by beasts, are devoured. For this also a certain Scripture signified. 
When God's Prophet Elisha was going up, children called after him mocking, Go up thou bald head, Go up thou bald head: but he, not so much in cruelty as in mystery, made those children to be devoured by bears out of the wood. If those children had not been devoured, would they have lived even till now? Or could they not, being born mortal, have been taken off by a fever? But so in them had no mystery been shown, whereby posterity might be put in fear. Let none then mock the Cross of Christ.
The Jews were possessed by devils, and devoured; for in the place of Calvary, crucifying Christ, and lifting on the Cross, they said as it were with childish sense, not understanding what they said, Go up, thou bald head. For what is, Go up? Crucify Him, Crucify Him. 
For childhood is set before us to imitate humility, and childhood is set before us to beware of foolishness. To imitate humility, childhood was set before us by the Lord, when He called children to Him, and because they were kept from Him, He said, Suffer them to come unto Me, for of such is the Kingdom of Heaven. The example of childhood is set before us to beware of foolishness by the Apostle, Brethren, be not children in understanding: and again he proposes it to imitate, Howbeit in malice be ye children, that in understanding ye may be men. 
For the sons of Korah the Psalm is sung; for Christians then is it sung. Let us hear it as sons of the Bridegroom, whom senseless children crucified in the place of Calvary. For they earned to be devoured by beasts; we to be crowned by Angels. For we acknowledge the humility of our Lord, and of it are not ashamed. We are not ashamed of Him called in mystery the bald (Calvus), from the place of Calvary. For on the very Cross whereon He was insulted, He permitted not our forehead to be bald; for with His own Cross He marked it. Finally, that you may know that these things are said to us, see what is said

The text of the psalm

Psalm 46
Omnes gentes, pláudite mánibus: * iubiláte Deo in voce exsultatiónis!
O clap your hands, all you nations: shout unto God with the voice of joy,
Quóniam Dóminus excélsus, terríbilis: * Rex magnus super omnem terram.
For the Lord is high, terrible: a great king over all the earth.
Subiécit pópulos nobis: * et gentes sub pédibus nostris.
He has subdued the people under us; and the nations under our feet.
Elégit nobis hereditátem suam : * spéciem Iacob, quam diléxit.
He has chosen for us his inheritance, the beauty of Jacob which he has love.
Ascéndit Deus in iúbilo: * et Dóminus in voce tubæ.
God is ascended with jubilee, and the Lord with the sound of trumpet.
Psállite Deo nostro, psállite: * psállite Regi nostro, psállite!
Sing praises to our God; sing. Sing praises to our king; sing.
Quóniam Rex omnis terræ Deus: * psállite sapiénter!
For God is the king of all the earth: sing wisely.
Regnábit Deus super gentes: * Deus sedet super sedem sanctam suam.
God shall reign over the nations: God sits on his holy throne.
Príncipes populórum congregáti sunt cum Deo Abraham: * quóniam dii fortes terræ veheménter eleváti sunt.
The princes of the people are gathered together, with the God of Abraham: for the strong gods of the earth are exceedingly exalted.
Glória Patri, et Fílio, * et Spirítui Sancto.
Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost.
Sicut erat in princípio, et nunc, et semper, * et in sǽcula sæculórum. Amen.
As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.

 Scriptural and liturgical uses of the psalm

In the Benedictine Office this psalm is part of a set of the 'psalms of Sion' said at Tuesday Matins.
The use of the psalm in the Common of Apostles is presumably due to the reference to the princes of the people in the last verse.

NT references
1 Pet 4(4)
RB cursus
Tuesday Matins
Monastic/(Roman) feasts etc
Epiphany, Ascension, Pentecost, Trinity, Sacred Heart, Transfiguration, Christ the King; Common of Apostles
Roman pre 1911
Tuesday Matins
Roman post 1911
1911-62: Monday Lauds  . 1970:
Mass propers (EF)
Palm Sunday Blessing of Psalms;
Ascension, AL (5), OF (5);
Sunday after Ascension, AL (8), OF (5); PP 7, IN (1-2), AL (1)

The psalm was the subject of a General Audience by Pope St John Paul II in 2001:

1. "The Lord, the most high, is a great King over all the earth!". This initial acclamation is repeated in different tones in Psalm 46 (47), which we just prayed. It is designed as a hymn to the sovereign Lord of the universe and of history:  "God is king over all the earth ... God rules over all nations" (vv. 8-9).
Like other similar compositions in the Psalter (cf. Ps 92; 95-98), this hymn to the Lord, the king of the world and of mankind presumes an atmosphere of liturgical celebration. For that reason, we are at the heart of the spiritual praise of Israel, which rises to heaven from the Temple, the place where the infinite and eternal God reveals himself and meets his people.

2. We will follow this canticle of joyful praise in its fundamental moments like two waves of the sea coming toward the shore. They differ in the way they consider the relationship between Israel and the nations. In the first part of the psalm, the relationship is one of domination:  God "has subdued the peoples under us, he has put the nations under our feet" (v. 4); in the second part, instead, the relationship is one of association:  "the princes of the peoples are gathered with the people of the God of Abraham" (v. 10). One can notice great progress.

In the first part (cf. vv. 2-6) it says, "All you peoples clap your hands, shout to God with joyful cries!" (v. 2). The centre of this festive applause is the grandiose figure of the supreme Lord, to whom the psalm attributes three glorious titles:  "most high, great and terrible" (v. 3). They exalt the divine transcendence, the absolute primacy of being, omnipotence. The Risen Christ will also exclaim:  "All power in heaven and on earth has been given to me" (Mt 28,18).

3. In the universal lordship of God over all the peoples of the earth (cf. v. 4) the psalmist stresses his particular presence in Israel, the people of divine election, "the favourite", the most precious and dear inheritance (cf. v. 5). Israel is the object of a particular love of God which is manifested with the victory over hostile nations. During the battle, the presence of the Ark of the Covenant with the troops of Israel assured them of God's help; after the victory, the Ark was returned to Mount Zion (cf. Ps 67 [68],19) and all proclaimed, "God mounts his throne amid shouts of joy, the Lord amid trumpet blasts" (Ps 46 [47],6).

4. The second part of the Psalm (cf. vv. 7-10) opens with another wave of praise and festive chant:  "Sing praise to God, sing praise; sing praise to our king, sing praises ... sing hymns of praise!" (vv. 7-8). Even now one sings to the Lord seated on his throne in the fullness of his sovereignty (cf. v. 9). The royal seat is defined as "holy", because it is unapproachable by the finite and sinful human being. But the Ark of the Covenant present in the most sacred part of the Temple of Zion is also a heavenly throne. In this way the distant and transcendent God, holy and infinite, draws near to his creatures, adapting himself to space and time (cf. I Kgs 8,27.30).

5. The psalm finishes on a surprising note of universalist openness:  "the princes of the peoples are gathered with the people of the God of Abraham" (v. 10). One goes back to Abraham the patriarch who is at the root, not only of Israel but also of other nations. To the chosen people who are his descendents, is entrusted the mission of making converge towards the Lord all nations and all cultures, because he is the God of all mankind. From East to West they will gather on Zion to meet the king of peace and love, of unity and brotherhood (cf. Mt 8,11). As the prophet Isaiah hoped, the peoples who are hostile to one another, will receive the invitation to lay down their arms and to live together under the divine sovereignty, under a government of justice and peace (Is 2,2-5). The eyes of all are fixed on the new Jerusalem where the Lord "ascends" to be revealed in the glory of his divinity. It will be "an immense multitude, which no one can count, from every nation, race, people and tongue ... they (all) cried out with a loud voice:  Salvation belongs to our God who is seated on his throne and to the Lamb" (Apoc 7,9.10).

6. The Letter to the Ephesians sees the realization of this prophecy in the mystery of Christ the Redeemer when it affirms, addressing Christians who did not come from Judaism:  "Remember, that one time you pagans by birth,... were without Christ, excluded from the citizenship of Israel, extraneous to the covenant of the promise, without hope and without God in this world. Now instead, in Christ Jesus, you who were once far off have been brought near thanks to the blood of Christ. In fact, he is our peace, he who made of the two one people, destroying the dividing wall of enmity" (Eph 2,1-14).

In Christ then, the kingship of God, sung by our psalm, is realized on earth in the meeting of all people. This is the way an anonymous 8th century homily commented on this mystery:  "Until the coming of the Messiah, hope of the nations, the Gentiles did not adore God and did not know who he is. Until the Messiah redeemed them, God did not reign over the nations through their obedience and their worship. Now instead, with his Word and his Spirit, God reigns over them because he saved them from deception and made them his friends" (Anonymous Palestinian, Arab-Christian Homily of the Eighth Century, Rome 1994, p. 100).

Sunday, November 10, 2019

Psalm 44: Overview

Psalm 44 is generally interpreted by the Fathers as proclaiming the Incarnation, the queenship of Mary, and speaking of the wedding of Christ and the Church.

The text of the psalm

In finem, pro iis qui commutabuntur. Filiis Core, ad intellectum. Canticum pro dilecto.
Unto the end, for them that shall be changed, for the sons of Core, for understanding. A canticle for the Beloved.
Psalm 44
Eructávit cor meum verbum bonum: * dico ego ópera mea Regi.
My heart has uttered a good word: I speak my works to the king:
Lingua mea cálamus scribæ: * velóciter scribéntis.
My tongue is the pen of a scrivener that writes swiftly.
Speciósus forma præ fíliis hóminum, † diffúsa est grátia in lábiis tuis: * proptérea benedíxit te Deus in ætérnum.
You are beautiful above the sons of men: grace is poured abroad in your lips; therefore has God blessed you forever.
Accíngere gládio tuo super femur tuum, * potentíssime.
Gird your sword upon your thigh, O you most mighty.
Spécie tua et pulchritúdine tua: * inténde, próspere procéde, et regna.
With your comeliness and your beauty set out, proceed prosperously, and reign.
Propter veritátem, et mansuetúdinem, et iustítiam: * et dedúcet te mirabíliter déxtera tua.
Because of truth and meekness and justice: and your right hand shall conduct you wonderfully.
Sagíttæ tuæ acútæ, pópuli sub te cadent: * in corda inimicórum Regis.
Your arrows are sharp: under you shall people fall, into the hearts of the king's enemies.
Sedes tua, Deus, in sæculum sæculi: * virga directiónis virga regni tui.
Your throne, O God, is forever and ever: the sceptre of your kingdom is a sceptre of uprightness
Dilexísti iustítiam, et odísti iniquitátem: * proptérea unxit te, Deus, Deus tuus, óleo lætítiæ præ consórtibus tuis.
You have loved justice, and hated iniquity: therefore God, your God, has anointed you with the oil of gladness above your fellows.
Myrrha, et gutta, et cásia a vestiméntis tuis, a dómibus ebúrneis: * ex quibus delectavérunt te fíliæ regum in honóre tuo.
Myrrh and stacte and cassia perfume your garments, from the ivory houses: out of which the daughters of kings have delighted you in your glory.
Astitit regína a dextris tuis in vestítu deauráto: * circúmdata varietáte
The queen stood on your right hand, in gilded clothing; surrounded with variety.
Audi, fília, et vide, et inclína aurem tuam: * et oblivíscere pópulum tuum, et domum patris tui.
Hearken, O daughter, and see, and incline your ear: and forget your people and your father's house.
Et concupíscet Rex decórem tuum: * quóniam ipse est Dóminus Deus tuus, et adorábunt eum.
And the king shall greatly desire your beauty; for he is the Lord your God, and him they shall adore.
Et fíliæ Tyri in munéribus * vultum tuum deprecabúntur: omnes dívites plebis.
And the daughters of Tyre with gifts, yea, all the rich among the people, shall entreat your countenance.
Omnis glória eius fíliæ Regis ab intus, * in fímbriis áureis circumamícta varietátibus.
All the glory of the king's daughter is within in golden borders, clothed round about with varieties.
Adducéntur Regi vírgines post eam: * próximæ eius afferéntur tibi.
After her shall virgins be brought to the king: her neighbours shall be brought to you.
Afferéntur in lætítia et exsultatióne: * adducéntur in templum Regis.
They shall be brought with gladness and rejoicing: they shall be brought into the temple of the king.
Pro pátribus tuis nati sunt tibi fílii: * constítues eos príncipes super omnem terram.
Instead of your fathers, sons are born to you: you shall make them princes over all the earth.
Mémores erunt nóminis tui: * in omni generatióne et generatiónem.
They shall remember your name throughout all generations.
Proptérea pópuli confitebúntur tibi in ætérnum: * et in sæculum sæculi.
Therefore shall people praise you forever; yea, for ever and ever.
Glória Patri, et Fílio, * et Spirítui Sancto.
Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost.
Sicut erat in princípio, et nunc, et semper, * et in sǽcula sæculórum. Amen.
As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.

Liturgical and Scriptural uses

NT references
Heb 4:12; Rev 1:16 (4); Heb 1:8-9 ( 8-9); Mt 2:11 (14); Rev 19:7 (16);
RB cursus
Monday Matins
Monastic/(Roman) feasts etc
Nativity, Transfiguration, Christ the King, Common of BVM, Common of Virgins, Common of Apostles
Roman pre 1911
Tuesday Matins
Roman post 1911
1911-62:Wednesday Matins  . 1970:
Mass propers (EF)

Commentaries of the Fathers

St Athanasius drew out the prophetic nature of Psalm 44 in proclaiming the Incarnation:
...far from being ignorant of the coming of Messiah, he makes mention of it first and foremost in Psalm 44, Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever, a scepter of justice is the sceptre of Thy kingdom. Thou has loved righteousness and hated lawlessness: wherefore God, even thy God, hath anointed thee with the oil of gladness above thy fellows.... 
Neither is the Psalmist silent about the fact that He should be born of a virgin - no, he underlines it straight away in 44, which we were quoting, but a moment since. Harken, O daughter, he says, and see and incline thine ear, and forget thine own people and thy fathers's house. For the King has desired thy beauty, and He is thy Lord. Is not this like what Gabriel said, Hail, thou that art full of grace, the Lord is with thee? [Lk 1:28] For the Psalmist, having called Him the Anointed One, that is Messiah or Christ, forthwith declares His human birth by saying, Harken, O daughter, and see; the only difference being that Gabriel addresses Mary by an epithet, because he is of another race from her, while David fitly calls her his own daughter, because it was from him that she should spring.

St Augustine, in the City of God (17: Chapter 16) provided an extended exposition of the psalm as speaking of Christ and his Church, and its particular application to Our Lady:
For whatever direct and manifest prophetic utterances there may be about anything, it is necessary that those which are tropical should be mingled with them; which, chiefly on account of those of slower understanding, thrust upon the more learned the laborious task of clearing up and expounding them. Some of them, indeed, on the very first blush, as soon as they are spoken, exhibit Christ and the Church, although some things in them that are less intelligible remain to be expounded at leisure. We have an example of this in that same Book of Psalms: My heart bubbled up a good matter: I utter my words to the king. My tongue is the pen of a scribe, writing swiftly. Your form is beautiful beyond the sons of men; grace is poured out in Your lips: therefore God has blessed You for evermore. Gird Your sword about Your thigh, O Most Mighty. With Your goodliness and Your beauty go forward, proceed prosperously, and reign, because of Your truth, and meekness, and righteousness; and Your right hand shall lead You forth wonderfully. Your sharp arrows are most powerful: in the heart of the king's enemies. The people shall fall under You. Your throne, O God, is for ever and ever: a rod of direction is the rod of Your kingdom. You have loved righteousness, and have hated iniquity: therefore God, Your God, has anointed You with the oil of exultation above Your fellows. Myrrh and drops, and cassia from Your vestments, from the houses of ivory: out of which the daughters of kings have delighted You in Your honor. 
Who is there, no matter how slow, but must here recognize Christ whom we preach, and in whom we believe, if he hears that He is God, whose throne is for ever and ever, and that He is anointed by God, as God indeed anoints, not with a visible, but with a spiritual and intelligible chrism? For who is so untaught in this religion, or so deaf to its far and wide spread fame, as not to know that Christ is named from this chrism, that is, from this anointing? But when it is acknowledged that this King is Christ, let each one who is already subject to Him who reigns because of truth, meekness, and righteousness, inquire at his leisure into these other things that are here said tropically: how His form is beautiful beyond the sons of men, with a certain beauty that is the more to be loved and admired the less it is corporeal; and what His sword, arrows, and other things of that kind may be, which are set down, not properly, but tropically.
Then let him look upon His Church, joined to her so great Husband in spiritual marriage and divine love, of which it is said in these words which follow, The queen stood upon Your right hand in gold-embroidered vestments, girded about with variety. Hearken, O daughter, and look, and incline your ear; forget also your people, and your father's house. Because the King has greatly desired your beauty; for He is the Lord your God. And the daughters of Tyre shall worship Him with gifts; the rich among the people shall entreat Your face. The daughter of the King has all her glory within, in golden fringes, girded about with variety. The virgins shall be brought after her to the King: her neighbors shall be brought to You. They shall be brought with gladness and exultation: they shall be led into the temple of the King. Instead of your fathers, sons shall be born to you: you shall establish them as princes over all the earth. They shall be mindful of your name in every generation and descent. Therefore shall the people acknowledge you for evermore, even for ever and ever. I do not think any one is so stupid as to believe that some poor woman is here praised and described, as the spouse, to wit, of Him to whom it is said, Your throne, O God, is for ever and ever: a rod of direction is the rod of Your kingdom. You have loved righteousness and hated iniquity: therefore God, Your God, has anointed You with the oil of exultation above Your fellows; that is, plainly, Christ above Christians. For these are His fellows, out of the unity and concord of whom in all nations that queen is formed, as it is said of her in another psalm, The city of the great King. The same is Sion spiritually, which name in Latin is interpreted speculatio (discovery); for she descries the great good of the world to come, because her attention is directed there. In the same way she is also Jerusalem spiritually, of which we have already said many things. Her enemy is the city of the devil, Babylon, which is interpreted confusion. Yet out of this Babylon this queen is in all nations set free by regeneration, and passes from the worst to the best King,— that is, from the devil to Christ. Wherefore it is said to her, Forget your people and your father's house. Of this impious city those also are a portion who are Israelites only in the flesh and not by faith, enemies also of this great King Himself, and of His queen. For Christ, having come to them, and been slain by them, has the more become the King of others, whom He did not see in the flesh. Whence our King Himself says through the prophecy of a certain psalm, You will deliver me from the contradictions of the people; You will make me head of the nations. A people whom I have not known has served me: in the hearing of the ear it has obeyed me. Therefore this people of the nations, which Christ did not know in His bodily presence, yet has believed in that Christ as announced to it; so that it might be said of it with good reason, In the hearing of the ear it has obeyed me, for faith is by hearing. Romans 10:5 This people, I say, added to those who are the true Israelites both by the flesh and by faith, is the city of God, which has brought forth Christ Himself according to the flesh, since He was in these Israelites only. For thence came the Virgin Mary, in whom Christ assumed flesh that He might be man. Of which city another psalm says, Mother Sion, shall a man say, and the man is made in her, and the Highest Himself has founded her. Who is this Highest, save God? And thus Christ, who is God, before He became man through Mary in that city, Himself founded it by the patriarchs and prophets. As therefore was said by prophecy so long before to this queen, the city of God, what we already can see fulfilled, Instead of your fathers, sons are born to you; you shall make them princes over all the earth; so out of her sons truly are set up even her fathers [princes] through all the earth, when the people, coming together to her, confess to her with the confession of eternal praise for ever and ever. Beyond doubt, whatever interpretation is put on what is here expressed somewhat darkly in figurative language, ought to be in agreement with these most manifest things.