Sunday, August 19, 2012

Rejoicing in the Resurrection: Psalm 62

In the Benedictine Office Psalm 62 is given a festal connotation, used at Lauds on Sundays (and major feasts).

In the Old Roman Office by contrast it was used every day at Lauds, presumably because it seems so suitable for the hour of the day when we celebrate the Resurrection, with its opening line on watching for God at the break of day.

Waiting for the Resurrection

Why does St Benedict drop the repetition?

Perhaps St Benedict wanted to emphasize the special character of Sundays as the day of the Resurrection, the day we wait especially at dawn, longing for the rising of the Son/sun after our mini-Easter Vigil each week?

I suggested that St Benedict's Office makes each Saturday a remembrance of Holy Saturday, a day when the tomb is empty and mass is not celebrated: a 'desert day' that helps sharpens our longing for Christ, the living water that our soul and flesh longs for (v.2).

Patrick Reardon, in Christ in the Psalms suggests that the psalm as a whole can be seen as a longing for communion (p124), and the psalm as a whole a preparation for its reception, particularly with its phrases such as 'Let my soul be filled as with marrow and fatness' (verse 6).

A prayer of the Church?

The psalm can also be seen though, as a prayer of the Church as a whole, as she assembles to worship on this special day of worship. Certainly St Benedict's contemporary Cassiodorus saw it as the prayer of the Church Militant, that dwells in the desert of this world, under the protection of God, and waiting for his mercy:

“So the words of the Church, who is to be the spokeswoman, are rightly set forth as referring to the Lord Saviour. So she dwells in The Desert of Edom, that is, in the aridity of this world, where she thirsts and feels longing, where she seeks the Lord's mercy eagerly until she can deserve to attain that eternal glory… the Church at daybreak keeps vigil before the Lord, praying that she may not be enmeshed in the errors of this world. That spiritual bride, who embodies the limbs of the Lord Saviour, says in the first part that she is taken up with insatiable longing to be able to behold the Lord's power.”

Above all though, this is surely a song of the triumph of Christ:

But they have fought my soul in vain, they shall go into the lower parts of the earth.. But the king shall rejoice in God, all they shall be praised that swear by him."(vv11-12)

Psalm 62

A psalm of David while he was in the desert of Edom.
O God my God, to you do I watch at break of day.
For you my soul has thirsted; for you my flesh, O how many ways!
3 In a desert land, and where there is no way, and no water: so in the sanctuary have I come before you, to see your power and your glory.
4 For your mercy is better than lives: you my lips will praise.
5 Thus will I bless you all my life long: and in your name I will lift up my hands.
6 Let my soul be filled as with marrow and fatness: and my mouth shall praise you with joyful lips.
7 If I have remembered you upon my bed, I will meditate on you in the morning:
8 Because you have been my helper. And I will rejoice under the covert of your wings:
9 My soul has stuck close to you: your right hand has received me.
10 But they have fought my soul in vain, they shall go into the lower parts of the earth:
11 They shall be delivered into the hands of the sword, they shall be the portions of foxes.
12 But the king shall rejoice in God, all they shall be praised that swear by him: because the mouth is stopped of them that speak wicked things.

1 Psalmus David, cum esset in deserto Idumææ.
2 Deus, Deus meus, ad te de luce vigilo. Sitivit in te anima mea; quam multipliciter tibi caro mea!
3 In terra deserta, et invia, et inaquosa, sic in sancto apparui tibi, ut viderem virtutem tuam et gloriam tuam.
4 Quoniam melior est misericordia tua super vitas, labia mea laudabunt te.
5 Sic benedicam te in vita mea, et in nomine tuo levabo manus meas.
6 Sicut adipe et pinguedine repleatur anima mea, et labiis exsultationis laudabit os meum.
7 Si memor fui tui super stratum meum, in matutinis meditabor in te.
8 Quia fuisti adjutor meus, et in velamento alarum tuarum exsultabo.
9 Adhæsit anima mea post te; me suscepit dextera tua.
10 Ipsi vero in vanum quæsierunt animam meam : introibunt in inferiora terræ;
11 tradentur in manus gladii : partes vulpium erunt.
12 Rex vero lætabitur in Deo; laudabuntur omnes qui jurant in eo: quia obstructum est os loquentium iniqua.

1 comment:

  1. To say I love this psalm is an understatement. I think it is my favourite in most moments. I read it to my mother in her last days. I often say it by heart according to the Grail version which most resonates with me.