Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Psalm 115: Verse 7 - Let us break our bonds asunder!

The first phrase of the second last verse of Psalm 115 takes us back to the sentiments of Psalm 2 (made famous by Handel's setting of it in the Messiah), said at Prime ('Let us break our bonds asunder'):

Dirupísti víncula mea: * tibi sacrificábo hóstiam laudis, et nomen Dómini invocábo.
You have broken my bonds:  I will sacrifice to you the sacrifice of praise, and I will call upon the name of the Lord.


Dirupísti (you have broken) víncula (the bonds/chains) mea (my)

dirumpo, riupi, ruptum, ere 3,  to rend, burst, break or dash to pieces; to cleave
vinculum, i, n. a bond, fetter, chain.

tibi (to you) sacrificábo (I will sacrifice) hóstiam (the gift/offering/victim) laudis (of praise)

sacrifico, avi, atum, are to offer something to God in atonement for sin, to procure favors, to sacrifice.
hostia, ae, f., a victim, sacrifice, offering, gift.
laus, laudis, f., praise.

et (and) nomen (the name) Dómini (of the Lord) invocábo (I will call upon)


Christ came to break for us for the bonds of sin, as St John Chrysostom comments:

And Isaiah spoke of Christ: "I have given you as a covenant of the nations, saying to those in bonds, Come out." Consequently, he broke these bonds, not just released them: the former is more decisive than the latter. If, however, you wanted to take this also in a spiritual sense, saying they are the bonds of sins, you would not miss the proper meaning; it has all to do with his old self. 

What is the sacrifice of praise offered?  For monk or nun, perhaps, above all their special calling to offer the Opus Dei, the Divine Office.


Pope Benedict XVI, at his visit to the monastery of Heiligenkreuz in 2007 commented:

" a monastery of Benedictine spirit, the praise of God, which the monks sing as a solemn choral prayer, always has priority. Monks are certainly – thank God! – not the only people who pray; others also pray: children, the young and the old, men and women, the married and the single – all Christians pray, or at least, they should!

In the life of monks, however, prayer takes on a particular importance: it is the heart of their calling. Their vocation is to be men of prayer. In the patristic period the monastic life was likened to the life of the angels. It was considered the essential mark of the angels that they are worshippers. Their very life is worship. This should hold true also for monks... 

At the same time, the officium of consecrated persons is also a sacred service to men and women, a testimony offered to them. All people have deep within their hearts, whether they know it or not, a yearning for definitive fulfilment, for supreme happiness, and thus, ultimately, for God. A monastery, in which the community gathers several times a day for the praise of God, testifies to the fact that this primordial human longing does not go unfulfilled: God the Creator has not placed us in a fearful darkness where, groping our way in despair, we seek some ultimate meaning (cf. Acts 17:27); God has not abandoned us in a desert void, bereft of meaning, where in the end only death awaits us. No! God has shone forth in our darkness with his light, with his Son Jesus Christ. In him, God has entered our world in all his “fullness” (cf. Col 1:19); in him all truth, the truth for which we yearn, has its source and summit."

The text

1 Crédidi, propter quod locútus sum: * ego autem humiliátus sum nimis.
2  Ego dixi in excéssu meo: * Omnis homo mendax.
3  Quid retríbuam Dómino, * pro ómnibus, quæ retríbuit mihi?
4  Cálicem salutáris accípiam: * et nomen Dómini invocábo.
5  Vota mea Dómino reddam coram omni pópulo ejus: * pretiósa in conspéctu Dómini mors sanctórum ejus:
6  O Dómine, quia ego servus tuus: * ego servus tuus, et fílius ancíllæ tuæ.
7  Dirupísti víncula mea: * tibi sacrificábo hóstiam laudis, et nomen Dómini invocábo.
8  Vota mea Dómino reddam in conspéctu omnis pópuli ejus: * in átriis domus Dómini, in médio tui, Jerúsalem.

And next...

As we have already looked at the final verse of this psalm, this is the final part of this series on Psalm 115.  In the Office, however, this psalm is said under the same Gloria as Psalm 116, and indeed Pope Benedict's commentary on prayer in the life of the monk is extremely pertinent to it, as we shall see in the next post in this series on Monday Vespers.

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