Verses 5&8 of Psalm 115 are worth considering together since they echo each other:
Vota mea Dómino reddam coram omni pópulo ejus: * pretiósa in conspéctu Dómini mors sanctórum ejus:
I will pay my vows to the Lord before all his people: Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his saints...
Vota mea Dómino reddam in conspéctu omnis pópuli ejus: * in átriis domus Dómini, in médio tui, Jerúsalem.
I will pay my vows to the Lord in the sight of all his people: In the courts of the house of the Lord, in the midst of you, O Jerusalem.
5a: Vota (Vows) mea (my) Dómino (to the Lord) reddam (I will render) coram (in the hearing/presence) omni (of all) pópulo (the people) ejus (his)
8a: Vota (Vows) mea (my) Dómino (to the Lord) reddam (I will pay/render) in conspéctu (in the presence) omnis (of all) pópuli (the people) ejus (his)
votum, i, n. a vow
reddo, didi, ditum, ere. to restore, return, give back; to requite, repay, reward, render;
coram prep, with abl., in the presence of, before the face of, before.
5b: pretiósa (precious) in conspéctu (in the sight) Dómini (of the Lord) mors (the death) sanctórum (of the saints) ejus (his)
pretiosus, a, um precious, of great value. of great concern or importance.
conspectus, us, m. sight, presence
mors, mortis, f, death
8b: in átriis (in the courtyard) domus (of the house) Dómini (of the Lord) in médio (in the midst) tui (of you), Jerúsalem
atrium, ii, n., a court, often pi., courts; esp. the open courts surrounding the Tabernacle and
What are the vows or promises referred to here? The second phrase of verse 5 points to the self-offering to the point of martyrdom so precious to God. Monastic profession is above all a form of martyrdom in this sense, for the monk or nun surrenders, as St Benedict points out, even control of their own body. But we can think of this as a reference also to all of the promises and commitments we have made to God: our baptismal promises, marriage and more.
The second phrase of each of these two verses though, make it clear that we are talking about public commitments, made in and through the Church. Bellarmine comments on Verse 8:
This is a repetition of verse 5, with the addition of, "In the courts of the house of the Lord;" to give us to understand that the servant of God should offer his vows, his confession, and himself to God, in the Church, indicated by Jerusalem; for they who work outside the Church derive nothing from it.
These two verses are a call to public witness. Verse 5 points to the testimony of the martyrs, whose blood is the seed of the Church:
Being prepared to drink the chalice of suffering, he says with great confidence, I will offer the sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving to the Lord, not alone in nooks and chambers, but openly and publicly before all the people, enemies included, and even though I may be satisfied of my death being the consequence; for "Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his saints;" that is, God sets great value on the death of the saints, when suffered for his honor and glory; just as valuable gems, such as those worn in the crowns of monarchs, and which are of great value, are highly prized by mankind. See, says St. Basil, what glory is in store for the martyrs, whose souls are not only crowned in heaven, but even whose relics are highly valued on earth. Formerly, anyone touching a dead body was looked upon as unclean, but at present, anyone touching the bones of the martyrs is supposed to acquire fresh sanctification. (Bellarmine)
In this, we imitate the witness that Christ was about to embark on in his preaching and miracles, for as Cassiodorus explains:
Notice his information here about the house of the Lord which he mentioned in the previous short verse: it is in the sight of all his people, for it is right that He who deigned to suffer for the salvation of all should receive public praise. The Lord is most perfectly aware of it even if it is performed in the recess of the heart. This contributes to the edification of the people, if a good confession is absorbed by the ears of the community at large. As Christ says in the gospel: He who confesses before men, I will also confess him before my Father who is in heaven. He added: In the midst of thee, Jerusalem, where the Lord's peace resides, and where the unity of the holy people rejoices in contemplation of the Lord.
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.
You can find the next set of notes on this psalm here.