Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Psalm 134 verses 1-2

The opening verses of Psalm 134 echo those of the previous psalm as they are arranged in Scripture, Psalm 133, which is said daily at Compline (the last of the Gradual psalms).

But whereas Psalm 133 is a call to night prayer, Psalm 134 is a call to continuous prayer.

As these opening verses make clear, it has a deeply liturgical dimension, that stresses the importance of Church buildings as the earthly representation of heaven, our desired destiny.

Laudáte nomen Dómini, * laudáte, servi Dóminum.

ανετε τ νομα κυρίου ανετε δολοι κύριον

Laudate (praise) nomen (the name) Domini (of the Lord) laudate (praise), servi (servants), Dominum (the Lord)

Praise the name of the Lord: O you his servants, praise the Lord:
Praise ye the name of the Lord; praise the Lord, ye his servants
O praise the Lord, laud ye the Name of the Lord; praise it, O ye servants of the Lord

The psalm opens with a call to offer the sacrifice of praise.  The previous psalm opens with a very similar line, but restricts its call to night prayer.  This one, on the other hand, can be interpreted as a call to continuous prayer, appropriate for those who have completed their pilgrimage, and reached the heavenly home, or at least who participate in that heavenly liturgy as best we can here on earth. 

Why mention God's servants particularly?  The Fathers note that not everyone can claim to worship God in truth, but rather those who are as St Augustine puts it, the 'obeyers of his command', or, as Cassiodorus elaborates, "you who are committed to Him with steadfast will and believe that you have a Lord whom you do not despise through any superstition." 

Qui statis in domo Dómini, * in átriis domus Dei nostri.

ο σττες ν οκ κυρίου ν αλας οκου θεο μν

qui (who) statis (you stand) in domo (in the house) Domini (of the Lord), in atriis (in the courts) domus (of the house) Dei (of God) nostri (our).

cf Psalm 133

atrium, ii, n., a court, often pi., courts; esp. the open courts surrounding the Tabernacle and Temple

You that stand in the house of the Lord, in the courts of the house of our God.
who stand in the house of the Lord, in the courts of the house of our God
ye that stand in the house of the Lord, in the courts of the house of our God.

The setting is clearly the Temple, or for us, the Church.  As Pope Benedict XVI puts it:

"Therefore, we find ourselves in the living atmosphere of worship that unfolds in the temple, the preferred and communal place of prayer."

Indeed, St Chrysostom points out that the Old Testament contains numerous injunctions against worshipping anywhere other than the Temple, for the regulation of worship in the temple or church is intended to offer protection against erroneous ideas, impiety and idolatry.  To be able to stand in the house of God, St Augustine comments, is not a small thing, but rather a great favour God has granted us, something meant to symbolise, as St Bellarmine explains that though we ourselves have not yet arrived at our final home, we count ourselves nonetheless, as being amongst "those who, in hope and desire, have begun to dwell in that house above; such as those who, with the apostle, can say, 'But our conversation is in heaven.'"

Psalm 134 (135) – Laudate nomen Domini
1 Laudáte nomen Dómini, * laudáte, servi Dóminum.
Praise the name of the Lord: O you his servants, praise the Lord:
2  Qui statis in domo Dómini, * in átriis domus Dei nostri.
2 You that stand in the house of the Lord, in the courts of the house of our God.
3  Laudáte Dóminum, quia bonus Dóminus: * psállite nómini ejus, quóniam suáve.
3 Praise the Lord, for the Lord is good: sing to his name, for it is sweet.
4  Quóniam Jacob elégit sibi Dóminus, * Israël in possessiónem sibi.
4 For the Lord has chosen Jacob unto himself: Israel for his own possession.
5  Quia ego cognóvi quod magnus est Dóminus, * et Deus noster præ ómnibus diis.
5 For I have known that the Lord is great, and our God is above all gods.
6  Omnia quæcúmque vóluit, Dóminus fecit in cælo, et in terra, * in mari, et in ómnibus abyssis.
6 Whatsoever the Lord pleased he has done, in heaven, in earth, in the sea, and in all the deeps.
7  Edúcens nubes ab extrémo terræ: * fúlgura in plúviam fecit.
7 He brings up clouds from the end of the earth: he has made lightnings for the rain. He brings forth winds out of his stores:
8  Qui prodúcit ventos de thesáuris suis: * qui percússit primogénita Ægypti ab hómine usque ad pecus.
8 He slew the firstborn of Egypt from man even unto beast.
9  Et misit signa, et prodígia in médio tui, Ægypte: * in Pharaónem, et in omnes servos ejus.
9 He sent forth signs and wonders in the midst of you, O Egypt: upon Pharao, and upon all his servants.
10  Qui percússit gentes multas: * et occídit reges fortes:
10 He smote many nations, and slew mighty kings:
11  Sehon, regem Amorrhæórum, et Og, regem Basan, * et ómnia regna Chánaan.
11 Sehon king of the Amorrhites, and Og king of Basan, and all the kingdoms of Chanaan.
12  Et dedit terram eórum hereditátem, * hereditátem Israël, pópulo suo.
12 And gave their land for an inheritance, for an inheritance to his people Israel.
13  Dómine, nomen tuum in ætérnum: * Dómine, memoriále tuum in generatiónem et generatiónem.
13 Your name, O Lord, is for ever: your memorial, O Lord, unto all generations.
14  Quia judicábit Dóminus pópulum suum: * et in servis suis deprecábitur
14 For the Lord will judge his people, and will be entreated in favour of his servants.
15  Simulácra Géntium argéntum et aurum: * ópera mánuum hóminum.
15 The idols of the Gentiles are silver and gold, the works of men's hands.
16  Os habent, et non loquéntur: * óculos habent, et non vidébunt.
16 They have a mouth, but they speak not: they have eyes, but they see not.
17  Aures habent, et non áudient: * neque enim est spíritus in ore ipsórum.
17 They have ears, but they hear not: neither is there any breath in their mouths.
18  Símiles illis fiant qui fáciunt ea: * et omnes qui confídunt in eis.
18 Let them that make them be like to them: and every one that trusts in them.
19  Domus Israël,  benedícite Dómino: * domus Aaron, benedícite Dómino.
19 Bless the Lord, O house of Israel: bless the Lord, O house of Aaron.
20  Domus Levi, benedícite Dómino: * qui timétis Dóminum, benedícite Dómino.
20 Bless the Lord, O house of Levi: you that fear the Lord, bless the Lord.
21  Benedíctus Dóminus ex Sion, * qui hábitat in Jerúsalem.
21 Blessed be the Lord out of Sion, who dwells in Jerusalem.

And you can find the next post in this series here.

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