Saturday, June 28, 2014

Psalm 150 verses 1-2

The opening verses of Psalm 150 link together God and his people: he has worked on their behalf, and in them.

Laudáte Dóminum in sanctis ejus: * laudáte eum in firmaménto virtútis ejus
Laudate Dominum in sanctuario eius, laudate eum in firmamento virtutis eius.
Laudate Dominum in sancto eius : laudate eum in fortitudine potentiae eius.

ανετε τν θεν ν τος γίοις ατο ανετε ατν ν στερεώματι δυνάμεως ατο

In Latin sanctis ejus could mean either holy place or holy persons, but the Septuagint really suggests 'the saints'.  The Hebrew Masoretic Text and the psalms tendency to use parallelism (repetition of the same sentiment in two words across the two phrases of a verse), on the other hand, favours the places interpretation, and that is reflected in most of the modern translations.  Most of the Fathers, however, including both St John Chrysostom and St Augustine, take the first phrase as a reference to either the people of the Church, or to Christ (his sanctified one). 

laudo, avi, atum, are  to praise, glorify
sanctus, a, um, adj., holy; a holy place or pious person.
firmamentum, i, n. a support, prop, stay; the firmament, the heavens, the vault or arch of the sky
virtus, iitis, strength, power, might, an army, host; the angel;  the heavenly bodies, the sun, moon, and stars.

Praise ye the Lord in his holy places: praise ye him in the firmament of his power.
Praise God in his holy places: praise him in the firmament of his power.
Praise the Lord in his holy place, praise him in the fortress of his power
O praise God in his holiness; praise him in the firmament of his power.

Chrysostom's interpretation points to the Septuagint version of the verse:

"Praise the Lord in his saints: Another version, "in his saint;" another, "in his sanctified one." Here there is a reference either to the people, or to a holy life and holy men. Now, observe how in turn he brought the book to a close with thanks­giving, teaching us how this ought be both beginning and end of our actions and words. Hence Paul also says, "Whatever you do in word and deed, always give thanks to the God and Father through him." This is the way the opening phrase of our prayer also be­gins: the phrase "Our Father" is said on the part of those giving thanks for favors done and showing them all to be due to this name. In saying "Father," after all, you confessed sonship; but in confess­ing sonship you proclaimed righteousness, sanctification, redemp­tion, forgiveness of sins, involvement of the Spirit. All these had to be present beforehand, you see, for us to enjoy sonship in this way and be deemed worthy to call him Father. Now, he seems to me to be hinting at something else in speak­ing this way: the phrase in his saints means through his saints." 

Cassiodorus provides a possible means of reconciling the two interpretations of the first phrase, as well as the link between this psalm and Psalm 1:

"We must carefully observe the pleasurable sweetness with which this book of psalms ends, and how it looks back to its begin­ning. The prophet says that now that the saints have been received in the heavenly Jerusalem, it is right to praise the Lord, that is, it is right for those to whom He has revealed the shape of right behaviour. Earlier it was said of Him: Blessed is the man who has not walked in the counsel of the ungodly, and the rest; for the saints are those who by His generosity have deserved to imitate Him. There is a fitting explanation of the kind of reverence owed to the saints; it is the Lord who is to be praised because they are justified, and not they themselves, for His glory should be hymned first since He permits the deeds which are to be acclaimed. Veneration is however to be accorded to the just, because they have received divine gifts. Next follows: Praise him in the firmament of his power. The strength of his power lies in the fact that He endured destruction for the salvation of all, and by virtue of His power overcame death itself, together with its most wicked founder; He sundered the bars of hell, and led strong believers to the kingdom of heaven."

Pope St John Paul II  also points to the two levels of interpretation possible here:

The "sanctuary" is the first place where the musical and the prayerful theme unfolds (cf. v. 1). The original Hebrew speaks of the pure, transcendent "sacred" area in which God dwells. It is then a reference to the horizon of heaven and paradise where, as the Book of the Apocalypse will explain, the eternal, perfect liturgy of the Lamb is celebrated (cf. for example, Apoc 5,6-14). The mystery of God, in which the saints are welcomed for full communion, is a place of light and joy, of revelation and love. We can understand why the Septuagint translation and the Latin Vulgate use the word "saints" instead of "sanctuary":  "Praise the Lord in his saints!" General Audience, Wednesday 9 January 2002

Laudáte eum in virtútibus ejus: *laudáte eum secúndum multitúdinem magnitúdinis ejus.
Laudate eum in magnalibus eius, laudate eum secundum multitudinem magnitudinis eius.
Laudate eum in fortitudinibus eius : laudate eum iuxta multitudinem magnificentiae suae.

ανετε ατν π τας δυναστείαις ατο ανετε ατν κατ τ πλθος τς μεγαλωσύνης ατο

In virtútibus ejus=his acts of power, because of his mighty deeds; secúndum multitúdinem magnitúdinis ejus=by reason of the multitude of his power, for the greatness of his power

magnitudo, mis, greatness, power, majesty.
multitudo inis f  a large number, multitude; abundance, greatness; great, mighty.

Praise him for his mighty acts: praise him according to the multitude of his greatness.
Praise him on account of his mighty acts: praise him according to his abundant greatness.
Praise Him for His deeds of valor, praise him for the greatness of His might
Praise him in his noble acts; praise him according to his excellent greatness.

The point here is that God is not far away from us, even when in his highest heaven, as St Augustine explains:

Why should not they also be called the works of God's strength, which He has done in them: yea rather, they themselves are the works of His strength; just as it is said, We are the righteousness of God in Him. For what more powerful than that He should reign for ever, with all His enemies put under His feet? Why should not they also be the multitude of His greatness? Not that whereby He is great, but whereby He has made them great, many as they are, that is, thousands of thousands. Just as righteousness too is understood in two ways, that whereby He is righteous, and that which He works in us, so as to make us His righteousness. 

Pope St John Paul II sees the verse as making the link between God's acts in history to the liturgy which helps us ascend to heaven:

Yet he is close to us:  he is present in the "holy place" of Zion and acts in history through his "mighty deeds" that reveal and enable one to experience "his surpassing greatness" (cf. vv. 1-2). Thus between heaven and earth a channel of communication is established in which the action of the Lord meets the hymn of praise of the faithful. The liturgy unites the two holy places, the earthly temple and the infinite heavens, God and man, time and eternity. During the prayer, we accomplish an ascent towards the divine light and together experience a descent of God who adapts himself to our limitations in order to hear and speak to us, meet us and save us. 

Psalm 150: Laudate Dominum
Laudáte Dóminum in sanctis ejus: * laudáte eum in firmaménto virtútis ejus.
Praise the Lord in his holy places: praise him in the firmament of his power.
2  Laudáte eum in virtútibus ejus: * laudáte eum secúndum multitúdinem magnitúdinis ejus.
2 Praise him for his mighty acts: praise him according to the multitude of his greatness.
3  Laudáte eum in sono tubæ: * laudáte eum in psaltério, et cíthara.
3 Praise him with the sound of trumpet: praise him with psaltery and harp.
4  Laudáte eum in tympano, et choro: * laudáte eum in chordis, et órgano
4 Praise him with timbrel and choir: praise him with strings and organs.
5  Laudáte eum in cymbalis benesonántibus: laudáte eum in cymbalis jubilatiónis: * omnis spíritus laudet Dóminum.
5 Praise him on high sounding cymbals: praise him on cymbals of joy: 6 Let every spirit praise the Lord. Alleluia

And you can find the next set of notes on this psalm here.

No comments:

Post a Comment