Saturday, September 20, 2014

Psalm 32 v 3-5

Verses 3-5 of Psalm 32 make clear the Messianic context of the psalm.

Cantáte ei cánticum novum: * bene psállite ei in vociferatióne.
cantate ei canticum novum bene psallite ei in iubilatione
Cantate ei canticum nouum; diligenter psallite in iubilo;

ᾄσατε αὐτῷ ᾆσμα καινόν καλῶς ψάλατε ἐν ἀλαλαγμῷ

Cantáte (sing) ei (to/for him) cánticum (a song) novum (new): * bene (well/rightly) psállite (sing) ei (to him) in (with) vociferatióne (jubilation/loud shouting).

The term 'new song' denotes a Messianic reference, as Eusebius of Caesaria pointed out (Bk I c iv) and endorsed in an opinion from the Pontifical Biblical Commission - the psalms that use it reference Rev 5:9, a people of God out of every tribe and tongue and people and nation.  This a psalm, then, that sings of the Messianic age.

canto, avi, atum, are to sing, to praise in song
canticum, i, n. a song, canticle
novus, a, um,  new.
bene, adv. well; rightly, uprightly.
psallo, ere 3 to sing to the accompaniment of a stringed instrument; to sing the praises of God.
in+abl = with, in, on among, by means of
vociferatio onis f outcry, clamor; loud shouting, jubilation

 Sing to him a new canticle, sing well unto him with a loud noise.
Sing to him a new song; play skillfully with a loud noise.
Sing unto the Lord a new song; sing praises lustily unto him with a good courage.
O sing him a song that is new, play loudly, with all your skill.

When we read a psalm verse with the phrase sing 'a new song' (canticum novum), verse 3, we are liable to take it pretty literally, as 'compose a new hymn'.  Indeed, the Navarre commentary's take on the phrase in Psalm 39 (40) is "God inspires the psalmist to sing a "new" song as distinct from one of lamentation over his suffering..." (Psalms, p151).  There is certainly something useful to be gleaned from the literal approach to this text, for amongst the Theologians, St Thomas used it to comment on the appropriateness of various types of music in worship, while Bellarmine comments on the importance of appropriate devotion to the divine office, and the need for an appropriately manly tone when singing it.

All the same, the Fathers interpreted this phrase primarily in the context of its use in Isaiah 42, that makes clear its Messianic significance; and in the light of Revelation 5, that makes it clear that what follows is a song of the people formed by the New Covenant, the Church:

"...and they sang a new song, saying, "Worthy art thou to take the scroll and to open its seals, for thou wast slain and by thy blood didst ransom men for God from every tribe and tongue and people and nation, and hast made them a kingdom and priests to our God, and they shall reign on earth." 

When the monk read the phrase 'canticum novum' (new song), then, (as occurs in Psalms 32, 39, 95, 97, 143, and 149) he was likely to interpret what followed as a song about Messianic times, as the most popular medieval commentary on the psalms, that by St Benedict's contemporary Cassiodorus, makes clear:

"The new canticle means the Lord's incarnation, at which the world was filled with the exultation of salvation and the angels sounded forth with tuneful voices..."  That is, invoke God by good works; jubilation is joy expressed with warmth of spirit and the cry of intermingled voices.  In this jubilation only he who shows eagerness for goodly living can sing well.  Ponder the salutary teaching which forewarns us that we must sing with innocence before the Lord, who knows our passions and our hearts;  this is to prevent our sinning more seriously by appearing to approach such great mysteries with wickedness and guile."

Quia rectum est verbum Dómini, * et ómnia ópera ejus in fide.

quoniam rectus est sermo Domini et omnia opera eius in fide
quia rectum est uerbum Domini, et omne opus eius in fide.

ὅτι εὐθὴς ὁ λόγος τοῦ κυρίου καὶ πάντα τὰ ἔργα αὐτοῦ ἐν πίστει

Quia (for) rectum (right/upright) est (he is) verbum (the word) Dómini (of the Lord) * et (and) ómnia (all) ópera (the works) ejus (his) in (with) fide (faithfulness).

The last verse gave a us the Messianic prompt 'new song'; this one is more direct referring to the word, or logos.  The Greek euthus means straight, direct, plain, honest in classical Greek, hence Brenton's 'right'; NETS renders it 'upright'.

rectus, a, um, part. adj. just, right, righteous, upright; the just, just men, the good; steadfast, stable, steady.
verbum, i, n.,word, command, edict, also a promise; saying, speech; Law, the Eternal Son.
opus, eris, n., work.

fides ei f faithfulness, trustworthiness

For the word of the Lord is right, and all his works are done with faithfulness.
For the word of the Lord is right; and all his works are faithful.
For the word of the Lord is true; and all his works are faithful.
For the word of the Lord is faithful and all his works to be trusted.

Why should we rejoice? The psalm now turns to giving us some reasons.  St Thomas links the first part of the verse to the opening line of Psalm 118 for Terce today, 'Thy word is a lamp to my feet' (Psalm 118:105), to God's teaching and doctrine.  The second phrase refers to his works of creation and providential plan for history. 

Díligit misericórdiam et judícium: * misericórdia Dómini plena est terra.
Diligit iustitiam et iudicium; misericordia Domini plena est terra.

ἀγαπᾷ ἐλεημοσύνην καὶ κρίσιν τοῦ ἐλέους κυρίου πλήρης ἡ γῆ 

Díligit (he loves) misericórdiam (mercy) et (and) judícium (justice/judgment): misericórdia (the mercy) Dómini (of the Lord) plena (filled) est (it is) terra (the earth).

diligo, lexi, lectum, ere 3  to love;  
misericordia, ae,, mercy, kindness, favor, compassion, loving-kindness
judicium, i, n.  judgment, decrees; law, commandment; the power, or faculty of judging wisely; justice.
plenus, a, um full, filled.

terra, ae, f the earth;  orbis terrae, the world; a country, esp. the Land of Israel

He loves mercy and judgment; the earth is full of the mercy of the Lord.
He loves mercy and judgment; the earth is full the mercy of the Lord.
He loves righteousness and justice; the earth is full of the steadfast love of the LORD.
faithfulness he loves, and the just award, the whole earth overflows with the Lord’s goodness.
He loveth righteousness and judgement; the earth is full of the goodness of the Lord.
The Lord loves justice and right and fills the earth with his love.

The combination of mercy and justice is crucial for as St Basil points out, if justice alone prevailed, none of us would be saved:

"The Lord 'loveth mercy and judgment; the earth is full of the mercy of the Lord/ If the judgment of God, who renders precisely according to our deserts what is due to us for our deeds, should be by itself, what hope would there be? Who of all mankind would be saved? But, as it is, 'He loveth mercy and judgment.' It is as if He had made mercy a coadjutor to Himself, standing before the royal throne of His judgment, and thus He leads each one to judgment. 'If thou, O Lord, wilt mark iniquities: Lord, who shall stand it?' Neither is mercy without judgment, nor judgment without mercy. He loves mercy, therefore, before judgment, and after mercy He comes to judgment. However, these qualities are joined to each other, mercy and judgment, lest either mercy alone should produce presumption, or judgment alone cause despair."

Psalm 32: Exsultáte, justi in Dómino
Psalmus David.
A psalm for David.
1 Exsultáte, justi in Dómino: * rectos decet collaudátio.
Rejoice in the Lord, O you just: praise becomes the upright.
2  Confitémini Dómino in cíthara: * in psaltério decem chordárum psállite illi.
2 Give praise to the Lord on the harp; sing to him with the psaltery, the instrument of ten strings
3  Cantáte ei cánticum novum: * bene psállite ei in vociferatióne.
3 Sing to him a new canticle, sing well unto him with a loud noise.
4  Quia rectum est verbum Dómini, * et ómnia ópera ejus in fide.
4 For the word of the Lord is right, and all his works are done with faithfulness.
5  Díligit misericórdiam et judícium: * misericórdia Dómini plena est terra.
5 He loves mercy and judgment; the earth is full of the mercy of the Lord.
6 Verbo Dómini cæli firmáti sunt: * et spíritu oris ejus omnis virtus eórum.
6 By the word of the Lord the heavens were established; and all the power of them by the spirit of his mouth:
7  Cóngregans sicut in utre aquas maris: * ponens in thesáuris abyssos.
7 Gathering together the waters of the sea, as in a vessel; laying up the depths in storehouses.
8  Tímeat Dóminum omnis terra: * ab eo autem commoveántur omnes inhabitántes orbem.
8 Let all the earth fear the Lord, and let all the inhabitants of the world be in awe of him.
9  Quóniam ipse dixit, et facta sunt: * ipse mandávit, et creáta sunt.
9 For he spoke and they were made: he commanded and they were created.
10  Dóminus díssipat consília Géntium: * réprobat autem cogitatiónes populórum et réprobat consília príncipum.
10 The Lord brings to nought the counsels of nations; and he rejects the devices of people, and casts away the counsels of princes.
11  Consílium autem Dómini in ætérnum manet: * cogitatiónes cordis ejus in generatióne et generatiónem.
11 But the counsel of the Lord stands for ever: the thoughts of his heart to all generations.

12 Beáta gens, cujus est Dóminus, Deus ejus: * pópulus, quem elégit in hereditátem sibi.
12 Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord: the people whom he has chosen for his inheritance.
13  De cælo respéxit Dóminus: * vidit omnes fílios hóminum.
13 The Lord has looked from heaven: he has beheld all the sons of men.
14  De præparáto habitáculo suo * respéxit super omnes, qui hábitant terram.
14 From his habitation which he has prepared, he has looked upon all that dwell on the earth.
15  Qui finxit sigillátim corda eórum: * qui intélligit ómnia ópera eórum.
15 He who has made the hearts of every one of them: who understands all their works.
16  Non salvátur rex per multam virtútem: * et gigas non salvábitur in multitúdine virtútis suæ.
16 The king is not saved by a great army: nor shall the giant be saved by his own great strength.
17  Fallax equus ad salútem: * in abundántia autem virtútis suæ non salvábitur.
17 Vain is the horse for safety: neither shall he be saved by the abundance of his strength.
18 Ecce óculi Dómini super metuéntes eum: * et in eis, qui sperant super misericórdia ejus :
18 Behold the eyes of the Lord are on them that fear him: and on them that hope in his mercy.
19  Ut éruat a morte ánimas eórum: * et alat eos in fame.
19 To deliver their souls from death; and feed them in famine.
20  Anima nostra sústinet Dóminum: * quóniam adjútor et protéctor noster est.
20 Our soul waits for the Lord: for he is our helper and protector.
21  Quia in eo lætábitur cor nostrum: * et in nómine sancto ejus sperávimus.
21 For in him our heart shall rejoice: and in his holy name we have trusted.
22  Fiat misericórdia tua, Dómine, super nos: * quemádmodum sperávimus in te.
22 Let your mercy, O Lord, be upon us, as we have hoped in you.

You can find the next set of notes on Psalm 32 here.

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