Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Psalms of Compline (Short summaries)/1 - Psalm 4

12th-century painters - Winchester Bible - WGA15739.jpg

 Psalm 4 - Cum invocarem
In finem, in carminibus. Psalmus David.
Unto the end, in verses. A psalm for David.
1 Cum invocárem exaudívit me deus justítiæ meæ: *  in tribulatióne dilatásti mihi.
When I called upon him, the God of my justice heard me: when I was in distress, you have enlarged me.
2 Miserére mei, * et exáudi oratiónem meam.
Have mercy on me: and hear my prayer.
3 Filii hóminum, úsquequo gravi corde? *  ut quid dilígitis vanitátem et quæritis mendácium?
O you sons of men, how long will you be dull of heart? Why do you love vanity, and seek after lying?
4 Et scitóte quóniam mirificávit dóminus sanctum suum: * dóminus exáudiet me cum clamávero ad eum.
Know also that the Lord has made his holy one wonderful: the Lord will hear me when I shall cry unto him.
5 Irascímini, et nolíte peccáre: * quæ dícitis in córdibus vestris, in cubílibus vestris compungímini.
Be angry, and sin not: the things you say in your hearts, be sorry for them upon your beds.
6 Sacrificáte sacrifícium justítiæ, et speráte in dómino, * multi dicunt quis osténdit nobis bona?
Offer up the sacrifice of justice, and trust in the Lord: many say, Who shows us good things?
7 Signátum est super nos lumen vultus tui, dómine: *  dedísti lætítiam in corde meo.
The light of your countenance, O Lord, is signed upon us: you have given gladness in my heart.
8 A fructu fruménti, vini et ólei sui * multiplicáti sunt.
By the fruit of their corn, their wine, and oil, they rest
9 In pace in idípsum * dórmiam et requiéscam;
In peace in the self same I will sleep, and I will rest
10 Quóniam tu, dómine, singuláriter in spe * constituísti me.
For you, O Lord, singularly have settled me in hope.

Pronouncing the words

You can heard the psalm read aloud slowly in Latin over at the Boston Catholic Journal.

Once you are confident of the pronunciation, try singing it with the monks - the videos below are one option, alternatively, listen to one of the archived audio files of Compline sung by the monks of Le Barroux..

(and for those who can't access this video, see below)

The sense of the psalm

Pick the summary of your choice and learn it, or copy it to create a cheat sheet to have handy for when you say the Office:

St Alphonsus Liguori:
According to interpreters this psalm was composed by David, happy to see himself delivered from the hands of Saul, or of Absalom. In a mystical sense it is applied to Jesus Christ inasmuch as he is the end of the law and of the prophets. Jesus Christ, of whom David was a figure, is properly the Saint of God, the Saint by eminence, he whom God has glorified above everyone else in a wonderful manner, v. 4; our Master and our Model, he reminds us at first of the efficacy of prayer: then he exhorts us to detach ourselves from the goods of this world, to flee from sin, to practise virtue, and to seek only justice, sanctity, by putting our whole confidence in God.
Fr Pius Pasch:
Trustful evening prayer. To oppose the allurements of the world, this psalm makes us aware of the good fortune of union with God.  It was a favorite with St. Augustine.  We ought to pray it, he observes, "trembling with fear, and yet all aglow with hope and exultation at God's mercy."
End does not mean here the decline of some object but the perfection of rungs of the spirit; as Paul says: The end of the law is Christ, unto justice to everyone that believeth? Christ is the glorious perfection of all good things. So the words, Unto the end, remind us that they are to be related to the Lord Christ, or as some prefer, we are to believe that they refer to us...Throughout the psalm the words are spoken by holy mother Church...  In the first section she asks that her prayer be heard, and rebukes the faithless for worshipping false gods and ne­glecting worship of the true God. In the second part she warns the world at large that it must abandon deceitful superstition, and offer the sacrifice of justice. Then in her attempt to win over the minds of pagans by the promise she has made, she relates that the Lord has bestowed great gifts on Christians…
My summary (in the context of the Benedictine Office): 
Psalm 4 recapitulates some of the key themes of the Benedictine Office (and Rule): the Benedictine day starts with an allusion to the call to praise God, to offer up the sacrifice of justice in verse 16 of Psalm 50 at Matins; here again in this psalm the Office recalls this sacrificial dimension of our prayer (v6).   In Psalm 94 at Matins we are called not to harden our hearts lest we be lost; so here again, God asks how long we will fail to heed his call to conversion (v3).  Just as Lauds we celebrate the rising sun, and the light of Christ, so here we are reminded that his is the light that shines in the darkness (v7), the grace that enlarges our hearts through grace (v1, 4) so that we can run 'with the unspeakable sweetness of love' (RB Prologue).  Above all the psalms calls on us to repent and asks God to grant us forgiveness and the grace to do better in future; and asks for God’s blessing on our sleep (v5), so that we can rise up again with him on the morrow (Ps 3).  

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