Sunday, October 23, 2016

Psalm 62 - Watching at the break of day

Psalm 62 - Sunday Lauds
Psalmus David, cum esset in deserto Idumææ.
A psalm of David while he was in the desert of Edom.
1 Deus, Deus meus, * ad te de luce vígilo.
O my God, to you do I watch at break of day.
2  Sitívit in te ánima mea, * quam multiplíciter tibi caro mea.
For you my soul has thirsted; for you my flesh, O how many ways!
3  In terra desérta, et ínvia, et inaquósa: * sic in sancto appárui tibi, ut vidérem virtútem tuam, et glóriam tuam
3 In a desert land, and where there is no way, and no water: so in the sanctuary have I come before you, to see your power and your glory.
4  Quóniam mélior est misericórdia tua super vitas: * lábia mea laudábunt te.
4 For your mercy is better than lives: you my lips will praise.
5  Sic benedícam te in vita mea: * et in nómine tuo levábo manus meas.
5 Thus will I bless you all my life long: and in your name I will lift up my hands.
6  Sicut ádipe et pinguédine repleátur ánima mea: * et lábiis exsultatiónis laudábit os meum.
6 Let my soul be filled as with marrow and fatness: and my mouth shall praise you with joyful lips.
7  Si memor fui tui super stratum meum, in matutínis meditábor in te: * quia fuísti adjútor meus.
7 If I have remembered you upon my bed, I will meditate on you in the morning: 8 Because you have been my helper.
8  Et in velaménto alárum tuárum exsultábo, adhæsit ánima mea post te: * me suscépit déxtera tua.
And I will rejoice under the covert of your wings9 My soul has stuck close to you: your right hand has received me.
9  Ipsi vero in vanum quæsiérunt ánimam meam, introíbunt in inferióra terræ: * tradéntur in manus gládii, partes vúlpium erunt.
10 But they have fought my soul in vain, they shall go into the lower parts of the earth: 11 They shall be delivered into the hands of the sword, they shall be the portions of foxes.
10  Rex vero lætábitur in Deo, laudabúntur omnes qui jurant in eo: * quia obstrúctum est os loquéntium iníqua.
12 But the king shall rejoice in God, all they shall be praised that swear by him: because the mouth is stopped of them that speak wicked things.

The second variable psalm of Sunday Lauds, Psalm 62, is often regarded as the quintessential Lauds hymn due in particular to its opening line - in many other forms of the Office including the Roman it is (or was) said every day at this hour.

One of the puzzles about its place in St Benedict's Office though, is why it is placed after Psalm 117 rather than before it.  One possibility perhaps is that its imagery provides horizontal links to the other second variable psalms of Lauds.  In particular, the image of God protecting us with his wings also occurs in Psalms 35 and 56, and it contains a reference to at least one of the elements alluded to in all but one of these psalms, namely truth and mercy.

St Augustine provides a nice commentary on the title of the psalm that I think nicely captures the essence of the psalm:
This psalm has the title, For David himself, when he was in the desert of Idumæa. By the name of Idumæa is understood this world. For Idumæa was a certain nation of men going astray, where idols were worshipped. 
In no good sense is put this Idumæa. If not in a good sense it is put, it must be understood that this life, wherein we suffer so great toils, and wherein to so great necessities we are made subject, by the name of Idumæa is signified. Even here is a desert where there is much thirst, and you are to hear the voice of One now thirsting in the desert. 
But if we acknowledge ourselves as thirsting, we shall acknowledge ourselves as drinking also. For he that thirsts in this world, in the world to come shall be satisfied, according to the Lord's saying, Blessed are they that hunger and thirst after righteousness, for the same shall be satisfied. 
Therefore in this world we ought not to love fullness. Here we must thirst, in another place we shall be filled. But now in order that we may not faint in this desert, He sprinkles upon us the dew of His word, and leaves us not utterly to dry up, so that there should not be in our case any seeking of us again, but that we may so thirst as that we may drink. But in order that we may drink, with somewhat of His Grace we are sprinkled: nevertheless we thirst. And what says our soul to God?
You can find my previous notes on this psalm here and the next part in this series here.

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