Saturday, March 18, 2017

Are you truly a servant of God? - Psalm 133 v1 (Gradual Psalm No 15/2)

Ely Cathedral
Source: Portmanteaus Blog

** Apologies to those who saw a note on the previous post suggesting I was ending the series at that point. I had inadvertently left comments from a previous draft there - the series will continue!**

The first verse of Psalm 133 can be interpreted either as a call to worship, or more generally, to live according to God's precepts.

Ecce nunc benedícite Dóminum, * omnes servi Dómini
Ecce benedicite Domino,  onmes serui Domini, 

ᾠδὴ τῶν ἀναβαθμῶν ἰδοὺ δὴ εὐλογεῖτε τὸν κύριον πάντες οἱ δοῦλοι κυρίου
ecce, adv. (from en and ce), lol see! behold
nunc, adv. at present, at this moment
benedico, dixi, dictum, ere 3, to bless
omnis, e, all, each, every; subst., all men, all things, everything
servus – servant;

Behold now bless the Lord, all you servants of the Lord
Come now, bless the Lord, all ye servants of the Lord
Behold now, bless ye the Lord, all the servants of the Lord
Come, bless the LORD, all you servants of the LORD,
Behold now, praise the Lord, all ye servants of the Lord
Come, then, praise the Lord, all you that are the Lord’s servants
O come, bless the Lord, all you who serve the Lord,

Ecce can be translated here as either behold or perhaps 'come'.  St Jerome suggests the latter interpretation, saying:
When one says ‘Come’ the invitation is just as definite as if one were pointing at you with his finger...
This is then, one last call to repentance, to ensuring we are on the right, and true path that reflects God's way.

Why the emphasis on now (nunc) though?  Cassiodorus provides two explanations: the first being that only at this point, after we have advanced in virtue are we worthy to worship.  He says:
Now is added because after the ascent of all these steps, only He who permit­ted such great progress deserved to be praised. There was first the fact that he had successfully made the ascent, and secondly that after this upward step he had no other to mount; the Lord is to be proclaimed with greater zeal when by His generosity He makes us untroubled. 
The ‘servants of the Lord’ probably literally referred to priests and levites who exercized priestly functions in the Temple.  But 'servant of the Lord’ has a much more general meaning as well, applied in the Old Testament to those entrusted with special missions (such as Moses) and in the New to all who truly follow Christ.  The key point, the Fathers emphasise, is that we are not talking about just anyone here, but those who can rightfully claim the title title of servant of God.  Theodoret of Cyrus, for example, comments that for those who have not yet attempted to make the ascent:
those who have been affected by the wounds of sin it is appropriate to weep, to lament, and to request the divine loving kindness.

 Psalm 133: Compline daily; Gradual Psalm No 15
Canticum graduum
A gradual canticle
1 Ecce nunc benedícite Dóminum, * omnes servi Dómini
Behold now bless the Lord, all you servants of the Lord
2 Qui statis in domo Dómini, * in átriis domus Dei nostri.
Who stand in the house of the Lord, in the courts of the house of our God
3 In nóctibus extóllite manus vestras in sancta, * et benedícite Dóminum.
In the nights lift up your hands to the holy places, and bless the Lord.
4 Benedícat te Dóminus ex Sion, * qui fecit cælum et terram.
May the Lord out of Sion bless you, he that made heaven and earth.

And for the next part of this series, go here.

1 comment:

  1. Hi Kate, I was one of the participants in your "Breviary" course. I just wanted to thank you for this blog and other "blogs" you have which have been so useful to me. At the same time wishing you a very happy St Joseph's day. Best wishes