Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Masterpost: Links to notes by Psalm number

Links to notes on the psalms by number (Scriptural order):

6 *











*Includes verse by verse notes

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Footnote to the series on Psalm 2: Psalm 2 in the Benedictine Office

Over the course of my recent mini-series on Psalm 2 I tried to draw out some of the connections of the psalm to the Christmas season, as well as to Benedictine spirituality more generally.

I thought it might be useful to conclude the series by drawing together a few key strands of my thinking, and inviting comments on my particular take on the psalm.

Liturgy as Scriptural commentary

One of the key premises of this blog is that the texts of the liturgy in general - and the Benedictine Office in particular - are not simply random or mere mechanistic assemblies of texts designed to suit the convenience of their users, but rather carefully constructed spiritual edifices, intended to convey, whether we realise it explicitly or not, deep meanings. 

Some psalms are rather easier to interpret in this regard than others - the reasons for the use of  Psalm 2 in the Christmas liturgy, for example, is reasonably obvious.  The psalm was also used as a responsory on the Sundays after Epiphany in Rome (preserving one of the 'old Roman' chants, presumably because of its connection both to the Incarnation and Christ's kingship, key themes of the season.

Some of the deeper meanings of the psalms though, particularly when we read them in the context of the liturgy, require us to recover the mindset of those who decided on their positioning, requiring the use of Patristic methods of interpretation.

Psalm 2 and Benedictine spirituality

So why, then, does St Benedict allocate Psalm 2 to Monday Prime?

I noted in the introduction to this mini-series on Psalm 2 that the overarching themes of the psalm fit very well with that of the other psalms set for Prime across the week, such as God's constant scrutiny of us from above; Christ as the first and last, the essential foundation for the ascent through grace; and the kingship of Christ.

It is probably relevant too, that the psalm articulates the first of St Benedict's steps of humility, fear of the Lord.

Psalm 2 and the Incarnation

But the more fundamental reason for its use on Monday, I would suggest, lies in that verse used in the Christmas Introit, 'Thou art my son, this day have I begotten Thee'.

The Benedictine Office, I've previously argued, includes a weekly cycle around the life of Christ.

The idea that the liturgical week should involve a repeated remembrance of the key events in the life of Christ is first clearly articulated, as far as I can find, by Pope Innocent I, in a letter defending the Roman practice of fasting on Saturdays, written in 414 AD.  He said:
 If in fact we celebrate the Lord’s Day [Sunday] because of our Lord Jesus Christ’s resurrection—doing so not only at Easter but each week renewing the image of this feast—and if we fast on Friday because of the Lord’s suffering, then we should not omit Saturday which appears to be enclosed between a time of sorrow and a time of joy. In fact, it is evident that during these two days the apostles were in sorrow and hid themselves, doing so because of their fear of the Jews...This practice is to be observed each week so that the commemoration of this day be always observed...(trans Lawrence Johnson, Worship in the Early Church vol 3, pg 97)
In the case of the Office, the eighth century commentary by Amalarius of Metz (c 775-850) includes explanations of the texts for Lauds in relation to the day of the week in relation to the Roman Office, but it is the commentary on the Lauds (OT 'ferial') canticles by his contemporary, the great Benedictine Rabanus Maurus (780-856) that is perhaps most helpful for our purposes here.

Sunday's canticle (from Daniel 3), Maurus notes, refers to the work of creation. 

But there is another key Christological focus appropriate to the day -  aside from the Resurrection referred to by Pope Innocent - for on Sunday at Vespers, Psalm 109 proclaims the eternal generation of the son ('from the womb before the day-star have I begotten Thee').

On Monday (feria secunda), the emphasis shifts to the Incarnation, as Maurus summarises:
On Monday, truly the second day, the canticle of Isaiah, in which the coming of the Saviour and the sacrament of baptism is preached, is decreed to be said, because these are the beginning of our salvation. 
Psalm 2, it seems to me, is key to the development of that theme, and the separation of the two verses on Christ's generation (Psalms 109 and 2) between the two days serves to emphasize the distinction in the meaning of the respective verses.

I do hope you enjoyed this series and found it useful.  Comments, corrections or alternative interpretations are most welcome.

Saturday, January 6, 2018

Put your trust in God - Psalm 2 v 13

Today the the last set of verse by verse notes on Psalm 2.

Cum exárserit in brevi ira ejus: * beáti omnes qui confídunt in eo. 
cum exarserit post paululum furor eius beati omnes qui sperant in eum
ὅταν ἐκκαυθῇ ἐν τάχει ὁ θυμὸς αὐτοῦ μακάριοι πάντες οἱ πεποιθότες ἐ{P'} αὐτῷ

Cum (when) exárserit (it shall be/it has been enkindled) in brevi (in a short [time]) ira (anger) ejus (his): * beáti (blessed) omnes (all) qui (who) confídunt (they trust) in eo (in him). 

exardeo, arsi, arsum, ere 2, to kindle, to flame or break forth, break out
brevis, e With regard to time, short. With regard to number, small
confido, fisus sum, ere 3, to trust, to have or place confidence in.

When his wrath shall be kindled in a short time, blessed are all they that trust in him.
whensoever his wrath shall be suddenly kindled, blessed are all they that trust in him.
 For soon his wrath will be enkindled, Blessed are all that trust in Him
For his wrath is quickly kindled. Blessed are all who take refuge in him.
 if his wrath be kindled, yea but a little. Blessed are all they that put their trust in him.
When the fire of his vengeance blazes out suddenly, happy are they who find their refuge in him.
for suddenly his anger will blaze. Blessed are they who put their trust in God.

The reference to a short time in this verse is generally interpreted as referring not to our individual punishment, but to the Second Coming: St Thomas Aquinas for example points to 1 Cor 15: In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet.  The message is, don't put off your repentance!

St Augustine notes that those who put their trust in God, on the other hand, who have served God with their whole heart, can have confidence that they will be blessed: 
That is, when the vengeance shall come which is prepared for the ungodly and for sinners, not only will it not light on those who put their trust in the Lord, but it will even avail for the foundation and exaltation of a kingdom for them. For he said not, When His anger shall be shortly kindled, safe are all they who put their trust in Him, as though they should have this only thereby, to be exempt from punishment; but he said, blessed; in which there is the sum and accumulation of all good things. 
Happy Epiphany!

Psalm 2: Quare fremuérunt Gentes
Douay Rheims
Quare fremuérunt Gentes: * et pópuli meditáti sunt inánia?
Why have the Gentiles raged, and the people devised vain things?
2  Astitérunt reges terræ, et príncipes convenérunt in unum * advérsus Dóminum, et advérsus Christum ejus.
The kings of the earth stood up, and the princes met together, against the Lord, and against his Christ.
3  Dirumpámus víncula eórum: * et projiciámus a nobis jugum ipsórum.
Let us break their bonds asunder: and let us cast away their yoke from us.
 4. Qui hábitat in cælis, irridébit eos: * et Dóminus subsannábit eos.
He that dwells in heaven shall laugh at them: and the Lord shall deride them.
5  Tunc loquétur ad eos in ira sua, * et in furóre suo conturbábit eos.
Then shall he speak to them in his anger, and trouble them in his rage.
6  Ego autem constitútus sum Rex ab eo super Sion montem sanctum ejus, * prædicans præcéptum ejus.
But I am appointed king by him over Sion, his holy mountain, preaching his commandment.
7  Dóminus dixit ad me: * Fílius meus es tu, ego hódie génui te.
The Lord has said to me: You are my son, this day have I begotten you.
8  Póstula a me, et dábo tibi Gentes hereditátem tuam, * et possessiónem tuam términos terræ.
Ask of me, and I will give you the Gentiles for your inheritance, and the utmost parts of the earth for your possession
9  Reges eos in virga férrea, * et tamquam vas fíguli confrínges eos.
You shall rule them with a rod of iron, and shall break them in pieces like a potter's vessel.
10  Et nunc, reges, intellígite: * erudímini, qui judicátis terram.
And now, O you kings, understand: receive instruction, you that judge the earth.
11  Servíte Dómino in timóre: * et exsultáte ei cum   tremóre.
Serve the Lord with fear: and rejoice unto him with trembling.
12  Apprehéndite disciplínam, nequándo irascátur Dóminus, * et pereátis de via justa.
Embrace discipline, lest at any time the Lord be angry, and you perish from the just way.
13  Cum exárserit in brevi ira ejus: * beáti omnes qui confídunt in eo.
When his wrath shall be kindled in a short time, blessed are all they that trust in him.

And you can find some concluding comments on Psalm 2 here.