Monday, July 19, 2010

Significant Psalm Verses

I particularly like the psalms read on Monday in the Breviary.

(Yes, there are those who would refer with disdain to this arrangement of the psalmody as a sad excess of St Pius X's glorious reign, and regard as truly holy and Roman the pre-1912, immemorial arrangement alone...  There are also those who prefer the post-Conciliar four-week arrangement of the psalter; and of course the Anglican 30-day cycle is already, via the Anglican Use Book of Divine Worship, part of the Patrimony that Anglicanorum cœtibus recognizes as valuable for the wider Church.)

Monday features the following psalmody during the Day Hours: Pss 46 (including the famous words Psallite sapienter), 5, 28 and 116 at Lauds, pleasingly short; Pss 23 and 18 at Prime (both most suitable); Pss 26 and 27 at Terce; Ps 30 at Sext; Pss 31 and 32 at None; Pss 114, 115, 119, 120 and 121 at Vespers; and Pss 6 and 7 at Compline.

(I must say, though, I don't at all like having variable psalms at Compline: it was a bad mistake not to retain Pss 4, 30:1-6, 90 and 133 for Compline every day, and to that extent at least I agree with the many scholars and learned men who criticised the weekly redistribution of the psalms in the Divine Office made by order of Pope St Pius X.)

Here are some of the particular verses that struck me to-day...
  • mentita est iniquitas sibi - "inquity hath lied to herself" (Ps 26:12b)
How true it is: "O what a tangled web we weave / When first we study to deceive" – everyone likes to rationalize away one's sins, and indeed all who fall a prey to sin are to that extent deceived and deceiving.  Only God the Lord, all-pure, all-holy, can neither deceive nor be deceived: "Truth Himself speaks truly / Or there's nothing true" as wise Aquinas wrote.
  • Et refloruit caro mea... And my flesh flourished again... (Ps 27:7b)
What a wonderful thought: as it says somewhere, Their bones shall flourish as the grass...  God is good to His people.

These two verses following are always highlights of the Little Hours for me: they match up very well with the little chapter read at Compline in the Ambrosian Rite (see below), which I adopted – do any devotees remember? – for the Fratres Oratorii, that little essay at attempting something along the lines of the Oratorian spirit of prayer and meditation, while I was in Perth.
Expecta Dominum, viriliter age: et confortetur cor tuum, et sustine Dominum.  (Ps 26:14)
Expect the Lord, do manfully: and let thy heart be strengthened, and wait for the Lord.
(Last verse of the second portion of the psalmody at Terce on Mondays.)
Viriliter agite, et confortetur cor vestrum, omnes, qui speratis in Domino.  (Ps 30:25)
Do manfully, and let your heart be strengthened, all who hope in the Lord.
(Last verse of the psalmody at Sext on Mondays.)

Compare this with the "Epistolella" at Compline in the Ambrosian Rite:
Fratres: Vigilate, orate, state in fide: viriliter agite et confortamini in Domino: et omnia vestra in caritate faciant.  (Cf. I Cor. xvi, 13. 14.)
Brothers: Keep watch, pray, stand firm in the faith: act manfully and be strengthened in the Lord: and let all your works be done in charity.  
A programme indeed for Christian living...

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