Monday, June 2, 2014

Psalm 50 in the daily Office

The second repeated psalm of Lauds is Psalm 50.  As I've previously dealt with it in detail (see below for links to previous posts), I won't linger on it here.

I do, however, want to spend a few lines to pondering the reasons why St Benedict included it as one of the repeated psalms of the Office.

Contrition

I noted in relation to Psalm 66 that there is a certain symmetry in the opening call for God to have mercy on us: Psalm 66 uses the verb misereor twice, this psalm famously adds the third invocation of it; the three Laudate psalms can be seen as the counterbalance to these.

Indeed, the Miserere is surely one of the most poignant psalms in the psalter, acknowledging our sinful state, and encouraging us to beg God's forgiveness of our sins.

Accordingly, St Benedict perhaps includes it each day at least in part for the same reasons he specifies that the Superior of the community should say the Our Father each day: monks and nuns may aspire to perfection, but are still but human, and prone to sin, in need of constant conversion.

Praise and mission

Nonetheless, the Miserere is not all about contrition, or, perhaps more accurately sets contrition before us as a necessary foundation rather than an end in itself, for the second half of the psalm goes very much to the mission of the Christian.

That mission, the psalms of Lauds makes clear, is twofold: firstly to praise and worship God; and secondly to work to advance his kingdom in the world.

Verses 15&16 go to the praise of God, with the latter used daily to open Matins:

15  Líbera me de sanguínibus, Deus, Deus salútis meæ: * et exsultábit lingua mea justítiam tuam.
Deliver me from blood, O God, you God of my salvation: and my tongue shall extol your justice.   
16  Dómine, lábia mea apéries: * et os meum annuntiábit laudem tuam.
O Lord, you will open my lips: and my mouth shall declare your praise.

The psalm also speaks to the mission of building up the Church:

14  Docébo iníquos vias tuas: * et ímpii ad te converténtur.
I will teach the unjust your ways: and the wicked shall be converted to you.
19  Benígne fac, Dómine, in bona voluntáte tua Sion: * ut ædificéntur muri Jerúsalem.
Deal favourably, O Lord, in your good will with Sion; that the walls of Jerusalem may be built up.

Verse by verse notes

You can find more detailed notes on the psalm here:

Introduction to Psalm 50
Psalm 50: verses 1-4
Psalm 50: verses 5-6
Psalm 50: verses 7-9
Psalm 50: verses 10-12
Psalm 50: verses 13-15
Psalm 50: verse 16
Psalm 50: verses 17-18
Psalm 50: verses 19-20

Psalm 50: Miserere me Deus 
Vulgate
Douay-Rheims
In finem. Psalmus David cum venit ad eum Nathan propheta, quando intravit ad Bethsabee.
Unto the end, a psalm of David, 2 when Nathan the prophet came to him, after he had sinned with Bethsabee.
1 Miserére mei Deus, * secúndum magnam misericórdiam tuam.
Have mercy on me, O God, according to your great mercy.
2  Et secúndum multitúdinem miseratiónum tuárum, * dele iniquitátem meam.
And according to the multitude of your tender mercies blot out my iniquity.
3  Amplius lava me ab iniquitáte mea: * et a peccáto meo munda me.
Wash me yet more from my iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin.
4  Quóniam iniquitátem meam ego cognósco: * et peccátum meum contra me est semper.
For I know my iniquity, and my sin is always before me.
5  Tibi soli peccávi, et malum coram te feci: * ut justificéris in sermónibus tuis, et vincas cum judicáris.
To you only have I sinned, and have done evil before you: that you may be justified in your words, and may overcome when you are judged.
6  Ecce enim in iniquitátibus concéptus sum: * et in peccátis concépit me mater mea.
For behold I was conceived in iniquities; and in sins did my mother conceive me.
7  Ecce enim veritátem dilexísti: * incérta et occúlta sapiéntiæ tuæ manifestásti mihi.
For behold you have loved truth: the uncertain and hidden things of your wisdom you have made manifest to me.
8  Aspérges me hyssópo, et mundábor: * lavábis me, et super nivem dealbábor.
You shall sprinkle me with hyssop, and I shall be cleansed: you shall wash me, and I shall be made whiter than snow.
9  Audítui meo dabis gáudium et lætítiam: * et exsultábunt ossa humiliáta.
To my hearing you shall give joy and gladness: and the bones that have been humbled shall rejoice.
10  Avérte fáciem tuam a peccátis meis: * et omnes iniquitátes meas dele.
Turn away your face from my sins, and blot out all my iniquities.
11  Cor mundum crea in me, Deus: * et spíritum rectum ínnova in viscéribus meis.
Create a clean heart in me, O God: and renew a right spirit within my bowels.
12  Ne projícias me a fácie tua: * et spíritum sanctum tuum ne áuferas a me.
Cast me not away from your face; and take not your holy spirit from me.
13  Redde mihi lætítiam salutáris tui: * et spíritu principáli confírma me.
Restore unto me the joy of your salvation, and strengthen me with a perfect spirit.
14  Docébo iníquos vias tuas: * et ímpii ad te converténtur.
I will teach the unjust your ways: and the wicked shall be converted to you.
15  Líbera me de sanguínibus, Deus, Deus salútis meæ: * et exsultábit lingua mea justítiam tuam.
Deliver me from blood, O God, you God of my salvation: and my tongue shall extol your justice.   
16  Dómine, lábia mea apéries: * et os meum annuntiábit laudem tuam.
O Lord, you will open my lips: and my mouth shall declare your praise.
17  Quóniam si voluísses sacrifícium dedíssem útique: * holocáustis non delectáberis.
For if you had desired sacrifice, I would indeed have given it: with burnt offerings you will not be delighted.
18  Sacrifícium Deo spíritus contribulátus: * cor contrítum, et humiliátum, Deus non despícies.
A sacrifice to God is an afflicted spirit: a contrite and humbled heart, O God, you will not despise.
19  Benígne fac, Dómine, in bona voluntáte tua Sion: * ut ædificéntur muri Jerúsalem.
Deal favourably, O Lord, in your good will with Sion; that the walls of Jerusalem may be built up.
20  Tunc acceptábis sacrifícium justítiæ, oblatiónes, et holocáusta: * tunc impónent super altáre tuum vítulos.
Then shall you accept the sacrifice of justice, oblations and whole burnt offerings: then shall they lay calves upon your altar.


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