Desolation on the Cross
Its inclusion in Good Friday Tenebrae presumably depends above all on the verse 'I stretched forth my hands to you'. But the whole dark tone of the psalm, a plea for help, is particularly apt for that dark time when Christ struggled on the Cross:
"For the enemy hath persecuted my soul; he hath smitten
my life down to the ground; he hath laid me in the darkness,
as the men that have been long dead. Therefore is my spirit
vexed within me, and my heart within me is desolate." (Coverdale)
Yet it is also a psalm that speaks of a deep longing to be with God, and foreshadows for us, the gift of the Holy Spirit:
"Deliver me, O Lord, from mine enemies; for I flee unto thee to hide me. Teach me to do the thing that pleaseth thee; for thou art my God. Let thy loving Spirit lead me forth into the land of righteousness. Quicken me, O Lord, for thy
Name’s sake; and for thy righteousness’ sake bring my soul out of trouble."
The psalm closes with a reminder that we at at war, not just with earthly forces and our own sinful inclinations, but also but with diabolic powers. This is not one we can win for ourselves alone, but need God's aid to triumph:
"And of thy goodness slay mine enemies, and destroy all them that vex my soul; for I am thy servant."
A timely reminder on a day when we should be praying for the Holy Spirit to guide the Conclave in the election of the next Pope.
Domine, exaudi orationem meam; auribus percipe obsecrationem meam in veritate tua; exaudi me in tua justitia.
Et non intres in judicium cum servo tuo, quia non justificabitur in conspectu tuo omnis vivens.
Quia persecutus est inimicus animam meam; humiliavit in terra vitam meam;
collocavit me in obscuris, sicut mortuos sæculi. Et anxiatus est super me spiritus meus; in me turbatum est cor meum.
Memor fui dierum antiquorum; meditatus sum in omnibus operibus tuis : in factis manuum tuarum meditabar.
Expandi manus meas ad te; anima mea sicut terra sine aqua tibi.
Velociter exaudi me, Domine; defecit spiritus meus.
Non avertas faciem tuam a me, et similis ero descendentibus in lacum.
Auditam fac mihi mane misericordiam tuam, quia in te speravi.
Notam fac mihi viam in qua ambulem, quia ad te levavi animam meam.
Eripe me de inimicis meis, Domine : ad te confugi. Doce me facere voluntatem tuam, quia Deus meus es tu.
Spiritus tuus bonus deducet me in terram rectam. Propter nomen tuum, Domine, vivificabis me : in æquitate tua,
educes de tribulatione animam meam, et in misericordia tua disperdes inimicos meos,
et perdes omnes qui tribulant animam meam, quoniam ego servus tuus sum.
And the English:
Hear, O Lord, my prayer: give ear to my supplication in your truth: hear me in your justice.
And enter not into judgment with your servant: for in your sight no man living shall be justified.
For the enemy has persecuted my soul: he has brought down my life to the earth.
He has made me to dwell in darkness as those that have been dead of old: And my spirit is in anguish within me: my heart within me is troubled.
I remembered the days of old, I meditated on all your works: I meditated upon the works of your hands.
I stretched forth my hands to you: my soul is as earth without water unto you.
Hear me speedily, O Lord: my spirit has fainted away. Turn not away your face from me, lest I be like unto them that go down into the pit.
Cause me to hear your mercy in the morning; for in you have I hoped. Make the way known to me, wherein I should walk: for I have lifted up my soul to you. Deliver me from my enemies, O Lord, to you have I fled: Teach me to do your will, for you are my God.
Your good spirit shall lead me into the right land: For your name's sake, O Lord, you will quicken me in your justice.
You will bring my soul out of trouble: And in your mercy you will destroy my enemies.
And you will cut off all them that afflict my soul: for I am your servant.
Tenebrae of Good Friday
Nocturn I: Psalms 2, 21, 26
Nocturn II: Psalms 37, 39, 53*
Nocturn III: Psalms 58, 87*, 93
Lauds: 50*, 142, 84, [Hab], 147