The Third Nocturn of Tenebrae for Holy Saturday is entirely composed of psalms we have already looked at earlier in this series (viz Psalms 53, 75 and 87), so today we move onto the Lauds section of Tenebrae for Holy Saturday.
The first of the Lauds psalms (after Psalm 50), is Psalm 91, and it is a rather upbeat hymn that points to the coming Resurrection.
It is an obvious pick for Holy Saturday since its title suggests that in the Jewish tradition it was said on the Sabbath (ie Saturday), and indeed the Old Roman Office (ie pre-1911) retained that position for it.
In this psalm, I think we are called on to contemplate the deep mystery of God’s plan (vs 5). The fool, the psalmist states in verse 6, fails to understand: to him, St Paul points out, the Cross is a scandal.
Yet the Cross enables all of us to be reconciled to God through Christ. Indeed, the Fathers interpreted verse 10, talking about the exaltation of the horn of the unicorn, as a direct reference to Christ’s crucifixion and resurrection. Horned animals were sacrificed to God, as Our Lord became the Lamb of God on the Cross.
Bonum est confiteri Domino, et psallere nomini tuo, Altissime:
ad annuntiandum mane misericordiam tuam, et veritatem tuam per noctem,
in decachordo, psalterio; cum cantico, in cithara.
Quia delectasti me, Domine, in factura tua; et in operibus manuum tuarum exsultabo.
Quam magnificata sunt opera tua, Domine! nimis profundæ factæ sunt cogitationes tuæ.
Vir insipiens non cognoscet, et stultus non intelliget hæc.
Cum exorti fuerint peccatores sicut fœnum, et apparuerint omnes qui operantur iniquitatem,
ut intereant in sæculum sæculi: tu autem Altissimus in æternum, Domine.
Quoniam ecce inimici tui, Domine, quoniam ecce inimici tui peribunt; et dispergentur omnes qui operantur iniquitatem.
Et exaltabitur sicut unicornis cornu meum, et senectus mea in misericordia uberi.
Et despexit oculus meus inimicos meos, et in insurgentibus in me malignantibus audiet auris mea. Justus ut palma florebit; sicut cedrus Libani multiplicabitur.
Plantati in domo Domini, in atriis domus Dei nostri florebunt.
Adhuc multiplicabuntur in senecta uberi, et bene patientes erunt: ut annuntient
quoniam rectus Dominus Deus noster, et non est iniquitas in eo.
It is good to give praise to the Lord: and to sing to your name, O most High.
To show forth your mercy in the morning, and your truth in the night:
Upon an instrument of ten strings, upon the psaltery: with a canticle upon the harp.
For you have given me, O Lord, a delight in your doings: and in the works of your hands I shall rejoice. O Lord, how great are your works! your thoughts are exceeding deep.
The senseless man shall not know: nor will the fool understand these things.
When the wicked shall spring up as grass: and all the workers of iniquity shall appear: That they may perish for ever and ever:
But you, O Lord, are most high for evermore.
For behold your enemies, O lord, for behold your enemies shall perish: and all the workers of iniquity shall be scattered.
But my horn shall be exalted like that of the unicorn: and my old age in plentiful mercy.
My eye also has looked down upon my enemies: and my ear shall hear of the downfall of the malignant that rise up against me.
The just shall flourish like the palm tree: he shall grow up like the cedar of Libanus.
They that are planted in the house of the Lord shall flourish in the courts of the house of our God. They shall still increase in a fruitful old age: and shall be well treated, that they may show
That the Lord our God is righteous, and there is no iniquity in him.
Tenebrae of Holy Saturday
Nocturn I: Psalms 4, 14, 15
Nocturn II: Psalms 23, 26, 29
Nocturn III: Psalms 53*, 75*, 87*
Lauds: 50*, 91, 63, [Is 38], 150