Sunday, 10 November 2013

Latin prayer of the week: Laudate Dominum

I suggested a few weeks back in this series, that it was a good idea to have a few psalms memorized as part of your personal arsenal of prayers.  So today I thought I would suggest the easiest route to achieving this, viz learning the shortest psalm in the psalter, Psalm 116!

Psalm 116 (117) is very short - but it also packs a punch, getting across some important messages, and making it a useful psalm to be able to say at appropriate moments.

The text

Laudáte Dóminum, omnes Gentes: * laudáte eum, omnes pópuli :
Quóniam confirmáta est super nos misericórdia ejus: * et véritas Dómini manet in ætérnum.

The Knox translation of it is:

Praise the Lord, all you Gentiles, let all the nations of the world do him honour.
Abundant has his mercy been towards us; the Lord remains faithful to his word for ever.

Looking at the Latin

Here is a word by word literal translation of it:

Laudáte (praise) dóminum (the Lord), omnes (all) gentes (peoples): * laudáte (praise) eum (Him), omnes (all) pópuli (peoples)
Quóniam (for) confirmáta est (it is confirmed/established) super (upon/over) nos (us) misericórdia (mercy) ejus (his): * et (and) véritas (the truth) dómini (of the Lord) manet (it remains/endures) in ætérnum (forever)

The priority of worship

Why is this psalm so important for us?  

Firstly because it exhorts us to our primary duty of worshipping God.  St Robert Bellarmine commented on it that:

He addresses the whole Church and exhorts it to praise God.  “All ye nations” is directed to the converted Gentiles, who are named first by reason of their being in the majority, and the people nearer those of the Jews who had been converted to the faith; and the apostles themselves, in alluding to a similar expression in the second Psalms, “Why have the Gentiles raged, and the people meditated vain things," apply the former to the Gentiles, and the latter to the Jews.

Secondly, it brings us back, once more, to our response to the salvation offered through the Incarnation and Christ's public ministry, as St Benedict's contemporary Cassiodorus points out:

The reason is given why the Lord must be praised throughout the world: it is because He has fulfilled His promises made through the holy prophets by His coming to us. His mercy towards the Christian people is confirmed and will not be moved for ever, for He who granted it, as we justly believe, protects us with His pity. He added: And the truth of the Lord remaineth for ever. The truth of the Lord here means the Son; as He Himself says: I am the way, the truth and the life? 

3 comments:

Joshua said...

And of course this is the one psalm known to most of the laity in Latin, since it is usually sung at the end of Benediction, when the Blessed Sacrament is returned to the tabernacle.

BTW, please join us in Tasmania in giving thanks to God that our new Archbishop is perfectly happy for us to have the Latin Mass more often: Laudate Dominum indeed!

Antonia Romanesca said...

So sublime, thanks so much Kate. What a superb vibrato and I loved the way she gave little eyebrow raises at the end - so distinctive!

Antonia Romanesca said...

Wonderful news from Tazzie, Joshua. Deo Gratias!