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Title: The Christian Use of the Psalter
Author: Whitham, Arthur Richard, 1863-1930
Language: English
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The English Churchman's Library




  _Principal of Culham Training College, and formerly
  Vice-Principal of Cuddesdan College_

  Impleta sunt quæ concinit
  David fidelis carmine


LONDON: 34 Great Castle Street, Oxford Circus, W.

OXFORD: 9 High Street



_One Shilling each net_

The Mysteries of Grace.  By T. A. Lacey, Chaplain of the House of
Mercy, Highgate.

Letters to a Godson.  First Series.  By Cyril Bickersteth, Priest of
the Community of the Resurrection, Mirfield.

First Studies In S. Mark.  By G. M. Ireland Blackburne.

Spiritual Counsels to District Visitors and others.  By the late George
Howard Wilkinson, D.D., Bishop of S. Andrews: Primus.

The Christian Use of the Psalter.  By A. R. Whitham, M.A., Principal of
Culham Training College.

Our Working Girls and How to help them.  By Flora L. Freeman, Author of
"Sunshine of Everyday Life."

Letters to a Godson.  Second Series.  By Cyril Bickersteth, M.A.

The Practical Religion.  By Vernon Staley, Provost of Inverness

_Others in preparation._

  LONDON: 34, Great Castle Street, W.
  OXFORD: 9, High Street



This little book, based on three Lectures delivered to the S. Paul's
Lecture Society in January, 1908, is not intended so much for the
scholar as for the plain man who goes to Church and loves the Prayer
Book, but finds the Psalms sometimes puzzling.  They are certainly the
most difficult, though the most characteristic, part of the daily
offices of the Church.  What has been attempted in these Lectures is
not to explain them in detail, but to suggest the broad lines of
interpretation which seem always to have been in the mind of the Church
in her use of the Psalter.  A few additional helps have been suggested
in the Notes.

CULHAM, 1908.




PREFACE  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .      v


  PART I.--GENERAL PRINCIPLES  . . . . . . . . . . . . .      1
  PART II.--DIFFICULTIES . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .     22


CHRIST IN THE PSALTER . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .    43


THE CHURCH IN THE PSALTER  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   73

NOTES  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  101



INDEX OF PSALMS REFERRED TO  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  142


The Christian Use of the Psalter



  Haereditate acquisivi testimonia tua in aeternum:
  Quia exsultatio cordis mei sunt.

The Christian use of the Psalter is as old as Christianity itself.  The
new-born Catholic Church, returning from her earliest conflict with the
kingdoms of this world, found the most natural expression of her faith
and her need in the words of the 2nd Psalm:

  Why did the Gentiles rage,
  And the peoples imagine vain things?
  The kings of the earth set themselves in array,
  And the rulers were gathered together,
  Against the Lord, and against His Anointed.
          (Acts iv. 25, 26, R.V.)


Before this, on the very birthday of the Church, the chief of the
Apostles had appealed to the witness of "David," for the Resurrection
and Triumph of the Holy One (Pss. xvi., cx. in Acts ii. 25-8, 34, 35).
And even earlier, during the ten days of waiting, the great Psalms of
righteous wrath (thought so impossible by many to-day) had supplied the
prophecy of the fall of Judas:

  Let his habitation be made desolate,
  And let no man dwell therein;

and the justification of the election of Matthias:

  His office let another take.
          (Pss. lxix. and cix. in Acts i. 20.)

So harmoniously did the praise-book of the Jewish Church pass into the
service of Christ; so clearly did the first believers recognise that
the Spirit of Christ was the same Who had spoken by "David."  This
immediate appropriation of the Psalter as a book of Christian witness
is remarkable evidence to the felt unity and continuity of the two
Covenants.  No book of the Old Testament, with the exception of Isaiah,
is so frequently quoted in the New as the book of Psalms.

But still more remarkable is the influence of the Psalter on Christian
_worship_.  The Church {3} exists in the world not only as the
teaching, but also as the worshipping community.  As the ages pass she
ceases not to bear the witness of her praise and thanksgiving to the
Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost.  From the beginning she showed a
tendency to do this in ordered and liturgical forms.  The Apostolic
Church continued steadfast in "the prayers" (Acts ii. 42, R.V.).  The
expression implies not merely a daily gathering for worship, but the
offering of that worship in a fixed and orderly manner, suggested, no
doubt, by the existing Jewish services.  Whatever may have been the
actual form of "the prayers" in the first age of the Church, or
whatever stages they may have passed through, there can be no doubt
that they are the germ of all the rich later developments of the
liturgy of the Church, such as are represented in the Middle Ages by
the Missal and the Breviary, and to-day by our own Book of Common

The regular services of the Church fall naturally into two classes.
The Eucharist, the service of the Altar, took the place of the
sacrificial worship of the Temple.  The Divine Office, the service of
the Choir, may have been suggested by the services of the Synagogue.
But if so, there is one most significant difference.  {4} The Christian
Church made a much fuller public use of the Psalms than the Synagogue
ever seems to have done.[1]  The Psalms in the Jewish Church seem to
have been adjuncts or embellishments of the service, rather than its
central feature.  The Divine Office of the Christian Church practically
is the Psalter.  The readings from other parts of Scripture, so
prominent in the Synagogue service, fall now into a secondary place.
The recitation of the Psalms, which appears from very early times as
the characteristic Christian devotion, became the very centre and core
of the sevenfold daily Choir Office of the mediæval Church.  The whole
Psalter in theory was said through once a week, mainly at Mattins (the
midnight office), while selected Psalms formed the chief part of the
subsequent services of the day.[2]  The English Reformers, however
hastily and trenchantly they may have cut down and simplified these
services of the Breviary, showed the true Catholic instinct in this at
least, that they provided as the leading feature of Morning and Evening
Prayer an unbroken and systematic recitation of the Psalms.  In this
respect their claim was justified that they had provided an {5} order
"much agreeable to the mind and purpose of the old Fathers."[3]  It was
a return from mediæval complications to a more primitive ideal.

What, then, was this book of praise and worship which the Catholic
Church found ready to hand, and made unhesitatingly her own, and which
has set the standard and provided the chief material for her continual
voice in the ear of God?  The Psalter, as we know it now, had been for
some time before Christ the recognised praise-book of Israel.  Its
Hebrew name is simple and significant--_Tehillim_, "praises."  Its
historical origins and growth are still indeed wrapt in obscurity, and
to discuss them would be alien from our present purpose.  Suffice it to
say that there seems no conclusive reason for discrediting the
universal Jewish and Christian tradition that the Psalter begins at
least with David.  Some of the earlier and more personal psalms are
naturally felt to reflect his character and youthful struggles.  Nor is
it unreasonable to believe that the later historical books are
substantially correct in making him the founder {6} of the Temple choir
(1 Chron. xv.; Ezra iii. 10).  Doubtless the majority of the Psalms
belong to a later age, and their collection is due to the scrupulous
care and reverence of the period of Jewish history which begins with
Ezra.  The singers of the Temple after, perhaps even before, the
Captivity formed various collections of sacred lyrics, which passed
under characteristic names, some being entitled "Psalms of David"
(though not of necessity all his work); others bearing the names of
ancient leaders of the Temple choir, like Asaph, or of the guilds of
singers, like "the sons of Korah."  Another collection with a distinct
individuality would be the "songs of degrees" or "ascents"
(cxx.-cxxxii.), the pilgrim-songs of the faithful Israelites as they
journeyed from their homes to keep the annual feasts at Jerusalem.  At
some unknown time these different collections, or selections from them,
must have been brought together into one.  Many scholars consider that
the compilation cannot have been complete before the age of the
Maccabees, as more than one Psalm is thought to refer to the agonies of
faithful Israel during that great national crisis (e.g. Pss. xliv.,
lxxiv., lxxix., lxxx.).  But it must have been substantially complete
by the time that the Septuagint translation was made (in the second
century {7} B.C.); and so ancient then were the titles of the Psalms in
the Hebrew that these Alexandrine scholars seem to have been frequently
puzzled by them.

This collection of 150 Psalms, whenever precisely it may have been
made, was divided into five books, each ending with an outburst of
praise to the God of Israel.[4]  The key to this somewhat artificial
arrangement is no doubt to be found in the desire to make the Psalter
correspond with the Pentateuch.  "Moses," says a Rabbinical commentator
(Midrash _Tillim_), "gave five-fifths of the Law, and correspondingly
David gave the book of _Tehillim_, in which are five books."  Of this
Dr. Cheyne says, "The remark is a suggestive one: it seems to mean
this--that the praise-book is the answer of the worshipping community
to the demands made by its Lord in the Law, the reflexion of the
external standard of faith and obedience in the utterance of the
believing heart."  This criticism is so illuminating that it may well
suggest the first great principle in our own Christian use of the

I.  The Psalter is the inspired answer of praise which human faith is
privileged to make to {8} God's revelation.  It is the "new song" put
in the mouth of humanity by its Creator.  "Thou preparest their heart,
and Thine ear hearkeneth thereto" (Ps. x. 19).

This is surely a very great thought.  The Old Testament is the record
of God's gradual unveiling of Himself to His elect, whom for the
world's sake He had chosen out of the world.  The revelation was not
indeed to them alone.  God had spoken in many ways, more than even the
Church yet recognises, to the heathen world.  Yet to Israel God gave
that highest privilege of receiving and keeping the true knowledge of
Himself, of His unity, His universality, His moral being, His holiness,
His love, and of the demand which this knowledge makes on human
conscience.  The unknown author of 2 Esdras, looking back on history
after the great blow had fallen on Jerusalem, has expressed this in
vivid and pathetic language: "Of all the flowers of the world Thou hast
chosen Thee one lily: and of all the depths of the sea Thou hast filled
Thee one river: and of all builded cities Thou hast hallowed Sion unto
Thyself: ... and among all the multitudes of peoples Thou hast gotten
Thee one people: and unto this people, whom Thou lovedst, Thou gavest a
law that is approved of all" (2 Esd. v. 24-7).  In the Psalter God {9}
has provided, as it were, for His people the words of praise in which
their thankful hearts may express their love and loyalty to what He has

This feature, the glad response to revelation, is stamped upon the
Psalter from end to end.  Thus the 1st Psalm describes the secret of
human blessedness:

  His delight is in the law of the Lord:
  And in His law will he exercise himself day and night.

The 9th Psalm is an outburst of thanksgiving to "the Name" of God, Who
is revealed as the moral Governor of the world.  The 19th couples the
self-revelation of God in nature, God Whose glory the heavens declare,
with the revelation given in the Law, which is, as it were, the sun in
the moral world restoring the soul and enlightening the eyes.  The 25th
reads like a comment from man's heart on the great proclamation of
God's Name given to Moses in the "cleft of the rock"--"The Lord, the
Lord, a God full of compassion, and gracious, slow to anger, and
plenteous in mercy and truth" (Ex. xxxiii. 19, xxxiv. 5-7).  So the
Psalmist prays, as it were, in answer:


  Call to remembrance, O Lord, Thy tender mercies:
  And Thy loving-kindnesses, which have been ever of old.
  O remember not the sins and offences of my youth:
  But according to Thy mercy think Thou upon me, O Lord,
      for Thy goodness.

The 40th offers the response of a converted will to what is found and
recognised in the Law:

  In the roll of the book it is written of me:
  I delight to do Thy will, O my God.

The 78th recounts the long history of rebellious Israel as in itself
part of the "testimony" of God.  The mingled record of deliverance and
failure, of judgment and hope, is in itself "a parable," a "dark saying
of old," which faith can read and make answer to.  The 131st expresses
the very fundamental spirit of faith, the essential temper and attitude
of the Church, the spirit of humility, of intellectual submission, of
obedience, which is the same under the Gospel Dispensation as under the
Old Covenant.


  Lord, I am not high-minded:
  I have no proud looks.
  I do not exercise myself in great matters:
  Which are too high for me.

But the most remarkable illustration of this characteristic attitude of
the believer is the 119th Psalm.  It is like a piece of music, every
verse a subtle and harmonious variation on one dominant theme.  It is
the voice of the converted soul, learning the one lesson which man must
learn in this world's school, if he is to attain his true
being--learning to be ever turning away from self, from one's own
doubts, troubles, persecutions, sufferings, to rest on what God has
revealed in His statutes, His judgments, His testimonies, His laws.
Nor is it without a subtle propriety that this Psalm is arranged as an
acrostic under the twenty-two letters of the Hebrew alphabet.  These
letters are, as it were, the rudiments out of which man is enabled to
exercise his characteristic gift of articulate speech; and in the
acrostic Psalms they are visibly consecrated to His service Who made
the mouth of man.  And each part of the 119th Psalm consists of eight
verses, a significant Hebrew number, the symbol of the {12}
Resurrection and the restoration of all things in that eighth day, the
octave of eternity, which is yet to come, and will complete the work of
the seven days of the first creation.

This Psalm, which expresses the unchanging spirit of true religion, was
most naturally appropriated by Christian devotion to form the services
for the working part of each day, beginning at Prime, when "man goeth
forth to his work and his labour" with that benediction which comes on
labour done with a pure motive in God's Name:

  Blessed are those that are undefiled in the way:
  And walk in the law of the Lord,

and ending at None, the hour of the death of the Lord, when day visibly
declines, with the confession that the worker, as he looks back, must
always make:

  I have gone astray like a sheep that is lost:
  O seek Thy servant, for I do not forget Thy commandments.

It was like a stream of water, crossing unexpectedly a dusty
way--_mirabilia testimonia tua_!  In psalm and antiphon, inexhaustibly
fresh, the soul seemed to be taking refuge, at that undevout {13} hour,
from the sordid languor and the mean business of men's lives, in
contemplation of the unfaltering vigour of the Divine righteousness,
which had still those who sought it, not only watchful in the night,
but alert in the drowsy afternoon.[5]

We can scarcely exaggerate the value, in our own time especially, of
this use, not only of the 119th Psalm, but of the whole Psalter, as the
response of the Church and the human soul to the revealed word of God.
These times of Christ have indeed filled and enriched the early
conception of "the Name" of God.  We have learned to see in the Trinity
the justification of belief in the Divine Unity; we have learned more
of the Fatherhood of God in the face of His only Son; we have learned
that the Cross is the key to human suffering; we have learned the
Catholic nature of the Divine sovereignty: nevertheless the foundation
teaching of the Psalmists as to the relation of the creature to his
Creator remains unchanged.  We still find in the Psalter a guide for
our uncertain footsteps in our journey back to God.  Is not the answer
to every problem of faith, even such mysteries as the existence and
continuance of evil, or the calamities that fall on the just, {14}
still to be found as the author of the 73rd Psalm found it, in
returning and rest upon the God Who has made _Himself_ known to
suffering man?

  My flesh and my heart faileth:
  But God is the strength of my heart and my portion for ever.

The prevailing thought of the 119th Psalm, that God's revelation is
fixed and permanent and the law of human life, marks the great
separation between the world and the Church.  Such a belief is
abhorrent and distasteful always to the natural mind, while it is
familiar to and welcomed by the Catholic Church, as it was by the
Jewish.  The Church's witness to the world is of a revelation from
above: she has _received_ it; she may not alter it without apostasy.
Her mission in the world is not to be the mirror of each succeeding
phase of human thought, nor merely the consecration of human
aspirations, but rather to speak with a supernatural authority, to tell
men what God is and what is His will, "whether they will hear, or
whether they will forbear."  And the Church can only deliver her
message aright, in the face of the frowns of the princes of this world,
so long as worship gladdens and confirms her {15} witness, so long as
she herself finds her joy in contemplating her treasure and returning
thanks for it to the Giver.

As the devout Israelite found in the Psalter the natural expression of
an intelligent devotion to the God Who had revealed Himself in Law and
Prophets, so the Christian Church, with no break of continuity, found
the Psalter still adequate to express her joy in her fuller knowledge.
For that fuller knowledge was strictly in line with the old.  The faith
of Israel had not been changed, but carried forward, developed,
illuminated.  In the Law the Gospel lay hid, and the Christian Church
felt in the old words of devotion no outworn or alien accents, but
living utterances of the Spirit of Life, which renewed their youth with
hers.  So from the beginning she found strength and comfort in her
warfare for the truth, in the praises of Israel.  From the beginning
she based her ordered worship on the services of Temple and Synagogue.
The choirs of the Catholic Church find their most lasting and
characteristic voice not in hymn or anthem, but in--

        "The chorus intoned
  As the Levites go up to the altar in glory enthroned."


II.  A second great principle of the Christian use of the Psalter will
be found in its humanism.  The Psalms are profoundly human.  They
sympathise with the soul of man in all his varied efforts after God.
They find a voice for him in his battles for truth and right, in his
moments of defeat as well as his victories, in his doubts no less than
his certainties.  They put words into his mouth as he contemplates the
variety, the beauty, and the law of nature, or the injustice, the
obstinacy, the treachery of men.  The Psalms make his bed in his
sickness; they strengthen him in the inward agonies of faith; they go
with him to the gates of death, and farther still, even to God's "holy
hill and His dwelling"; they point him to the eternal morning, when he
will wake up and be satisfied with God's likeness (_cf._ Pss. civ., x.,
xli., lxxvii., lxxxviii., xliii., xvii.).

We have all no doubt felt something of this abiding sympathy of the
Psalter.  Dean Church expressed it very remarkably in a letter written
by him shortly before his death:

The thought of what is to take the place of things here is with me all
day long, but it is with a strange mixture of reality and unreality,
and I wish it did me all the good it might.  Books are not
satisfactory--at least, I have always found it {17} so.  It seems to me
that there is nothing equal to letting the Psalms fall on one's ears,
till at last a verse starts into meaning, which it is sure to do in the
end (_Life and Letters_, p. 409, ed. 1897).

The Psalter has in this way endeared itself to many generations of
struggling and dying men, and appealed even to many who were alien from
its spirit.  It has interwoven itself with striking scenes and moments
of history, as when Hildebrand chanted "He that dwelleth in heaven
shall laugh them to scorn" (ii.) before the encircling hosts of emperor
and anti-pope; or when S. Athanasius, on that night of fear when the
imperial soldiers had blockaded the doors of the church, and the fate
of the faith of Nicæa seemed to hang in the balance, bade the deacon
intone that Psalm which tells of God smiting great kings, "for His
mercy endureth for ever" (cxxxvi.); or when Henry V. turned his face to
the wall and died, confessing that his ideal was unfulfilled, and that
God, and not he, must "build the walls of Jerusalem" (li.).

This humanism of the Psalter makes it pre-eminently a Christian
possession, for Christianity is human through and through.  It is the
religion of "the soul which is by nature Christian."  It redeems and
consecrates, as no other religion could ever dare to do, all the
fulness of man's being.  {18} And why?  Here we touch the innermost
secret of the Psalter.  It is the book of the Incarnation.  "The Word
was made flesh, and dwelt among us."  God Himself has taken to Himself
a human soul and spirit as well as a human body.  And the Incarnate
Word found on earth the voice of His communing with the Father, as the
faithful of His own adopted nation did, in the words of the Psalms.
These words rise naturally to His lips in the supreme agony on the
Cross; they must have provided His prayers and thanksgivings, we may
reverently imagine, not only in the public services which He attended,
but in His home at Nazareth, and in His lonely vigils of prayer.  He
gathered together in Himself all the human experiences of the past
which are reflected in the Psalter.  Hence the Psalter is also the
characteristic voice of His Church, that Church which was founded by
Him, and is united to Him, and is the assembly of the first-born of
humanity calling Him "Lord" and Mary "Mother."

The consideration of these great truths will be reserved for subsequent
lectures; but it would be impossible to speak of general principles in
our Christian use of the Psalter without pointing out on the very
threshold its indissoluble connection, historically and doctrinally,
with the {19} "Author and Finisher of our faith," and with His Church
"the household of faith."

III.  Once again, the Psalter is appropriate for Christian use because
it is the book of Hope.  The world estranged from God is without hope.
The heathen looked back to a golden age; Virgil stands almost alone in
his dream of its possible return.[6]  The Israel of God is the
fellowship of the future.  It feels itself in harmony with an
increasing purpose of God.  The great revelation to Moses of the Name
of God, "I will be that I will be" (Ex. iii. 14, R.V. marg.), left its
mark on all subsequent history.  So the Old Testament writers, under
every imaginable difficulty and persecution and reverse, among the
treacheries of friends, as well as the attacks of a hostile heathen
world, are ever straining forward to a coming of God and a Kingdom of
God.  Like the spirits in Virgil's vision:

  Stabant orantes primi transmittere cursum,
  Tendebantque manus ripæ ulterioris amore.[7]


The Psalms throughout delight in this attitude.  The most casual reader
is struck by the constancy with which an outlook of hope and joy
succeeds to the sorrow and stress of the opening verses of Psalm after
Psalm.  Even the darkest have their gleams of promise.  And so the
Christian Church, having learned what the hope of Israel meant, found
the Psalms come naturally to her lips.  She could sing with fuller
meaning of the rising up again of the righteous (xli.), of the
deliverances from the stormy waters and from the wandering out of the
way in the wilderness (cvii.), of the bringing up of the sufferer "from
the deep of the earth again" (lxxi.).  The Psalter was and is to the
Christian not merely the reflection of his characteristic sorrows and
trials, but the book of the Resurrection, of the restitution of all
things, of the doing away of the imperfect and the coming of the

  Thou shalt shew me the path of life; in Thy presence
      is the fulness of joy:
  And at Thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore.
          (xvi. 12.)

Thus the Psalter is ours, for it is the new song of gratitude to Him
Who has given us the {21} Catholic Faith; it is ours because it is the
book of Him Who has redeemed us by making Himself one with us, and
"taking the manhood into God"; it is ours because it has not merely the
human consecration of ages of Christian use, but it is the channel
which the Holy Spirit, Who dwells in the Church, seems deliberately to
have chosen in which to make His ineffable intercession for the sons of
God who wait for their adoption, "the redemption of the body" (Rom.
viii. 19-27).  Appreciation of the Psalter grows with the devout use of
it.  The obligation to recite it month by month in the daily office is
one of the best gifts the Church has given to her priests; and both
priest and laity alike will find increasingly that the Psalms need no
apology.  They are the noblest and most comprehensive form of public
worship; they are the most truly satisfying book of private devotion.

[1] Note A, p. 101.

[2] Note B, p. 102.

[3] "Concerning the Service of the Church," the original Preface to the
Prayer Book.

[4] xli. 13, lxxii. 18-19, lxxxix. 50, cvi. 46, cl.

[5] Walter Pater, _Gaston de Latour_.

[6] Virgil, _eclogue_ iv.

[7] Virgil, _Aeneid_, vi. 313, 314 (_cf._ Heb. xi. 13):

    Praying, they stood with hands of love outspread,
    If but that farther shore each might be first to tread.



  Servus tuus sum ego:
  Da mihi intellectum ut sciam testimonia tua.

Besides general principles, we are also to consider some of the general
difficulties in the use of the Psalter as a Christian book.  The Psalms
are certainly not easy.  Nothing as great as they are ever could be
easy.  None of the books of the Bible yield their secret except to
labour and prayer, and the Psalms present special difficulties of their
own.  These are of various kinds and need various methods of approach.
There is a difficulty inherent in the very origin and history of the
Psalms.  They are translated somewhat imperfectly from an ancient
language, not akin to our own--a language which, if not difficult in
itself, is rendered so by the comparative scantiness of its literature.
The Psalms, humanly speaking, are the work of a race widely different
from ourselves in habits and in modes of thought and expression.  They
contain allusions to events and circumstances imperfectly known or
realised to-day.  Most of our interpretation of these things is
necessarily guess-work.  The same Psalm may be ascribed {23} with equal
probability, by scholars of equal learning and reverence, to periods
many centuries apart.  Was the sufferer of Ps. xxii. David or Jeremiah,
or is it altogether an ideal portrait?  Was the coming of the heathen
into God's inheritance of Ps. lxxix. that of the Babylonians in the
sixth century B.C. or of the soldiers of Antiochus in the second?  Who
was the "king's daughter" in Ps. xlv. and who "the daughter of Tyre"?
Is the Temple of the Psalms ever the first Temple, or is it always the
second?  Such problems still wait an answer.  Again, there are
difficulties inherent in Hebrew thought.  It is intensely concrete and
personal, in contrast with our more usual abstractions and
generalities.  The Psalmists speak habitually of "the wicked" and "the
ungodly," where we should more naturally speak of the qualities rather
than the persons.  They ignore, as a rule, immediate or secondary
causes, and ascribe everything in nature or human affairs to the direct
action or intervention of God.  Thus a thunder-storm is described:

  There went a smoke out in His presence:
  And a consuming fire out of His mouth,
      so that coals were kindled at it.
            (xviii. 8.)


And thus a national calamity:

  Thou hast shewed Thy people heavy things:
  Thou hast given us a drink of deadly wine.
          (lx. 3.)

Such ways of describing God's work in Nature or His providence are
partly, of course, due to the fact (often overlooked by the
half-educated) that the Psalms are poetry and not prose.  For the same
reason inanimate objects are personified: "the earth trembled at the
look of Him," "the mountains skipped like lambs"; the mythical
"Leviathan" appears both as a title of Egypt (lxxiv. 15) and as an
actual monster of the deep (civ. 26).  God Himself, again, is spoken of
in language that might seem more appropriate to man.  He is "provoked,"
and "tempted."  He awakes "like a giant refreshed with wine."  He is
called upon, not to sleep nor to forget, to avenge, to "bow the heavens
and come down."

Nor do the Psalms in their literal meaning rise always above the
current and imperfect religious conceptions of their time.  The moral
difficulties involved in this will be considered a little later, but it
may be interesting to point out here some examples which bear on {25}
the progressiveness of revelation in the Old Testament by which heathen
ideas became, under God's guidance, "stepping-stones to higher things."
The Psalms seem sometimes to speak as if "the gods of the heathen"
really existed and were in some way rivals of the God of Israel,
universal and supreme though He is acknowledged to be.  They are spoken
of as "devils" as well as idols.  They are called upon to "worship Him"
(_cf._ cvi. 36, xcvii. 7, 9, cxxxviii. i).

Again, the Psalmists' horizon is, for the most part, limited to this
present life, which is regarded as if it were the chief, almost the
only, scene in which moral retribution would be worked out.  And
occasionally there appears the primitive Hebrew idea of the after-world
as the vague and gloomy Sheol, like the shadowy Hades of Homer, where
the dead "go down into silence," where, instead of purpose and
progress, there is but a dawnless twilight, the land "without any
order" of Job (xlix., lxxxviii., cxv. 17).

And yet the more one studies and uses the Psalms in the light of other
Scriptures and the Church's interpretation, the more it is found that
these partial, at first sight erroneous, conceptions have still their
practical value for Christians.  There is nothing in them that is {26}
positively false, and they suggest, on the other hand, aspects of truth
which we tend to forget.  Thus in the instances given above, by "the
gods of the heathen" the Christian may well be reminded of the
continued existence and influence in the heathen world of the powers of
evil, of the malignant warfare that is still being waged by
"principalities and powers" against light and truth.  The ancient
conception of the shadowy abode of the dead has also its value.  Even
the Lord Himself could speak of the night coming "when no man can work"
(John ix. 4), and such Psalms as the 49th and the 115th may serve to
remind us that this life is a time of work and probation in a sense
that the life after death is not, that the grave cannot reverse the
line that has been followed here nor put praises in the mouth of those
who have never praised God "secretly or in the congregation" in this
world.  And again, the "present-worldliness" of the Psalter may well
point the duty of Christians in respect of what they see and know
around them here.  Many are content, while repeating pious phrases
about heaven, to ignore the fact that this present human life is the
great sphere of Christian activity, and that whether the Church is able
to regenerate human society here or {27} not, it is her business to try
to do it, as fellow-workers with Him--

  Who helpeth them to right that suffer wrong:
  Who feedeth the hungry.
          (cxlvi. 6.)

Have we not a remarkable witness to the continuity of the Holy Spirit's
teaching, and to the fact that not "one jot or one tittle" of the law
is to remain unfulfilled, in the way that these apparent imperfections
and limitations of the Psalter fall into their place in connection with
the later revelation?

Another obvious difficulty of the Psalter lies in the frequent
obscurity of connection between verse and verse, in the rapid
transitions, in the uncertainty as to the sequence of thought, or the
meaning of the Psalm as a whole.  This difficulty, as it bears upon the
liturgical use of the Psalms, has been increased by the abolition of
the _antiphons_, which in the pre-Reformation offices certainly helped
at times to suggest a leading thought, or to guide the worshipper as to
the Church's intention in the recitation of this or that Psalm.  (Note
C, p. 104.)  Sometimes indeed, the connection between the verses of a
Psalm is really very slight, more a matter {28} of suggestion or
association than of logic.  Such is the case in "proverbial" Psalms,
like the 33rd, 34th, and 37th, or the 119th.  But in others it is well
worth the effort to gain a continuous view of the Psalm as a whole.  A
simple commentary will give this, or even sometimes the R.V. alone, or
the headings in the A.V., such as the very suggestive one prefixed to
the 110th: "1 The kingdom, 4 the priesthood, 5 the conquest, 7 and the
passion of Christ." (Note D, p. 106.)

There are also difficulties caused by a real obscurity in the Hebrew,
or by mistranslations.  Here, again, a comparison with the R.V. is of
great value.  The meaning of the 87th springs to light at once when we
read "This one was born there," instead of the mysterious "Lo, there
was he born," etc.  The Psalm refers not to the birth of the Messiah,
but to the new birth of individuals out of the heathen races who thus
become citizens of Sion.  "So let indignation vex him, even as a thing
that is raw" (lviii. 8), becomes certainly more intelligible as "He
shall take them away with a whirlwind, the green and the burning alike"
(a metaphor from a traveller's fire of brushwood, blown away by a
sudden wind); and even if "the beasts of the people" remains still
obscure in Ps. lxviii. in the revised {29} translation, its "why hop ye
so, ye high hills?" is more significant when it is read--

  Why look ye askance, ye high mountains:
  At the mountain which God hath desired for His abode?

Sometimes the alteration of a single word makes the difference between
obscurity and sense, as in xlix. 5, where "the wickedness of my heels"
becomes intelligible as "iniquity at my heels"; or in Ps. xlii., where
"Therefore will I remember thee concerning the land of Judah and the
little hill of Hermon" is made clear at once by the substitution of
"from" for "concerning."  The verse is the cry of the exile, who, far
away in northern Palestine, among the sources of the Jordan, yearns for
the Temple and its services, which he is no longer able to visit.

Doubtless the reasons which prevented the older version of the Psalms
being changed in the Prayer Book in the seventeenth century, when other
passages of Scripture were revised, still hold good.  Neither A.V. nor
R.V. are so well adapted for music, nor have they endeared themselves
to the worshipper by daily use.  Those who have time and opportunity
may {30} discover for themselves more exact meanings or clear up
difficulties by private study.  But even those who have not may find
that there are better uses of the Psalter than a merely intellectual
grasp of its meaning.  Possibly an occasional obscurity may even have a
humbling or awe-inspiring effect on the mind.  The strange version of
the Vulgate of Ps. lxxi. 14, though incorrect, is not without its point:

  Quoniam non cognovi litteraturam,
  introibo in potentias Domini.[1]

Learning by itself can never lift the soul on the wings of devotion and
worship.  The unlearned, Christ's "little ones," have in every age
found a voice that spoke to them in the liturgy of the Catholic Church,
even though its accents were inarticulate, and its message music rather
than words.  Such considerations may prevent us distressing ourselves
because something, perhaps much, in the Church's book of praise is
unintelligible and must remain so.

Two practical suggestions may be offered here to those who find
themselves hindered in devotion by the difficulties of the Psalter, by
its rapid transitions, or its constantly varying tone.  The leading
purpose of the Psalter in {31} the Church's use is expressed in its
Hebrew title, _Tehillim_, "praises."  "We shall do well," says Dr.
Cheyne, "to accustom ourselves to the intelligent use of this title,
and to look out in every psalm for an element of praise."  It is good
to allow this thought to dominate our mind while the Psalms are being
read or sung in the Church's service.  For this and for that our
fathers in the Faith thanked God; for what He had revealed, or promised
or done.  And He is the same, He changes not.  Ever and anon as the
service proceeds, a verse will suggest some ground of thanksgiving for
ourselves or for the Church we love.  We need to keep our minds, like
our bodies, in the attitude of praise and aspiration, like that exiled
lover of his nation who wrote Ps. cvi.:

  Remember me, O Lord, according to the favour that Thou
      bearest unto Thy people:
  O visit me with Thy salvation;
  That I may see the felicity of Thy chosen:
  And rejoice in the gladness of Thy people,
  And give thanks with Thine inheritance.
            (cvi. 4, 5.)


Not only the attitude of praise should be cultivated, but also that of
sympathy.  This will be especially fruitful as we take upon our lips
these constantly recurring expressions of penitence, struggle, and
sorrow.  These are certain to be at times unreal to us, unless we can
remember that we recite them not merely for ourselves, but as part of
the Church's intercession for the world, in which it is our privilege
to take part.  Others are suffering under the burden of sin and grief,
others are overwhelmed with sorrow, racked with pain, harried by the
slanderer and the persecutor.  It is such as these that we remember
before God, as fellow-members of the one body.  And will not such a
remembrance, such sympathy, bring us very near to our blessed Lord's
own use of the Psalter in His days on earth, Who "Himself took our
infirmities and bore our sicknesses"?

Yet beyond all these difficulties of language, history, and modes of
thought, whether they yield to study or not, there are outstanding
_moral_ difficulties of the Psalter.  Some of the Psalms appear to be
inconsistent with the spirit of the Gospel, or even with the moral
sense of mankind, educated as it has been for so long in the
Gospel-school.  This objection seems at first {33} sight a more serious
difficulty than any of the others; but before it can be satisfactorily
dealt with, another and more fundamental question must be faced.  What
is the attitude, as a whole, of the objector to the revealed word of
God?  There are those to whom the Psalms seem to speak altogether in an
alien tongue, who find the recitation of them in the Church's service
"tedious" (a reason alleged recently as one of those which keep people
from attending church), to whom the 119th Psalm appears to be
"mechanical and monotonous," whose very expression in church proclaims
them "bored."  Such feelings may be only the result of ignorance, or
lack of effort, or inherited misconceptions.  Or the reason may lie
deeper.  The worship of the Catholic Church can only be understood by
those who are of the mind of the Church, who have learned to place
themselves in the believer's attitude towards God and His revelation.

However much the word "conversion" may have been abused, and turned
into a mere catchword or shibboleth, it is unquestionable that the
Christian religion demands a fundamental change of mind and attitude, a
change which does not come by education only, nor by any natural
process.  There is a hidden wisdom in the Church which to the natural
man is {34} "foolishness" (1 Cor. ii. 14); it can only be learned by
those who humbly set themselves to be taught by the Spirit.  This
change, come it suddenly or very slowly, must have its effect upon the
whole man, his intellect, as well as his heart and will.  "There is
nothing hid from the heat thereof."  Especially will it rule our
attitude towards Holy Scripture.  Without such a change neither
historical nor grammatical explanations can make the Scripture sweet or
even intelligible.  Not least will our comprehension of the Psalter be
influenced by it.  How impossible is it really to say, "Lord, what love
have I unto Thy law," if one has never realised that there is a law of
God, supreme and absolute, to be read in the Scriptures and in the
witness of the Church; and that only in obedience to this law can man
find his true self and "walk at liberty."  It is vain to seek to be
critics before we are disciples.  And the Psalter is clearly meant for
the initiated, not for him who merely follows the crowd.  The Divine
Office, which the Psalter fills and dominates, is the means whereby the
instructed faithful express their unchanging delight in, and loyalty
to, what they have received freely from God.  It is not the Church's
message to the unconverted world, nor the voice of man's natural
desires and sympathies, {35} undisciplined by grace.  The Catholic
temper, the mind of the Church, is an absolute first principle in the
right use of the Church's book of praise, and the key to its chief

Bearing this in mind, let us endeavour to face, in conclusion, this
moral difficulty of some parts of the Psalter--a difficulty which
undoubtedly causes pain and uncertainty to some who are really devout,
and which has led many to ask for a revised or expurgated Psalter for
the public services.  First, there is what appears to be the
self-righteousness of the Psalter.  Side by side with the most perfect
expressions of humility and penitence, there are found protestations of
innocence and purity which, if they were merely personal, we should
rightly hesitate to make our own.  But the "I" of the Psalter is not
merely personal; it is the collective voice of the Church, and of the
Church in her ideal aspect, such as we confess her in the Creed--"one,
holy, Catholic."  It is the voice of the great company of the holy
souls from the beginning of the world, on earth and beyond the veil.
It is with these that we recite our psalms, with these that we humbly
associate ourselves, it is their righteousness that we seek to make our
own, for it is the righteousness of Christ.

And if the "I" of the Psalter is the {36} self-expression of the
Communion of Saints, still more is it the voice of the King of Saints,
the immaculate Lamb, in whose Name we offer our worship.

But there is still the problem of the Psalms of Imprecation.  What can
we say of their apparent fierceness and vindictiveness, their
reflection of the stormy passions and bitter warfare of a primitive
age?  There is much indeed that can be rightly urged, here, as in the
other Old Testament writings, from the point of view of the difference
between Hebrew modes of expression and our own, and from the
progressive character of revelation, much that may help to remove
prejudice and clear away apparent inconsistencies.  But the larger view
of the Psalter as the book primarily of the Church is of still greater
importance.  The imprecations of the Psalms, though expressed in so
vividly personal a manner, are no more personal than the protestations
of innocency.  They express rather that age-long passion for
righteousness, that burning belief in a moral Judge of the world Who
must do right, which have always been the Church's saving salt among
the corruptions and indifference of the world.  It is this spirit that
inspires them, rather than the thirst for {37} vengeance or the
vindication of self.  They express the Church's belief that there is a
world-conflict ever proceeding between the cause of God, the cause of
truth and right, and the passions of men urged on by the powers of evil.

  For lo, Thine enemies make a murmuring:
  And they that hate Thee have lift up their head.
  They have imagined craftily against Thy people:
  And taken counsel against Thy secret ones.
          (lxxxiii. 2, 3.)

  Lay hand upon the shield and buckler:
  And stand up to help me.
  Bring forth the spear and stop the way
      against them that persecute me:
  Say unto my soul, I am thy salvation.
          (xxxv. 2, 3.)

This sense of an irreconcilable conflict between the malignity of evil
and the will of God, between the carnal mind and that reflection of
God's will which He has implanted in the human conscience, is much to
seek in our own day.  We are too much inclined to minimise the reality
of sin, and to imagine that it is {38} disappearing before civilisation
and the growth of gentler ways and sentiments.  The Psalmists knew
better--they knew that the battle was to the death, and that God alone
can win His own victory; and they express, sternly and roughly perhaps,
but with the utmost sincerity, their undying faith that He will; that
the overthrow of malice and falsehood and treachery must one day be

  God shall suddenly shoot at them with a swift arrow,

and that the part we each have played in the battle will be the true
measure of our worth.

  All they that are true of heart shall be glad.

In this sense we may even repeat the dreadful conclusion of the
Babylonian exiles' Psalm:

  Blessed shall he be that taketh thy children:
  And throweth them against the stones.

For what are Babylon and her children but the powers of falsehood,
oppression, and cruelty? and blessed still and ever is he who is afire
with indignation against such things, who scorns {39} any easy
compromise with them, who burns to deal a blow at them for Jerusalem's

And there is still another justification for the continued use of these
Psalms, which will be understood by those who have begun to be
disciples in the Church's school.  The Psalms are not merely the
response to revelation, they are part of that revelation themselves.
The Church uses them not as mere human utterances, but as the inspired
words which God Himself has given her, and which the Lord Jesus
consecrated by His own personal use of them.  God cannot contradict
Himself.  The Gospel may expand the Law, or do away with its letter in
order to bring out the underlying spirit, but it cannot abrogate it.
If there were a real discrepancy between the imprecatory Psalms and the
New Testament, it would be scarcely conceivable that the first word of
Scripture quoted in the first history of the Church would be that
sentence already alluded to:

  Let his habitation be made desolate:
  And let no man dwell therein.

The severities of the Psalms are matched by the severities of the
Gospels.  There is no real difference between our Lord's sentence on
the scribes and Pharisees, "Behold, your house is {40} left unto you
desolate," and the sentence which the Holy Spirit puts into our mouth
against the hypocrite and the traitor, "Let his children be fatherless:
and his wife a widow" (cix. 8).  God is still "a God of judgment" and a
"consuming fire," and there is a "wrath of the Lamb" revealed, even
though He is "the Lamb of God that taketh away the sins of the world."

God has, as it were, put upon our lips, in these Psalms, His own great
condemnation of sin, and made us our own judges.  We recite,
remembering that it is His word, and not our own, the denunciation of
the sensual and the covetous, the traitor and the liar, the persecutor,
the slanderer, and the hypocrite.  From this point of view the
recitation of such Psalms as the 69th or the 109th should be an
exercise of personal humility, of godly fear for ourselves and others,
and might well bring to our mind often that other great challenge of
the Spirit:

  Why dost thou preach My laws, and takest My covenant in thy mouth?
  Whereas thou hatest to be reformed:
  And hast cast My words behind thee.
          (Ps. l. 16, 17.)


These are considerations which surely ought to be well weighed before
we seek to make the Psalter a book of "smooth things" only, or
eliminate any part of its witness.  There are no short or easy methods
applicable to its deeper difficulties.  Like all the ultimate problems
of faith, they fade away only before the uncreated Light of the Spirit
of God, when He visits the heart.

  I have heard of Thee by the hearing of the ear:
  But now mine eye seeth _Thee_.
          (Job xlii. 5.)

[1] "Inasmuch as I know not man's learning, I will enter into the
mighty works of the Lord."




Paravi lucernam Christo meo.

Jewish and Christian tradition alike connect the Psalter with the great
name of David.  Whether David himself wrote any of the Psalms or not is
a question that may continue to agitate the minds of scholars.  But
there can be no question that the permanency of the throne of David and
the Divine promises on which it rested are leading thoughts in the
Psalter.  The starting-point must be sought earlier in the Old
Testament, in the great oracle communicated by Nathan to David (2 Sam.
vii., referred to directly in Ps. lxxxix. 20, etc.), "Thy throne shall
be established for ever."  In this was recognised from the first
something more than a mere promise of the long continuance of the crown
in the family of the son of Jesse.  It carried with it some special
sanction and {44} blessing over and above the ordinary Divine authority
of heaven-anointed kings.  The words "I will be his Father, and he
shall be My son" seemed to imply a peculiar and unique relationship
between God Himself, the true King of Israel, and His earthly
representative.  The comment ascribed to David himself is significant:
"Is this the manner of _man_, O Lord God?"  No mere human sovereignty,
however glorious or firmly settled, would satisfy such a prophecy as

The thoughts of the pious in Israel must have dwelt often and deeply in
after-time upon this promise and its connection with the Divine calling
of the sacred nation and her mission in the world.  It is remarkable
how persistently this thought of the permanence and supernatural
character of the Davidic sovereignty recurs in the prophetic
writings--even when the crown had passed to an unworthy head, or seemed
to have been plucked off for ever.  Jeremiah, when the clouds are
gathering thickly round the doomed city, foretells that the covenant of
David will be as lasting as that of "the day and the night in their
season," and that the seed of David will be unnumbered "as the host of
heaven and the sand of the sea" (Jer. xxxiii.).  Ezekiel from his
far-off exile {45} by the waters of Babylon, while he proclaims the
Divine sentence against the degenerate son of David--"Remove the mitre,
and take off the crown: this shall be no more: ... I will overturn,
overturn, overturn it, ... until He come Whose right it is"--predicts
the time when Judah and Ephraim shall be one, and "David My servant
shall be their prince for ever" (Ezek. xxi. 26, 27, xxxvii. 15-28).
Haggai, in the days of the Return, continues the promise to the
uncrowned prince, Zerubbabel--"I have chosen thee, saith the Lord of
hosts" (Hag. ii. 23).

It is not to be wondered at that in the Psalter, the inspired response
of worshipping Israel to the revelation of God, we should find Psalms
that rejoice in this indestructible and royal hope, Psalms that look
beyond present failures and imminent perils to a perfect fulfilment of
what God had spoken "sometime in visions to His saints."  Thus the 2nd
Psalm tells triumphantly of the Divine "law" or "decree" concerning
David's son, and sees in it the assurance of a world-wide empire, the
discomfiture of the raging of the nations and the gathering of the
kings of the earth:

  Thou art My son, this day have I begotten thee.


  Desire of Me, and I shall give thee the heathen for thine inheritance:
  And the utmost parts of the earth for thy possession.

The 18th describes the Almighty riding on His chariot of whirlwind and
storm, coming down from heaven itself in His condescension, to pluck
His anointed out of "many waters," "to deliver him from the strivings
of the people, and to make him the head of the heathen."  The 45th
tells, with "the pen of a ready writer," of this everlasting sceptre
and throne, founded on truth and righteousness, of a king to whom
Divine titles are given, "anointed with the oil of gladness above his
fellows," and sees in the marriage of this king with a foreign princess
the earnest of a kingdom over all the earth.  The 72nd describes not
only the prosperity, but the moral greatness of this empire stretching
from sea to sea, "from the river to the ends of the earth."  Not like
the giant empires of the East, founded on aggression and cruelty, with
no motive but the monstrous pride of their founders and rulers, the
Davidic king is to be the champion of the poor, the needy, and the

  He shall deliver their souls from falsehood and wrong:


  And dear shall their blood be in his sight.

The 89th, while it tells how God has found David His servant and
anointed him with holy oil, and made him "His first-born, higher than
the kings of the earth," is bold to face in those later days the
agonising problem of the apparent failure of all this lofty promise:

  But Thou hast abhorred and forsaken Thine anointed:
  And art displeased at him.
  Thou hast broken the covenant of Thy servant,
  And cast his crown to the ground.

"Lord, how long? ... Lord, where are Thy old loving-kindnesses? ...
Remember, Lord!"

The 132nd, also apparently a Psalm of a later age, though ascribed to
David, dwells with joy on David's love of the sanctuary of God, pleads
for the fulfilment of the promise, asks that the lamp may not be put
out, nor the face of God's anointed "turned away" in confusion.

Rightly are such Psalms as these called "Messianic."  We feel that even
those who {48} originally wrote them looked for more than "transitory
promises."  They were learning to look for the redemption of Israel and
of the world itself through Israel and her kings.  They were bold to
believe, even when the crown was gone and the purple faded, and Israel
was no longer a sovereign state, that the ancient word of God to David
could never be exhausted.  So when at last the great message of the
Archangel came to the virgin of the house of David, it was felt by
those who had read aright the history of their nation that here was no
mere fanciful resuscitation of a dead past, but the vindication of
God's undying purpose: "He shall be great, and shall be called the Son
of the Most High: and the Lord God shall give unto Him the throne of
His father David: and He shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever;
and of His kingdom there shall be no end" (Luke i. 32, 33).

It was therefore strictly legitimate, and in line with all the history
of revelation, that the Christian Church should adopt these Messianic
Psalms as her own thanksgiving for the mysteries of the Incarnation.
Thus on Christmas Day she welcomes the Nativity in some of the Psalms
already alluded to--in that which tells of the reconciliation of
mankind with one {49} another and with God under the figure of the
marriage between the anointed King and the king's daughter "all
glorious within" (xlv.); in that which pleads the great promises to him
who so loved God's presence that he would not "suffer his eyes to sleep
nor his eyelids to slumber" until he had found a permanent
resting-place for that presence among men (cxxxii.); or in that, again,
which in the strength of faith can gaze even on the casting down of the
throne and the breaking of the covenant, resting still on God's
faithfulness among "the rebukes of many people" (lxxxix.).

But there are other Psalms which, if they cannot strictly be called
Messianic, yet bear their witness to another aspect of the same great
hope of Israel.  In the voice of prayer, or joyful confidence, they
look forward to some _coming_ of God to earth, some visible
manifestation of His righteousness and His world-wide purpose:

  For He cometh, for He cometh to judge the earth:
  And with righteousness to judge the world,
      and the people with His truth
          (xcvi. 13),



  Bow Thy heavens, O Lord, and come down:
  Touch the mountains, and they shall smoke.
          (cxliv. 5.)

In the 85th, one of the Psalms appointed for Christmas Day, this advent
of God is spoken of in words which are re-echoed in the prologue to S.
John's Gospel (i. 14) as a dwelling or "tabernacling" of God's glory,
not in the darkness of a Holy of Holies (as the later Jews imagined the
Shekinah), but as a new and permanent fact in the moral order of the

  For His salvation is nigh them that fear Him:
  That glory may dwell in our land.
  Mercy and truth are met together:
  Righteousness and peace have kissed each other.
  Truth shall flourish out of the earth:
  And righteousness hath looked down from heaven.

In such prophetic visions as these, as well as in the Psalms that speak
of the glories of the Messianic King, the Christian conscience has {51}
rightly recognised definite predictions of the coming of Christ, of Him
Who was both "the effulgence of God's glory" (Heb. i. 3) and also, by
His human birth, the Son of David and King of Israel, and Who
manifested the holiness of God in human flesh and blood.  He Himself,
when He came, selected from the Psalms one striking phrase, in which
both ideas, the Divine glory and the human calling, are combined.  For
He quotes, as a witness to Himself and as a corrective of imperfect
views, the 110th Psalm (again a proper Psalm for Christmas Day), where
the Messianic King is spoken of both as Ruler and Victor and Priest of
humanity, and as standing also in a unique relationship to God, which
exalts Him far above any mere earthly connection with David:

  The Lord said unto my Lord:
  Sit thou on My right hand--
  If David then calleth him Lord, how is he his son?
          (Matt. xxii. 45.)

But besides all these prophecies, which look onward to the great
outcome of Israel's history, there is another and wider sense, as the
Christian Fathers apprehended, in which the whole Psalter is the book
of the {52} Incarnation and speaks of Christ.  "David," says S. Jerome,
"on his harp and ten-stringed lute, sings throughout of Christ, and
brings Him up from the dead."  However fanciful and over-subtle the
early Christian commentators may seem to us in their working out of
this idea, they had grasped a profound truth.  When we once recognise
that Christ, knowing Who He was and why He came into the world (_cf._
John xiii. 1), must in the Jewish services or in private prayers have
recited the Psalms with a perfect intention, and found in them the true
expression of Himself, with regard both to the eternal Father and to
His brethren, we are compelled to admit the possibility of each verse
of the Psalms having some bearing on the Incarnation.  It is a
conclusion which might at first sight seem extravagant; but it forces
itself upon us as we realise the true humanity of the Saviour.  He is
"the Son of Man"; He took of the substance of His Virgin-mother the
fulness of human nature; He has a human body, a human soul, a human
spirit; He is "the second Adam," the great Head of our race, Who, in
the striking phrase of S. Irenaeus, has "summed up" (_recapitulavit_)
all humanity and all the long history of man.  "For verily, not of
angels doth He take hold, but He taketh hold of the {53} seed of
Abraham" (Heb. ii. 16).  He has gathered into Himself all truly human
experience, the hopes of humanity, and its sufferings; its infinite
pathos, its capacity of sorrow and of joy, its progress towards God,
and its final apprehension and vision of God.

This is the key to the most constant feature of the Psalter, the
portrait of the Righteous Sufferer.  Whether we regard it as the
personification of the holy nation or the self-expression of human
conscience in its moral witness and its conflicts, it is an ideal that
is only fulfilled in the Just One, Jesus Christ.  He appeared in the
world as the pattern Man, in Whom the Divine image is perfected and
Whose moral nature corresponds with that holiness which is God's
essential character.  He appeared, too, as the perfect realisation of
the filial spirit, that spirit of sonship which is the true attitude of
the creature towards the Creator.  Therefore it is in Christ Himself
that the witness of the Psalms to righteousness, their expression of
man's effort towards his ideal, is taken up, illuminated, made perfect.
Therefore it is that a New Testament writer is found applying directly
and without question to Christ not only the descriptions of the
self-revealing God of the Old Testament, "Thou, Lord, in the beginning
hast {54} laid the foundation of the earth, and the heavens are the
works of Thy hands" (Heb. i. 10, from Ps. cii.), and the portrait of
the Messianic King, "The sceptre of uprightness is the sceptre of Thy
kingdom" (_ib._, from Ps. xlv.), but also the description of _man_ in
his ideal excellence and supremacy:

  Thou madest him a little lower than the angels;
  Thou crownedst him with glory and honour,
  And didst set him over the works of Thy hands
          (Heb. ii., from Ps. viii.),

and that word in which some unknown psalmist and prophet had
consecrated the free obedience of his will to God, as a higher offering
than the sacrifices of the Law:

  Wherefore when He cometh into the world, He saith,
  Sacrifice and offering Thou wouldest not,
  But a body didst Thou prepare for Me;
  In whole burnt offerings and sacrifices for sin
      Thou hadst no pleasure:
  Then said I, Lo, I am come


  (In the roll of the book it is written of Me)
  To do Thy will, O God."
          (Heb. x., from Ps. xl.)

This line of interpretation may be followed out with great spiritual
profit in the varied aspects of the Psalms.  The thanksgivings of the
Psalter are in the same spirit as those recorded by the Evangelists
from our Lord's own lips, as when He thanked the Father for the
revelation made to babes rather than to the wise and understanding
(Matt. xi. 25), or at the grave of Lazarus gave thanks that His prayer
was heard (John xi. 41).  The prayers of the Psalter might well be
those in which the Incarnate Son communed with the Father.  For He
fought our human battle with the human weapons of faith and prayer.
The great description given by the author of the Epistle to the Hebrews
of Christ as "the Author and Finisher of our faith" (Heb. xii. 2),
implies One Who inaugurated our effort of faith by Himself first taking
part in it, and Himself perfectly accomplished it by bearing to the
very final and utmost strain our human temptations.  Hence we may hear
the voice of Christ Himself in those pathetic outcries of the Psalter;
in its appeal of faith as the Righteous One wrestles with doubt and
{56} depression or faces the contradiction of sinners; in its stedfast
hold on God even when sin is triumphing, and a world created good seems
given over into the hand of the wicked.  All these utterances have a
new meaning, a fuller efficacy, when we recognise in them the words of
the "Man of Sorrows and acquainted with grief."  There is nothing
either fantastic or presumptuous in this reading of the Gospel in the
Psalter.  Did not He Himself vouchsafe to shew us something of this
human struggle of faith in the words spoken on the eve of His Passion,
when He confessed that His soul was troubled, and He would fain have
said, "Father, save Me from this hour" (John xii. 27)?  Did He not lift
the veil even further in admitting us to the dark sanctuary of
Gethsemane, in suffering us to hear even His utterances from the Cross?

The fourth Word from the Cross, so often misunderstood, is the opening
of the 22nd Psalm.  This cry at the climax of the Passion is really the
voice of faith, faith triumphing over desolation of spirit, faith
holding on by the unseen, amidst the falling away and the vanishing for
the time of every consolation.  It is not _merely_ "Why didst Thou
forsake Me?" but it is "My God, My God," the fundamental confession of
a personal faith in a personal God, seeing Him {57} Who is invisible,
waiting for Him Who hides His face, believing, even though His truth
and justice seem blotted out of the world, that God is, and that He is
still "enthroned upon the praises of Israel" (v. 3).  And this faith
finds its last utterance of peace and thanksgiving and renewed
consciousness of union with the Father in the seventh Word, again from
the Psalter, "Into Thy hands I commend My spirit" (Ps. xxxi. 6).

One of the most fruitful lines of Christian meditation will be found in
this Christological aspect of the Psalms.  It throws a wonderful light
on the inner life of our Lord, and gives the Psalter a value which no
merely literary study could give.

The five Psalms appointed by our Church for Good Friday are a rich
storehouse of the secrets of the Passion.  The 22nd and the 69th bear
upon it very directly, and present many points of similarity.  In each
the sufferings of the Righteous are described minutely and
pathetically, in each these sufferings lead on to triumph and to the
assurance of their world-wide efficacy:

  All the ends of the earth shall remember themselves,
      and be turned unto the Lord:


  And all the kindreds of the nations shall worship before Him.
          (xxii. 27.)

  For God will save Sion, and build the cities of Judah:
  That men may dwell there and have it in possession.
  The posterity also of His servants shall inherit it:
  And they that love His Name shall dwell therein.
          (lxix. 36, 37.)

Each, again, in its picture of undeserved suffering, brings out the
true nature and the malignity of _sin_.  In the 22nd sin is portrayed
in its cruelty and its irrational character, as if men led by it were
but wild beasts, "wild oxen," "bulls of Bashan," "dogs," and "lions."
In the 69th we see its ingratitude, and its pitiless and causeless
malice, and the fact that, whatever its immediate object, it is really
directed against God Himself:

  For Thy sake I have suffered reproach.
      *      *      *      *      *
  The reproaches of them that reproached Thee are fallen upon me.

Both these Psalms, again, contain what we {59} must confess to be
definite predictions of details of the Passion.  The 22nd tells of the
very words and gestures which the chief priests and Pharisees in their
blindness made use of to insult the Crucified:

  All they that see me laugh me to scorn:
  They shoot out their lips, and shake their heads, saying,
  He trusted in God, that He would deliver him:
  Let Him deliver him now, if He will have him.
          (_Cf._ Matt, xxvii. 39-43.)

Another startling prediction is that of the piercing of the hands and
the feet.  No such punishment was used by the Jews, or endured, as far
as we know, by any of the martyrs of the Old Testament.  All the four
Evangelists, again, note the literal fulfilment of xxii. 18:

  They part my garments among them:
  And cast lots upon my vesture.

Indeed, this 22nd Psalm along with Isaiah liii. stands forth beyond all
the other writings of the Old Testament as a witness which is proof
against all attempts to explain it away, to the {60} truth that "the
Spirit of Christ" was in the prophets "testifying beforehand of the
sufferings of Christ "(1 Peter i. 11).

The 69th (like the 40th) may have been originally suggested by the
persecution of the prophet Jeremiah, when he was thrown into the miry
cistern (Jer. xxxviii.); but it contains an anticipation of Calvary,
whose fulfilment is described by all the Evangelists, in the wine
mingled with myrrh, and the vinegar and gall offered in mockery before
the Crucifixion:

  They gave me gall to eat:
  And when I was thirsty they gave me vinegar to drink.

S. John, the nearest to the Cross and to the heart of the Crucified,
tells us moreover that this verse was consciously appropriated by
Christ Himself, when, "knowing that all things are now finished, that
the Scripture might be accomplished, He saith, I thirst" (John xix. 28).

Each of the other proper Psalms for Good Friday bears its witness to
the suffering Christ.  The 88th, at first sight one of the most
difficult in the Psalter, a Psalm whose darkness seems scarcely
illuminated by any ray of hope, is clearly chosen to illustrate
Christ's desolation on the Cross, the Three Hours of darkness, His {61}
Burial and His descent into Hades.  The Sufferer is absolutely alone,
lover and friend are in darkness; He is fighting the battle with that
last enemy of mankind, the King of Terrors, yet overcoming the
sharpness of death by faith and patient endurance; He is looking on to
the dawn of Easter:

  Unto Thee have I cried, O Lord:
  And early shall my prayer come unto Thee;


  In the morning shall my prayer come before Thee (R.V.).

May not even those strange words "from My youth up Thy terrors have I
suffered with a troubled mind" have been on the lips and in the thought
of the "Man of Sorrows" as the Cross cast its shadow over Him, perhaps
from His earliest years?  "For not even our Lord Jesus Christ Himself,"
says _The Imitation_ in one of those chapters which sweeten the tears
of the world, "was ever one hour without the anguish of His Passion as
long as He lived" (_Imit._ ii. 12).

Both the 40th and the 54th suggest that inner secret of the Atonement
which the writer of the {62} Epistle to the Hebrews has fixed upon as
giving Christ's Passion its universal efficacy:

  An offering of a free heart will I give Thee.
          (liv. 6.)

  I come--that I should fulfil Thy will, O my God.
          (xl. 9, 10.)

"By which will we have been sanctified, through the offering of the
body of Jesus Christ once for all" (Heb. x. 10).  For the Passion is
the supreme oblation of the freewill of man, the re-direction into the
right attitude of that high faculty by which man had sinned and fallen
originally, the consecration of it to its true end, voluntary obedience
to God.  "Not My will, but Thine be done"; that Christ as man should
bring the human will perfectly into conformity with the will of God is
what "in the volume of the book"--_i.e._ in the writings of all the
line of prophets--was written of Him; for this "the body was prepared"
for Him in the pure flesh of the Virgin-mother; for this His "ears were
opened," that as child and youth and man He might perfectly hear and
obey the word of the Father.

But the 15th verse of the 40th Psalm suggests {63} an obvious
difficulty in the application of the Psalms as a whole to Christ

  My sins have taken such hold upon me that I am not
      able to look up:
  Yea, they are more in number than the hairs of my head,
      and my heart hath failed me.

How can we ascribe these words, or any of the confessions of sin in the
Psalter, to the sinless Lamb of God?  Are not these at least all our
own?  And yet He Himself must on earth have repeated them.  In their
original meaning they referred either to personal or national guilt.
In either sense the recitation of them, at first sight, would seem to
be alien and external to His pure conscience.  But do they not take a
deeper and more solemn tone when we consider them in the light of the
prophet's great description of the Atoning Sufferer, "The Lord hath
laid on Him the iniquity of us all" (Is. liii. 6), or of S. Paul's
statement, "Him Who knew no sin, He made to be sin on our behalf" (2
Cor. v. 21)?  Such words as these contain more than the mere bearing of
the punishment of sin; they imply some inward connection between the
Sufferer and the sin.  Indeed, rightly understood, they help to {64}
remove the difficulty that many have felt as to the apparent injustice
or unreality of a vicarious Atonement.  Christ was not merely a Victim
suffering for human sin; He was man's Creator taking that sin upon
Himself.  Thus these expressions of penitence in the Psalter may be
regarded as the voice of the sympathetic love of the Sin-bearer, the
love which stands by the sinner's side, and feels with him so
intimately that it makes its own what is not its own but utterly alien
and hateful, makes it its own that it may burn it up in the flame of
love.  So in these Psalms we may hear the Son of Man confessing and
making reparation for all the age-long sin of man; speaking of it as if
it were His own sin, so closely has He made Himself one with us in our
extremest need.

Cardinal Newman, in one of the most eloquent of his sermons, "The
Mental Sufferings of our Lord in His Passion," has developed this
thought in language whose daring is only justified by its devotion.  It
is a description of Christ kneeling alone in Gethsemane:

His very memory is laden with every sin which has been committed since
the Fall, in all regions of the earth, with the pride of the old
giants, and the lusts of the five cities, and the obduracy of Egypt,
and the ambition of Babel, and the {65} unthankfulness and scorn of
Israel.  Of the living and the dead and of the as yet unborn, of the
lost and of the saved, of Thy people and of strangers, of sinners and
of saints, all sins are there....  It is the long history of a world,
and God alone can bear the load of it....  They are upon Him, they are
all but His own.  He cries to His Father as if He were the criminal,
not the victim.  His agony takes the form of guilt and compunction.  He
is doing penance, He is making confession, He is exercising contrition
with a reality and a virtue infinitely greater than that of all saints
and penitents together; for He is the one Victim for us all, the sole
satisfaction, the real penitent, all but the real sinner.[1]

Connected closely with these confessions of sin, these outcries of
suffering and expiation, with the _Miserere_ and the _De Profundis_,
are those solemn declarations of God's wrath upon the impenitent sinner
which have already been alluded to in a previous lecture.  Viewed as
the utterances of the Son of Man such Psalms are more rightly to be
called _judicial_ than denunciatory.  It is He to Whom all judgment has
been committed by the Father, He Whose coming into the world was
inevitably "for judgment," Who seems here to be delivering {66}
sentence.  He is taking up and confirming the fragmentary utterances of
older days, in which the human conscience, imperfectly perhaps, and not
without some mixture of personal feeling, yet on the whole rightly, had
cried out against falsehood and wrong, and appealed to the wrath of
God.  The words of such a Psalm even as the 109th might have been used
by Him Who twice scourged the buyers and sellers out of the Temple, and
Who denounced in words that burn like fire through the centuries the
cruelty and hypocrisy of scribes and Pharisees; Who Himself in mercy
warned us of the outer darkness and the unquenched flame.

But the Psalms not only illustrate the Passion of Christ in its mercy
and judgment; they also supply words befitting His Resurrection and
Triumph.  It may be true that there is no clear or continuous line of
prophecy in the Old Testament concerning the life after death.  But it
is at least equally true that the belief is there, grasped in moments
of intuition by the saints of Israel, disappearing for a time like a
buried river, but coming ever and anon again to the surface.  So in the
Psalms there are certainly evidences of the undying hope of the
faithful that truth and justice must one day {67} visibly triumph, and
that man, in proportion as he is true to these things and therefore
true to God, Whose nature they are, and true to himself, as made in
God's image--man must also be immortal.  He will not go down into
silence; an endless future opens before him, as yet unfathomed and
unknown, but certain.  So in the Psalms which the Christian instinct,
illuminated by the Spirit of Pentecost, seized upon in its first words
of witness (Acts ii. 25-8) as prophetic of Christ, we have the

  I have set God always before me:
  For He is on my right hand, therefore I shall not fall.
  Wherefore my heart was glad, and my glory rejoiced:
  My flesh also shall rest in hope.
  For why?  Thou shalt not leave my soul in hell:[2]
  Neither shalt Thou suffer Thy Holy[3] One to see corruption.
          (Ps. xvi. 9-11.)


And again:

  As for me, I will behold Thy presence in righteousness:
  And when I awake up after Thy likeness, I shall be satisfied with it.
          (Ps. xvii. 16.)

So again, in that profoundly spiritual Psalm, the 73rd, the writer
turns from the puzzles of the moral order and the misgivings of his own
heart, and seeks refuge in the abiding fact of his personal fellowship
with God.  He finds _there_ the assurance not only that the wicked will
pass away "like a dream when one awaketh," but that the righteous is

  My flesh and my heart faileth:
  But God is the strength of my heart and my portion for ever.

Such Psalms as these find their full meaning only in the light of
Easter.  The Resurrection of Christ was no mere portent or isolated
miracle; it was strictly in line with all that man had risen up to in
his highest spiritual intuitions in the past.  It is true, in a much
fuller sense than that of accomplishing a mere prediction, that Christ
"rose again, according to the Scriptures."

This essential immortality of the righteous, through his union with
God, is implied throughout {69} the Easter Psalms, especially in the
118th (part of "the Egyptian Hallel"), words which must have been
recited by the Lord and His Apostles at the Passover Supper, in the
very imminence of the Passion.

  The voice of joy and health is in the dwellings of the righteous: ...
  I shall not die, but live:
  And declare the works of the Lord.

Ascension Day completes the triumph of man raised to immortality
through his union with God in Christ.  It inaugurates the
accomplishment of man's ideal, in the eternal mediatorial reign of
Christ as the Head of the human race.  The appointed Psalms are again
most suggestive.  The 8th sings triumphantly of the supremacy of man
over all the works of God, man crowned "with glory and worship."  The
15th and the 24th describe the moral perfections which are the
condition of this exaltation:

  Lord, who shall dwell in Thy tabernacle:
  Or who shall rest upon Thy holy hill?
  Even he that leadeth an uncorrupt life:
  And doeth the thing which is right, and speaketh the truth
      from his heart.
      *      *      *      *      *


  Whoso doeth these things:
  Shall never fall.

The 21st and the 108th look back to the promises to David and to the
typical character of his wars and victories.  They shew that these
events were part and parcel of the Divine warfare; they were a
foretaste of the triumph of God Himself.  They suggest that the
Ascension of Christ, while it gathers into itself all the moral
victories of the past, is the beginning of a new order.  It brings in a
Catholic empire of truth and righteousness, which, in spite of puzzles
and warfare and contradictions, parallel to those which vexed the heart
of the prophets of old, is now absolutely certain in its hope:

  Who will lead me into the strong city:
  And who will bring me into Edom?
  Hast not Thou forsaken us, O God:
  And wilt not Thou, O God, go forth with our hosts?
  O help us against the enemy:
  For vain is the help of man.
  Through God we shall do great acts:
  And it is He that shall tread down our enemies.


Thus, to him who, by God's mercy, has learned the Catholic Faith, the
Psalms are full of Christ from end to end.  He reads Christ in them,
not by a pious imagination, but as the legitimate and only perfect key
to their meaning and their use by the Church.  In the Psalms he
worships Christ as God:

  Thy seat, O God, endureth for ever.
          (xlv. 7.)

In the Psalms he worships with Christ as the Son of Man, with Him Who
alone could say rightly:

  My soul hath kept Thy testimonies:
  And loved them exceedingly.
          (cxix. 167.)

The human sorrows and struggles which cry out in the Psalter have been
taken into the sacred heart of Him Who is the Word of the Father, and
the King and Priest and Prophet of humanity, in Whom is fulfilled the

  He sent His Word, and healed them:
  And they were saved from their destruction.
          (cvii. 20.)

This Catholic secret of the Psalter, writ large as it is over the
history of the Church's worship, {72} is yet something that eludes mere
human research, and is a stumbling-block to human learning and
scholarship.  It can only be taught by that "hidden wisdom" of which S.
Paul has told us (1 Cor. ii.), the wisdom given often to the weak of
this world, the wisdom of the Spirit Who dwells in the Church, and
makes her "the pillar and ground of the truth" (1 Tim. iii. 15).

[1] _Discourses to Mixed Congregations_, xvi.

[2] _i.e._ Sheol, Hades, the grave or place of departed souls.

[3] _i.e._ godly or pious, a characteristic word of the Psalmists,
implying not only consecration but active devotion to God.




  Gloriosa dicta sunt de te:
  Civitas Dei.

It has already been pointed out that the personal element in the
Psalms, vivid and even passionate as it appears, if they are read as
mere lyrics, has been transformed by the Church's use of them as her
hymns of worship.  The "I" of the Psalter has become the voice of the
worshipping community.

The Jews themselves recited the personal Psalms in a national sense.
Even such an intensely personal confession of sin as the 51st Psalm
becomes through the last two verses (possibly added by a later pen) the
confession of national penitence and the voice of national hope:

  O be favourable and gracious unto Sion:
  Build Thou the walls of Jerusalem.


But besides such liturgical adaptations, whether of letter or spirit,
many of the later Psalms, especially those which clearly belong to the
period of the second Temple, were written intentionally for the nation
as a whole.  "We" predominates, instead of the earlier "I."  In these
Psalms the nation reviews her past history, or cries out against her
present oppressors, or looks onward to liberty and enlargement in the

But the nation which thus finds her voice in the Psalms is of a
different spirit from the kingdoms of this world.  Her patriotism is of
a higher order.  She is conscious of a Divine vocation, separating her
from the nations of the heathen:

  Thou hast brought a vine out of Egypt:
  Thou hast cast out the heathen, and planted it.
          (lxxx. 8.)

  What time as they went from one nation to another:
  From one kingdom to another people;
  He suffered no man to do them wrong:
  But reproved even kings for their sakes;
  Touch not Mine Anointed:
  And do My prophets no harm.
          (cv. 13-15-)


She has a treasure committed to her keeping, which others have not:

  He sheweth His word unto Jacob:
  His statutes and ordinances unto Israel.
  He hath not dealt so with any nation:
  Neither have the heathen knowledge of His laws.
          (cxlvii. 19-20.)

She has a hope that burns within her, which to the world would be

  The Lord hath chosen Sion to be a habitation for Himself:
  He hath longed for her.
  This shall be my rest for ever:
  Here will I dwell, for I have a delight therein.
          (cxxxii. 14, 15.)

In other words, the community which speaks in the Psalter is more than
a nation; she is a theocracy, a Church.  Her characteristic names are
prophetic; they suggest supernatural dealings and a heavenly calling.
She is "Israel," heiress of him who "persevered with God" and won the
blessing; she is the "seed of Abraham," in which it was promised that
"all the nations of {76} the earth should be blessed"; she is "Sion,"
the "stronghold," "Jerusalem," name of ideals, "vision" or "possession"
or "foundation"--"of peace"!  It is as this sacred congregation, this
_ecclesia_, that the nation rejoices in the Psalms in her calling and
illumination, sorrows over her failures, prays in her warfare, waits
for her glory.

It is not surprising that the Catholic Church recognised here her own
portrait, or that the outlines sketched in the Psalter have been filled
with light and colour and detail during the Christian centuries.  The
Catholic Church instinctively felt herself to be the true successor of
the Israel of the Psalms.  The ancient titles were retained, but in a
fuller meaning.  To S. Paul the Church is the "Israel of God" (Gal. vi.
16) in contrast to the "Israel after the flesh."  The author of the
Epistle to the Hebrews tells his Christian readers that they are "come
unto Mount Sion" (xii. 22).  S. Peter applies to the Church the old
titles given to Israel in the Law, "an elect race, a royal priesthood,
a holy nation" (1 Peter ii. 9).  S. John in the Apocalypse sees the new
Jerusalem, having not only the names of "the twelve apostles of the
Lamb" on her jewelled foundations, but the names of the "twelve tribes
of the children of Israel" on {77} her gates of pearl (Rev. xxi. 12,
14).  Old things had passed away, the sacred people of God remained,
but no longer confined to the narrow boundaries of Palestine, nor to
the dispersed descendants of Abraham: her children were "princes in all
lands," all who were "of faith" were counted her seed.  The Church knew
herself to be the Israel of the future, custodian of a greater
treasure, called to a grander work.

The Psalter indeed demands this higher interpretation.  Just as the
portrait of the Righteous One would have been an unfulfilled ideal had
not Christ made it His own, so the glowing descriptions of Israel would
have been but pious dreamings had not the Catholic Church risen up out
of the fallen tabernacle of David.  As the songs of the Temple falter
and die away, the new spirit of praise clothes itself in the ancient
forms.  "From the uttermost part of the earth have we heard songs,
Glory to the Righteous" (Is. xxiv. 16).  The very words of the Psalter
become transfigured like the garments of the Lord on the holy mount.

Nor is this passing away of the glory of old Israel into the greater
glories of the Catholic Israel of God without some foreshadowing in the
Psalter itself.  In the 22nd, the great {78} Psalm of the Passion, the
Sufferer passes from the dogs and lions and the mocking faces that
surround him to contemplate the far-off fruit of his anguish.  He seems
to see "a great congregation," in the midst of which he himself
hereafter will praise God Who has heard his prayer.  Mysteriously it
seems to rise, this "seed," this "people that shall be born," out of
the very hopelessness and desolation of the Cross.  "All the ends of
the earth" are united in it, "all the kindred of the nations" worship
there.  The rich and the poor alike have their place in this kingdom of
the future.  And the special characteristic of this new creation of God
will be the sharing in a sacrificial feast, the Sufferer's
thanksgiving, his Eucharist in which he "pays his vows."  Here "the
meek shall eat and be satisfied," here eating and worshipping are
strangely intermingled--a prophecy unread and unfulfilled until the
Church learnt the secret "in the same night that He was betrayed."

  "Therefore we, before Him bending,
    This great Sacrament revere;
  Types and shadows have their ending,
    For the newer Rite is here."

This ecclesiastical aspect of the Psalter is {79} of very high
importance.  There is perhaps no part of the Christian faith which is
more difficult for "the natural man" than "the Holy Catholic Church."
An erroneous or imperfect idea of the Church seems to pass muster,
among Christians even, so much more readily than error in other matters
of faith.  All through Christian history the true idea of the Church
has been obscured, now by imperialism, with its misleading traditions
of the Roman Empire; now by nationalism, as if the Church were only the
religious aspect of a civil community; or again by individualism, as if
she were no more than a collection of separate units.  Erastianism and
Puritanism in turn have led men astray.  The warning against such
things is written largely enough in the history of ancient Israel.  The
Jews of our Lord's time, while insisting keenly, even bitterly, on
their separation from the Gentiles, were for the most part forgetful of
what that separation really involved.  Their ambition to be separate
from the nations of the earth only meant for them a worldly and selfish
exclusiveness.  In earlier days the clamour for a king, the thirst for
alliances with Egypt and Assyria and Babylon, had displayed in the
opposite manner much the same spirit.  Religious privileges, that
Divine calling which {80} had made them a nation, were to be used as a
means to worldly advancement and security.  In the Psalter there stands
out a truer conception of the Church as the spiritual commonwealth, a
kingdom of God in the world, but not of this world's spirit, organised
for higher ends than self-protection or self-development, aiming not at
conquest but at the conversion and good of mankind, glorying not in
privilege but in vocation, not in self but in the law of God.  And this
is the pattern for all time.  The Christian Church may find in the
Psalter her own just self-expression in a fuller manner than ever
ancient Israel did or could.  Indeed, we may trace indelibly stamped on
the Psalter the true lineaments of the ideal Church.

First in the Psalter there is the note of _comprehensiveness_.  The
heathen, the nations, so often denounced or prayed against in the
Psalms, are, after all, not so much those who are outside the
boundaries of Israel as those who are alien from her spirit.  They are
communities, societies, untouched by grace, governed by passion and
worldly ambitions rather than by conscience or the Divine law.  And
side by side with threats and foreboding of their utter destruction in
the day of God there are glimpses here and there of the possibility of
{81} their conversion, and even of their becoming one family with
Israel.  The great Psalm of Whitsunday, the 68th, passes from the
thought of God wounding the head of His enemies, of His warriors
dipping their feet in the blood of the vanquished, to the hope of the
princes coming out of Egypt, and Ethiopia making haste to stretch out
her hands unto God.  So, again, the 47th Psalm looks forward to the
essential sovereignty of God over all the earth being recognised even
by this world's rulers:

  The princes of the people are joined unto the people
      of the God of Abraham.[1]

And lest it should be thought that such hopes referred only to an
empire of external rule, like that of Solomon's, we have the startling
predictions of Ps. lxxxvii.  Here the people of Rahab (Egypt) and
Babylon, the Philistines, the Tyrians, the Ethiopians, all types of the
obstinate and idolatrous heathen world, are pictured as forsaking their
natural lineage and descent to be born again in Zion, enrolling
themselves there as citizens of the Lord's {82} glorious foundation
upon the holy mountains, finding there their joy and the fount of their

  The Lord shall count, when He writeth up the peoples:
  This one was born _there_.
  They that sing as well as they that dance shall say,
  All my fountains are in Thee.  (R.V.)

Surely this is one of the most remarkable foreshadowings in the Old
Testament of the catholicity of the Church, and of that new birth of
Baptism by which men of every race and tongue are grafted into the one
body, "where there cannot be Greek and Jew, circumcision and
uncircumcision, barbarian, Scythian, bondman, freeman: but Christ is
all, and in all" (Col. iii. 11).  In this and in many other Psalms
(_cf._ lxvii., xcviii., c.) we confess the essentially _missionary_
vocation of the Church; that she calls to all mankind, not to the
Western nations only, nor to the progressive and civilised only.  Hers
is the one faith for all men, her citizenship unlimited by any barriers
of race or temperament.

If the catholicity of the Church is so clearly sketched in the Psalter,
no less clear is {83} her _social_ ideal.  The poor, the oppressed,
those who have no helper, are equally called to share in Israel's hope
and her gifts.  God Himself is her pattern, Who--

  Taketh up the simple out of the dust:
  And lifteth the poor out of the mire;
  That He may set him with the princes:
  Even with the princes of His people.

The Messianic King will count the blood of the poor and needy equally
precious with that of the rich and great (lxxii.).  The Sufferer of the
Passion Psalm (xxii.) looks forward, as we have seen, to the result of
his triumph, in not only calling the "fat ones of the earth" to eat and
worship at his table, but in finding there an equal place for--

  Even him that cannot keep his soul alive.
        (xxii. 30, R.V.)

These are lessons which we have as yet gone but a little way in
learning.  Yet the Psalter, as we recite it day by day, puts in our own
mouth the condemnation of exclusiveness and pride and of deafness to
the complaint of the poor; it makes us confess at least the Catholic
{84} ideal of unity, of universal justice, of the imperishable value of
the individual life, of the transformation of human society in the
light of the Divine sovereignty of Christ.

The two lines of the Church's activity just alluded to, missionary and
social, so prominent in the Psalms, are calling to-day so loudly for
self-humiliation and new effort, that they may profitably be dwelt on a
little further.  The Psalmist's prophecy of the kings of Arabia and
Saba bringing gifts (lxxii.) is still largely unfulfilled.  The East is
still almost untouched.  Asia has not yet brought her characteristic
gift to Christ.  She is still under the dominion of imperfect
religions--Buddhism, Hinduism, Islam.  And yet India is our possession;
Japan is our pupil.  "The way of the kings of the East" is already
"prepared" (Rev. xvi. 12), but where is the adequate response from
English Christianity?  "Who is blind but My servant, or deaf as My
messenger that I send?"

And turning homewards, what are we to say of these grotesque and
monstrous contrasts between wealth and poverty, luxury and squalor in
England to-day, where rich and poor alike are baptized?  What of the
immoralities of commerce, of the bad work of the labourer as well as
the swindling of the capitalist?  Does {85} not the spirit of the
Psalter cut across it all like the keen breath of the mountain wind?
Yet Englishmen are spending time and energy in ritual debates and
persecutions, and educational and social strife.  Worse still, the rich
and intellectual, for some prejudice or political motive, are eager to
deny the poor the beauties of worship or the definiteness of the
Catholic Faith.

  Surely Thou hast seen it:
  For Thou beholdest ungodliness and wrong.
          (x. 15.)

In view of these unfulfilled ideals of the Church, the Psalter provides
us in such Psalms as the 78th, the 79th, or the 106th with confession
of sin and failure under the figure of Hebrew history.  The recitation
of these may well remind us not merely of personal faults but of our
own share in the shortcomings of the Church of God:

  We have sinned with our fathers:
  We have done amiss and dealt wickedly.

For the Church as well as ourselves we are taught to pray, "Turn us
again, O Lord God of hosts."  The sorrows and desolations of Zion are
never represented in the Psalms as being _merely_ the effect of heathen
malice, {86} though they are so largely that, but as calls to look back
upon history, and also to look within, to consider what unfaithfulness
there may have been and is, what "starting aside like a broken bow" in
our fathers and in ourselves.

From this point of view the penitential Psalms"[2] might profitably be
used not merely as the expression of personal penitence, but as an act
of reparation, an offering to God of our sorrow for the worldliness and
imperfections of His Church; as an incentive also to effort, that we
may do our part to remove the "reproach of the heathen," to restore the
Church from within, to seek her unity and peace.

There is, however, another side to the problem of the Church's
failures.  Israel and Jerusalem are constantly described in the Psalms
as being the marks for the malignity and opposition of external
enemies.  Indeed, a persistent note of the Church, Jewish as well as
Christian, is the hatred which she awakens in the powers of this world.
The object of suspicion and attack from Egypt, Assyria, and Babylon in
early days, Jerusalem fares no better after the humiliation of the
Captivity.  The attempts to {87} rebuild the Temple and restore the
city arouse the bitterest hostility from the surrounding peoples, a
hostility not merely political, but traceable to a deeper cause.  The
attempts of Antiochus Epiphanes in the second century B.C. to break
down Jewish separation and to destroy Jewish worship are marked by the
same spirit, working in a more arrogant and brutal manner.  Our Lord
Himself promises no smoother or more popular course for His faithful
ones.  "Ye shall be hated of all men."  S. Paul recognises the same
antagonism running throughout the history of the elect: "As then he
that was born after the flesh persecuted him that was born after the
Spirit, even so it is now" (Gal. iv. 29).

The Psalter will not allow us to shut our eyes to this malignant and
persecuting attitude of the world.  The enemies of the Righteous find a
place in almost every Psalm.  The malice of human nature at its worst
seems to be marshalled against Him, in slander and ingratitude and
treachery.  But there is also the opposition of the heathen as a whole
against Israel.  The vicissitudes of her history are typical; they
illustrate a permanent principle which is found working from age to
age.  It was not less active nor less brutal in the first three
Christian centuries {88} than it was in the days of Antiochus.  To-day,
though its attack is less outwardly cruel, the spirit which prompts it
is just as deeply seated, and more malignant perhaps in proportion as
it is veiled.  The Church has not merely to contend with the hatred of
those who have chosen and loved evil, and find the righteous a standing
reproach.  There is gathered against her also the world's steady
resentment of spiritual authority; the world's antipathy against all
that refuses to come to terms, or water down its witness to suit
changing fashions of men's thought.  It is the same spirit which in
earlier days called the Christians "the enemies of the human race," and
in these later times directs its sneers and opposition against the
Creeds, the Sacraments, the priesthood--"the spirit of Antichrist."

The 44th Psalm, perhaps belonging to the time of the great Maccabæan
struggle, makes its pathetic appeal to God amidst the scorn and
blasphemy of the heathen, and, what is worse, the bitterness of
apparent failure and defeat which seem to justify the heathen.

  My confusion is daily before me:
  The shame of my face hath covered me:


  For the voice of the slanderer and blasphemer:
  For the enemy and avenger.

Faith indeed does not fail the Psalmist: he clings to God; he still
recognises the hand of God throughout these sufferings; he prefers to
attribute them to God rather than to man:

  _Thou_ makest us to turn our backs upon our enemies: ...
  _Thou_ lettest us be eaten up like sheep: ...
  _Thou_ sellest Thy people for nought:
  And takest no money for them.

Nevertheless, it is all a puzzle, a bewildering maze in which faith
seems walking blindfold, like the Lord Himself when the malice of the
high-priest's servants bandaged His eyes and smote Him in derision and
bade Him prophesy!  The light of God's presence seems to have gone out
of the world:

  Wherefore hidest Thou Thy face:
  And forgettest our misery and trouble.

Very similar is the 74th Psalm, with its same high consciousness of
faithfulness to God, the same agonising sense of contradiction in the
enemies of God being suffered to break down {90} the carved work of the
sanctuary, the same feeling of helplessness and lack of guidance.  The
adversaries' banners are manifest enough, _their_ tokens are clear; but
with the faithful it is otherwise:

  We see not our tokens, there is not one prophet more.

O God, how long! ... Remember! ... Arise! ... Forget not!

Probably of the same period is the 79th, written apparently in the very
hour of the heathen triumph, when the Temple is defiled, Jerusalem "an
heap of stones," the blood of the righteous flowing on every side like
water.  And there is still the characteristic turning away from self
and personal humiliation to the thought of the dishonour done to God
Himself.  For to the faithful the honour of God is dearer than their
own liberty or life.

  Help us, O God of our salvation, for the glory of Thy Name:
  O deliver us, and be merciful unto our sins, for Thy Name's sake.

The 83rd belongs perhaps to an earlier age.  It seems to recall the
great confederacy of the nations against Jehoshaphat (2 Chron. xx.).
The Psalmist cries out to God against the {91} gathering hordes who
have no interest in common, except their mutual hatred of Israel and
Israel's God.  It is a sorry catalogue: Edomites, Ishmaelites,
Moabites, Hagarens; Gebal, Ammon, and Amalek; Philistines, Tyrians,

  "All the warring hosts of error
    Sworn against her, move as one."

But the hot indignation which prays that this rabble of malice and
mischief may be swept like the stubble before the whirlwind, consumed
like the dry grass before the mountain fires, is yet tempered with a
higher thought.  Defeat may lead to conversion and to a better mind:

  Make their faces ashamed, O Lord:
  That they may seek Thy Name.

Once again, the 102nd Psalm breathes out the pathetic appeal of the
exile, or the lonely, friendless watcher over the desolations of the
holy city.  His heart is "smitten down and withered like grass"; he has
"eaten ashes as it were bread, and mingled his drink with weeping."
But his fasting and tears are not for himself; there is the eternal
background of hope; God is unchanging; future generations {92} will
know again the happiness of worship and service--his sorrow is for Zion:

  Thy servants think upon her stones:
  And it pitieth them to see her in the dust.

Do not experiences and prayers like these come home to Christians with
a curious sense of familiarity?  Is not this tragedy of faith repeated
in every age?  In every Christian generation it has been "given" to the
Beast to war against the saints and overcome them (Rev. xiii. 7).  His
undying malice has too often been seconded by the impotence, the lack
of unity, the fear of truth and its consequences, which have marred the
Christian defence.

We find eloquent illustrations of this unceasing, heart-sickening
warfare in such moments of history as that in the fourth century, when
"the whole world groaned and marvelled to find itself Arian";[3] in the
seventh and eighth, when the armies of Islam swept away the divided and
bickering Churches of the East and that Church of North Africa, once so
glorious, where holiness had not kept pace with zeal; in the fifteenth,
{93} when Constantinople fell, and the great cathedral of S. Sophia
passed into the hands of the Turks, and this very day, where once
Christian worship was offered, and Christian emblems high on its walls
still make their silent protest,

  "Moslem prayers profane
  At morn and eve come sounding;"

in the sixteenth, when the fair abbeys of England were despoiled and
suffered to fall into ruin, through covetousness and irreligion
masquerading under the garb of piety; in the seventeenth, when the
voice of the Church's worship was stifled, and the faithful were
interrupted in their very Christmas Communion by the levelled muskets
of the Cromwellian troopers[4]; in our own day, when liberality can
tolerate everything except the Catholic Faith?  Verily these Hebrew
Psalms are a Christian possession for ever.  They speak to us and speak
for us in accents of undying truth, and every year that passes verifies
their witness and points more sharply their appeal.

But not only does the Psalter tell of the Church and her ideals, of her
warfare and her failures, it insists with equal conviction on her
_stability_.  God's great promise to the line of {94} David carried
with it the preservation of David's city.  The attacks of the heathen
seemed to have reached their climax when Sennacherib's army had taken
all the fortified cities of Judæa, and Jerusalem was left isolated and
helpless (2 Kings xix.).  Yet when human hope was gone, the prophet's
word rang out with the certainty of faith.  "I will defend this city to
save it, for Mine own sake, and for My servant David's sake."  The
sequel was one of the most startling catastrophes in history.  The
Assyrian hosts were destroyed in a single night, and Assyrian invasions
ceased.  Again, in a later generation, when the promise seemed at last
to have failed, and the Temple had fallen, the city was burnt and her
king and citizens in captivity, the prophets never waver in their
vision of a future restoration when sin has been repented and national
guilt expiated.  Zerubbabel and Joshua, Ezra and Nehemiah, Judas
Maccabæus and his descendants, restore and maintain Temple and city to
last till "the fulness of the time," when the true meaning of the
Davidic promises was revealed.

The sense of this supernatural continuance has left its mark on the
Psalms.  The rout of the Assyrian armies is commemorated in one at
least, the 76th:


  The proud are robbed, they have slept their sleep:
  And all the men whose hands were mighty have found nothing.
  At Thy rebuke, O God of Jacob:
  Both the chariot and horse are fallen.

The secret of victory preludes the Psalm.  Jerusalem is the seat of
God's special presence:

  At Salem is His tabernacle:
  And His dwelling in Sion.

The 46th may also refer to the same event.  The flood of heathen
invasion is breaking itself in vain against the walls of the city of

  God is in the midst of her, therefore shall she not be removed:
  God shall help her, and that right early.

The great historical Psalm, the 78th, speaks at its close of the hill
of Sion and the Temple "built there on high" as coeval with the earth
itself; its foundation is "like the ground which He hath made
continually."[5]  And the later {96} Psalms seem even to unite Sion and
Jerusalem and the sacred nation with the very eternity of God Himself:

  This shall be My rest for ever.
      *      *      *      *      *
  The Lord thy God, O Sion, shall be King for evermore.
      *      *      *      *      *
  Praise the Lord, O Jerusalem:
  Praise thy God, O Sion.
  For He hath made fast the bars of thy gates:
  And hath blessed thy children within thee.
          (cxxxii. 15, cxlvi. 10, cxlvii. 12, 13.)

The end of earthly Jerusalem, when it came, was no less significant
than her long continuance.  The double destruction of the city by the
Roman armies (A.D. 70 and A.D. 135) was consummated by the strangeness
of the failure of Julian the Apostate to rebuild and re-establish the
Temple; flames burst out from the foundations and the workmen fled in
terror.[6]  But long before this the Christian Church had recognised
that in her world-wide citizenship and her worship, confined no longer
{97} (as the Lord had foretold) either to Jerusalem or a mountain in
Samaria, she had inherited in fuller measure these promises of
continuance.  Had it not been said, when the great Apostle made his
confession of Christ's Divinity, "Upon this rock I will build My
Church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it"?  And in
this consciousness the Catholic Church rightly appropriated to herself
the songs of Sion's confidence.  Just as early Christian art set above
the altars the figure of the living Christ enthroned as the Eternal
King of the universe, so the Church has always known in her darkest
moments that her continuance is as certain as her Master's throne; and
that as He remains the same, though the heavens and the earth decay,
and are changed as a garment, the promise of the 102nd Psalm is hers
for ever:

  The children of Thy servants shall continue:
  And their seed snail stand fast in Thy sight.

Once again, the Psalmists feel that as Israel, the Church, is in a
sense partaker in God's own eternity, so she is, even on earth, a
shadow of His essential beauty, she appeals with His attractiveness to
the soul of man.  Hence the {98} Christian finds in the Psalter words
in which he may express his joy in his calling in the Church, his love
and delight in his heavenly citizenship; words which may also remind
him that, in spite of all the failures and littlenesses of the visible
Church, it is through her that he is in touch with the ideal and the

Thus in no mere partisan or ecclesiastical spirit we are invited in the
Psalms to express our love of the Catholic Church.  On Whit Sunday, the
Church's birthday, we take up the ancient strain of affection:

  The hill of Sion is a fair place, and the joy of the whole earth.

We gaze with awe upon her jewelled foundations and her jasper walls; we
wander with delight in her spacious golden streets:

  Walk about Sion, and go round about her:
  And tell the towers thereof.
  Mark well her bulwarks, set up her houses:[7]
  That ye may tell them that come after.
  For this God is our God for ever and ever:
  He shall be our guide unto death.


In another Psalm, the 122nd, one of the pilgrim-psalms recited of old
as the faithful drew near to Jerusalem, we contemplate with joy and
self-forgetfulness the ideal unity of the Church as the true centre of
the earth, and as "the seat of judgment" to which all this world's
shams and shadows must come sooner or later for their reformation or
their sentence:

  O pray for the peace of Jerusalem:
  They shall prosper that love thee.
  Peace be within thy walls:
  And plenteousness within thy palaces.
  For my brethren and companions' sakes:
  I will wish thee prosperity.
  Yea, because of the house of the Lord our God:
  I will seek to do thee good.

It is an aspiration that should find an echo in the heart of every
faithful son of the Church, especially in such "a day of trouble and of
rebuke and blasphemy" as our own.

Thus while we recognise in the Psalter the expression, put into our
lips by the Holy Spirit, of our own personal struggles and joys and
sorrows in the spiritual life, while we remember with awe and gratitude
that the {100} Eternal Son of God Himself here speaks and prays and
suffers as one of us, we shall find here also the voice of our
corporate consciousness, our life and worship as citizens even on earth
of that "Jerusalem which is above, which is the mother of us all."

And so as we conclude every Psalm in the Church's service with the
_Gloria_, with that confession of our faith which prophets and kings
would fain have known and knew not, let us lift up our hearts and give
glory to the Father, Who has revealed to us His Name; glory to the Son,
Who has vouchsafed in all things to be made like unto us His brethren;
glory to the Holy Ghost, Whose word and power in the Church is undying,
Who is still bringing forth from the ancient treasury old things which
are ever new.

  Gloria Patri, et Filio:
  Et Spiritui Sancto.
  Sicut erat in principio, et nunc, et semper:
  Et in sæcula sæculorum.

[1] The princes of the people are gathered together,
    To be the people of the God of Abraham.

[2] vi., xxxii., xxxviii., li., cii., cxxx., cxliii.

[3] "Ingemuit totus orbis et se Arianum esse miratus est" (S. Jerome).

[4] Evelyn's Diary: Dec. 25, 1657.

[5] The earth which He hath established for ever (R.V.).

[6] Gibbon, _Decline and Fall_, c. xxiii.

[7] "Consider her palaces" (R.V.).



A.  The extent to which the Psalms were used liturgically by the Jews
in Temple and Synagogue is not at all fully known.  The following list
of uses is interesting in itself, but probably does not by any means
cover the whole field.  And it seems certain, from the free and natural
way in which the Psalms are referred to in the New Testament, that,
even if a comparatively small number were used in the public services,
the Psalter must have been very familiar indeed to the pious Jew of our
Lord's time and have formed practically his book of private devotion.


_First day_.  Ps. xxiv.  The earth is the Lord's, etc.

_Second day_.  Ps. xlviii.  Great is the Lord.

_Third day_.  Ps. lxxxii.  God standeth in the congregation.

_Fourth day_.  Ps. xciv.  O Lord God, to Whom vengeance belongeth.


_Fifth day_.  Ps. lxxxi.  Sing we merrily unto God our strength.

_Sixth day_.  Ps. xciii.  The Lord is King.

_Sabbath day_.  Ps. xcii.  It is a good thing to give thanks.



_First day_.  Ps. cv.  O give thanks.

_Second day_.  Ps. xxix.  Bring unto the Lord.

_Third day_.  Ps. l. 16.  But unto the ungodly said God.

_Fourth day_.  Ps. xciv. 16.  Who will rise up with me.

_Fifth day_.  Ps. xciv. 8.  Take heed, ye unwise.

_Sixth day_.  Ps. lxxxi. 6.  I eased his shoulder.  Pss. cxx.-cxxxiv.
Songs of Degrees.

_Seventh day_.  Ps. lxxxii. 5.  They will not be learned.

NEW MOON OF SEVENTH OR SABBATICAL MONTH.  Ps. lxxxi.  Sing we merrily.

DEDICATION.  The Hallel, as at the Passover.

PRESENTATION OF FIRST-FRUITS.  Ps. cxxii.  I was glad.  Ps. xxx.  I
will magnify Thee, O Lord.

B.  The allusions to the singing of Psalms in the New Testament shew
that it was from the first a recognised Christian devotion, both in
public and private (Acts xvi. 25; 1 Cor. xiv. 26; Eph. v. 19; {103}
James v. 13).  This is borne out by the evidence of the Christian
Fathers (see, for example, S. Athanasius' _Epistle to Marcellinus_; S.
Aug. _Confess._ ix. 8; S. Jerome, Ep. xlvi.).  But it was no doubt the
rise of the monastic life in Egypt and its subsequent spread over the
whole Church in the fourth and fifth centuries that led by its
disciplined devotion to the systematic arrangement of the Psalter for
daily services and to its continuous recitation.  Many of the early
monks, indeed, recited the whole Psalter daily; but the Western use,
settled traditionally by S. Gregory the Great, aimed at a weekly
recitation, and this system in theory dominated the Breviary services
all through the Middle Ages.

The normal arrangement of the Psalter in the daily offices was, roughly
speaking, as follows:

At _Mattins_, Ps. i.-cix., divided into nine "Nocturns," three of which
were said on Sunday, and one on each of the following week-days,
beginning each day with the 95th, the Invitatory Psalm.

At _Lauds_, Pss. lxiii., lxvii., cxlviii.-cl., with certain other
varying Psalms.

At _Prime_, always Ps. liv. and the first four portions of the 119th,
and one varying Psalm.

At _Terce_, the next six portions of the 119th.

At _Sext_, the next six portions of the 119th.

At _None_, the last six portions of the 119th.

At _Vespers_, Pss. cx.-cxlvii., divided into seven portions, omitting
the 119th.

At _Compline_, iv., xxxi. 1-6, xci., cxxxiv.


Thus the bulk of the Psalms were said at the two offices which
corresponded most closely to our Morning and Evening Prayer; some few
were said daily, the 51st was said at every one of the offices, and the
others were said weekly.

But in practice a festival arrangement of the Psalms, in which a much
smaller number, and chiefly of the shorter Psalms, were recited, was
largely substituted for the normal or ferial use, thus justifying the
criticism of our Reformers, "Now of late time a few of them have been
daily said and the rest utterly omitted."

The following special uses are also interesting:


_Vespers_ (the "Placebo"): cxvi., cxx., cxxi., cxxx., cxxxviii.

_Mattins_ (the "Dirge"): v., vi., vii.; xxiii., xxv., xxvii., xl.,
xli., xlii.

_Lauds_: li., lxv., lxiii., cxlviii.-cl., cxlv.

PREPARATION FOR MASS: lxxxiv., lxxxv., lxxxvi., cxvi. 10., cxxx., xliii.


C.  Antiphons were originally verses sung as a refrain between each
verse of the Psalms, one side of the choir taking the former and the
other the latter.  The refrain varied at different seasons and
festivals.  An example of this early and more elaborate use survived in
the Breviary in the treatment of the Venite as an Invitatory Psalm.
But gradually, for the sake of brevity, this method {105} was
abandoned, and the normal use of antiphons in the Breviary was simply
after (or on festivals before and after) each Psalm or set of Psalms.
The advantage of the antiphon lay in the fact that it shewed at once
with what particular intention the Psalm was sung, as the same Psalm
naturally might be sung on many different occasions and with reference
to a different season or festival.  But the very complex nature of the
antiphons or "anthems" led the English Reformers to abandon them
altogether; "many times," as they said, "there was more business to
find out what should be read, than to read it when it was found out."
The only traces of antiphons left in the Prayer Book are: (1) "O
Sapientia," in the Kalendar on December 16, the first words of the
first of the "Greater Antiphons" to the Magnificat, which began on that
day and continued till Christmas Eve, each commencing with some
striking Old Testament title of the Messiah; (2) in the Litany, the
repetition of the words, "O Lord, arise," etc., shews that this is the
antiphon to the Psalm "O God, we have heard" (perhaps originally the
whole of Ps. xliv., but now one verse only); (3) the words "O Saviour
of the world," etc., in the Office for the Visitation of the Sick.  The
last is the best example: the antiphon connects the recitation of Ps.
lxxi. with the Passion of our Lord; the _intention_ of the Psalm is
thus shewn to be the association of our sufferings in sickness with
{106} the Cross of Christ (_cf._ the second exhortation in the same

D.  Helps to the study of the Psalter.

_Literal Meaning_:

Kirkpatrick, in the _Cambridge Bible_ (3 vols.).  The Introduction is
extremely useful, and an excellent list of the literature bearing on
the Psalter is also given.

Perowne, _The Book of Psalms_.

Cheyne, _The Book of Psalms_.

Barry, _Teacher's Prayer Book_.

_Mystical and Spiritual Meaning_:

Neale and Littledale, _Commentary on the Psalms_ (4 vols.).  This has a
very valuable Introduction on the Psalms as used in the offices of the
Church, and a dissertation (in vol. i.) on the mystical and literal
interpretation of the Psalms.

Walpole, _The People's Psalter_.


Prothero, _The Psalms in Human Life_.

Marson, _The Psalms at Work_.

Church, _The Sacred Poetry of Early Religions_, in _The Gifts of
Civilisation_.  _The Discipline of the Christian Character_, iii.

Robertson Smith, _The Old Testament in the Jewish Church_, lect. vii.

Orr, _The Problem of the Old Testament_, c. xii.

Alexander (Archbishop), _The Witness of the Psalms to Christ_.



_Brief Suggestions as to the Christian Use of each Psalm_

The following suggestions, which follow the lines of the preceding
lectures, do not claim any special authority, except in cases noted,
where the New Testament or the Church's actual use has appropriated a
Psalm to some particular Christian application.

PSALM i.  _Beatus vir_

The Church's witness to the blessedness of the life of holiness, based
on obedience to the revealed Word of God (the great example of which is
the life of Christ Himself); with which is contrasted the eternal
failure of the ungodly.

PSALM ii.  _Quare fremuerunt gentes?_

Acts iv. 25-28.  Easter Day, morning (Prayer Book)

The futile warfare of the princes of this world against Christ and His
Church.  The certainty {108} of Christ's victory and His universal
kingdom, as seen in His Resurrection and Ascension.

PSALM iii.  _Domine, quid multiplicati?_

[Introit for Second Mass on Easter Day, in 1549 Prayer Book]

Christ's victory in His Resurrection over all His enemies; the
blessedness of His Church.

PSALM iv.  _Cum invocarem_

The deliverance of Christ from the contradiction of sinners.  The
Church's certainty of salvation in Christ, both in this life and in
that which is to come, contrasted with the doubts and uncertain riches
of the world.

[One of the Compline Psalms, in which the Christian commends himself to
sleep in Christ.]

PSALM v.  _Verba mea auribus_

A Psalm illustrating the life of prayer, public and private; witnessing
to prayer and meditation as the source of inward strength and guidance,
both in the life of Christ and in that of His people, in the face of
this world's treachery and cruelty.

[One of the Psalms for the Dirge (whence it derives its name, ver. 8,
"Dirige"), referring to God's leading the departed soul through the
attacks of evil spirits to its rest in Him.]


PSALM vi.  _Domine, ne in furore_

Ash Wednesday, morning (Prayer Book)

The prayer of the human soul suffering the temporal punishments, bodily
and mental, of sin.  Christ Himself endured these sufferings to the
utmost, not for Himself, but for His people, and in this sense it, with
the other penitential Psalms, may be called a Psalm of the Incarnation.

PSALM vii.  _Domine, Deus meus_

The declaration of the Innocency of Christ against the persecution and
treachery of His enemies; His appeal to the Father's justice.

PSALM viii.  _Domine, Dominus noster_

Heb. ii.  Ascension Day, morning (Prayer Book)

The glory of God's Name (or revelation of Himself) in nature and in the
Incarnation.  The triumph and universal empire of Christ as the Son of
Man, and the Second Adam.

PSALM ix.  _Confitebor tibi_

Thanksgiving for the triumph of God's righteousness in Christ, which is
the pledge of the future destruction of all evil.

PSALM x.  _Ut quid, Domine?_

Continues the thought of Ps. ix., and prays for the manifestation of
God's righteousness in Christ, {110} in view of the continuance of
evil, the apparent immunity of the wicked, and their unceasing warfare
against the Church.

PSALM xi.  _In Domino confido_

A Psalm of the Passion of Christ; His faith in the Father's
righteousness, and in the ultimate overthrow of the wicked.

PSALM xii.  _Salvum me fac_

A prayer of Christ and His Church against the evil tongues of the
wicked; with these are contrasted the purity and certainty of the
Divine revelation, "the words of the Lord."

PSALM xiii.  _Usque quo, Domine?_

A prayer of Christ and His faithful ones in view of the approach of

PSALM xiv.  _Dixit insipiens_

Rom. ii. 10-18

The judgment of the world's unbelief, contrasted with the Church's
faith, and her hope in the coming of Christ.

PSALM xv.  _Domine, quis habitabit?_

Ascension Day, morning (Prayer Book)

The human perfections of Christ, enthroned in heaven as the Son of Man.


Also a picture of the saintly life, in union with Christ, Who is God's
tabernacle among men (Rev. xxi. 3).

PSALM xvi.  _Conserva me, Domine_

Acts ii. 25-28.  [Introit for Easter Day, Prayer Book of 1549]

Christ's devotion to the Father; His preservation through death and the
grave; His Resurrection and eternal joy at the right hand of the Father.

PSALM xvii.  _Exaudi, Domine_

A prayer of Christ and His Church against the temptations of the world,
in view of the hope of the Resurrection and the Life everlasting.

PSALM xviii.  _Diligam te, Domine_

The triumph of Christ (under the figure of David); His universal empire.

PSALM xix.  _Coeli enanant_

Rom. x. 18.  Christmas Day, morning (Prayer Book)

The Church's thanksgiving for God's Word in Nature, in the Incarnation,
in the Bible; and her prayer for faithfulness.


PSALM xx.  _Exaudiat te Dominus_

King's Accession (Prayer Book)

The Church's witness to Christ her King as He goes forth to battle in
the power of His finished sacrifice.  Suitable also as a prayer for a
Christian ruler, whose strength is in Christ.

PSALM xxi.  _Domine, in virtute tua_

Ascension Day, morning (Prayer Book)

The Church's joy in the triumph of Christ; in the Father's answer to
His prayer, and in His glorious coronation as the Son of Man.

PSALM xxii.  _Deus, Deus meus_

Matt. xxvii. 35-46 (with parallels in other Evangelists), Heb. ii. 12.
Good Friday, morning (Prayer Book)

Christ's prayer in His Passion and Crucifixion; His prophecy of the
calling of His Church, and of the Eucharist.  (See above, pp. 77, 78.)

PSALM xxiii.  _Dominus regit me_

John x. 1-16, 26-29

The Church's confession of faith in Christ the Good Shepherd, and in
His sacramental gifts.

PSALM xxiv.  _Domini est terra_

Ascension Day, evening (Prayer Book)

The joy of the Church and of the angels in the Ascension of Christ, the
King of Glory.


PSALM xxv.  _Ad te, Domine, levavi_

A confession of faith in the Name of God; the Church's prayer for
deliverance from temptation and adversity.

PSALM xxvi.  _Judica me, Domine_

A prayer of Christ as He approaches His Passion; and of the Christian
priest when about to offer the Holy Eucharist.

PSALM xxvii.  _Dominus illuminatio_

The hope of Christ and His Church in the Fatherhood of God; a prophecy
of the Resurrection and the Holy Eucharist (vv. 6, 7).

PSALM xxviii. _Ad te, Domine_

The prayer of Christ for deliverance from His enemies; and for His
Church (ver. 10).

PSALM xxix.  _Afferte Domino_

The Church's thanksgiving for the sovereignty of Christ over all the
powers of nature, and over His Church.

PSALM xxx.  _Exaltabo te, Domine_

A thanksgiving of Christ and His Church for the Resurrection.


PSALM xxxi.  _In te, Domine, speravi_

S. Luke xxiii. 46

Christ's prayer in His Passion and Crucifixion; His exhortation to His
Church (vv. 26, 27).

PSALM xxxii.  _Beati, quorum_

Rom. iv. 6-8.  Ash Wednesday, morning (Prayer Book)

The Church's confession of sin, and the blessedness of forgiveness
through faith in Christ.  (See on Ps. vi.)

PSALM xxxiii.  _Exultate, justi_

The Church's thanksgiving for creation and redemption, and for her own
exceeding blessedness in being called to be the people of the Lord.

PSALM xxxiv.  _Benedicam Domino_

A thanksgiving of Christ for His Resurrection.  His call to His Church
to obedience, to holiness, to courage.

PSALM xxxv.  _Judica, Domine_

A prayer of Christ against the persecution and false witness of His
enemies, and on behalf of those who love Him.

PSALM xxxvi.  _Dixit infustus_

The Church's witness to the awfulness of sin; {115} her confession of
hope in the blessedness of the life eternal in contrast with the doom
of the ungodly.

PSALM xxxvii.  _Noli cemulari_

A Psalm of a proverbial character; the testimony of the Church's
experience of the justice of God, in spite of the apparent prosperity
of the wicked: it expresses the _restfulness_ of the life of faith.

_Cf._ ver. ii with Matt. v. 5.

PSALM xxxviii.  _Domine, ne in furore_

Ash Wednesday, morning (Prayer Book)

A Psalm of Christ bearing in loneliness and silence the burden of human
sin, confessing it on man's behalf to the Father, and praying for our

PSALM xxxix.  _Dixi, custodiam_

Burial of the Dead (Prayer Book)

Continues in some respects the tone of the previous Psalm.  It may be
regarded as a Psalm of Christ bearing the sorrow of man's mortality,
and interceding on man's behalf with the Father.

PSALM xl.  _Expectans expectavi_

Heb. x. 5-10.  Good Friday, morning (Prayer Book)

A Psalm of Christ's Incarnation, Passion, Sin-bearing, and
Resurrection; it expresses the {116} secret of His Atonement (see
above, pp. 61, 62) and His fulfilment of O.T. prophecy (ver. 10).

PSALM xli.  _Beatus qui intelligit_

John xiii. 18

A Psalm of Christ's compassion; and of the treachery of His enemies,
especially of Judas.

PSALM xlii.  _Quemadmodum_

[Introit for Burial of the Dead, Prayer Book of 1549]

A Psalm of Christ's human soul in His earthly pilgrimage, and in the
prospect of death; His desire to return to the Father.  Hence also
suitable for the Christian soul in sickness and dying.

PSALM xliii.  _Judica me, Deus_

A continuation of the previous Psalm.  Christ speaks in it to the
Father as He approaches His Passion, and contemplates with joy the
sacrifice He is about to offer for man.  Hence this Psalm has long been
used in the Church as the immediate preparation of the Priest for
offering the Holy Eucharist.

PSALM xliv.  _Deus, auribus_

Rom. viii. 36

The appeal of the suffering and persecuted {117} Church to Christ; her
confession of faithfulness to that which He has entrusted to her

PSALM xlv.  _Enructavit cor meum_

Heb. i.  Christmas Day, morning (Prayer Book)

The Church celebrates the Incarnation under the figure of a royal
marriage.  The bridegroom is Christ Himself, described in vv. 3-9; the
bride, the King's daughter, is the Church destined to spread into all
lands.  The "daughter of Tyre" is symbolical of the heathen world
coming to Christ.  The "queen" (or queen-mother) of ver. 10 has often
been interpreted of the Blessed Virgin.

PSALM xlvi.  _Deus nosier refugium_

A Psalm of the Church's confidence: she is conscious of the presence of
Christ and the Holy Spirit (ver. 4, R.V.) within her; and confesses
that this is her eternal strength amidst the warfare and tumult of the

PSALM xlvii.  _Omnes gentes, plaudite_

Ascension Day, morning (Prayer Book)

The joy of the Church in the glorious Ascension of Christ; and in His
universal sovereignty, which all the world will ultimately acknowledge.

PSALM xlviii.  _Magnus Dominus_

Whitsun Day, morning (Prayer Book)

The joy of the Church in her ideal beauty and {118} her steadfastness;
and her sure hope of ultimate victory over all the powers of this world.

[The Psalm should be compared both with the promise of Christ in Matt.
xvi. 18 and the picture of the perfected Church in Rev. xxi., xxii.]

PSALM xlix.  _Audite hæc, omnes_

The Church's meditation upon the vanity of human riches and greatness
in view of death; the need of man's redemption through Christ alone
(vv. 7, 8); the certainty of the resurrection of the faithful through
the Resurrection of Christ.

PSALM 1.  _Deus deorum_

The second advent of Christ as the final Judge of the world, and
especially of His Church.

PSALM li.  _Miserere mei, Deus_

Ash Wednesday (Commination Service)

The Church's confession of sin, and of failure to fulfil her great
vocation in the world; her prayer to Christ for forgiveness and
restoration.  (See on Ps. vi.)

PSALM lii.  _Quid gloriaris?_

The Church's challenge to "the prince of this world" and to Antichrist;
and the confession of her own eternal hope in Christ.


PSALM liii.  _Dixit insipiens_

See on Ps. xiv.

PSALM liv.  _Deus, in nomine_

Good Friday, morning (Prayer Book)

A prayer of Christ in His Passion, and His self-consecration to the

PSALM lv.  _Exaudi, Deus_

A prayer of Christ in His loneliness and desolation, amidst the
treachery of His enemies and especially of His false disciple.

PSALM lvi.  _Miserere mei, Deus_

Christ's complaint to the Father against the contradiction of sinners;
His confidence in the Father's word, and His sure hope in His

PSALM lvii.  _Miserere mei, Deus_

Easter Day, morning (Prayer Book)

The Psalm of Christ "glorified" through His Passion and Resurrection.

PSALM lviii.  _Si vere utique_

Christ's judgment upon sinners; the vindication of Divine justice.


PSALM lix.  _Eripe me de inimicis_

A prayer of Christ in His Passion against the malice of His enemies;
His denunciation of their impenitence; His hope of the Resurrection and
the final vindication of Divine justice.

PSALM lx.  _Deus, repulisti nos_

A prayer of the scattered and persecuted Church, and the answer of the
triumphant Christ (under the figure of David's victories).

PSALM lxi.  _Exaudi, Deus_

A prayer of the scattered Church, praying to be established on the rock
of Christ; her confession of faith in the eternal royalty of Christ.

PSALM lxii.  _Nonne Deo?_

The Church's confidence in Christ her rock in contrast with the
falsehood of the world and the deceitfulness of riches; her faith in
the ultimate manifestation of the Divine justice.

PSALM lxiii.  _Deus, Deus meus_

A prayer of the exiled Church; her joy in worship, and her confidence
in the sovereignty of Christ.

PSALM lxiv.  _Exaudi, Deus_

A prayer of Christ in His Passion; the {121} prediction of the
overthrow of the Jewish nation, and the continual testimony of this
overthrow to the truth of Christ.

PSALM lxv.  _Te decet hymnus_

The Church's hope of her heavenly inheritance in Christ, and of the
regeneration of the earth by the river of His spiritual gifts.  The
Psalm seems to be a forecast of the joy and prosperity of "the new
heaven and the new earth."

PSALM lxvi.  _Jubilate Deo_

Thanksgiving after a Storm at Sea (Prayer Book)

The thanksgiving of the Church in the conversion of the world; she
looks forward to the end of this world and her deliverance from its
sufferings, and contemplates her entrance into the eternal worship of

PSALM lxvii.  _Deus misereatur_

Alternative to Nunc Dimittis; Holy Matrimony (Prayer Book)

The joy of the Church in the conversion of the world to Christ; her
hope of God's blessing upon all her works.

PSALM lxviii.  _Exurgat Deus_

Whitsun Day, morning (Prayer Book)

The triumphant procession-hymn of the Catholic {122} Church in her
progress through the world; rejoicing in the gifts of the ascended
Christ, and in the hope of the conversion of the heathen.

PSALM lxix.  _Salvum me fac_

Matt. xxvii. 34; John ii. 17, xix. 28, 29; Rom. xv. 3.  Good Friday,
evening (Prayer Book)

A Psalm of the Passion and Crucifixion of Christ; a denunciation of
Divine vengeance upon the Jews; concluding with a prophecy of the
calling and continuance of the Church.

PSALM lxx.  _Deus in adjutorium_

A Psalm similar in tone to the preceding; it may be applied to Christ
in His Passion, or to the faithful ones who suffer with Him, and look
to Him as Redeemer.

PSALM lxxi.  _In te, Domine, speravi_

Visitation of the Sick (Prayer Book)

A Psalm of Christ sharing our human life with its vicissitudes and
troubles--born of Mary, increasing in wisdom and stature, suffering
persecution, proclaiming the Gospel, dying, and rising "from the deep
of the earth again" (ver. 18).  Consequently it is a Psalm of the
saintly life in its conformity to Christ,


PSALM lxxii.  _Deus, indicium_

Matt. ii. 1-11

The Church's joy in Christ, as the Son of David and the King of
humanity.  The peace and justice of His Kingdom are described, its
universality and eternity.

PSALM lxxiii.  _Quam bonus Israel!_

A Psalm of the inward struggle and victory of _faith_.  Christ Himself
may be heard speaking in it, as He is "the author and finisher of our
faith," and in His human soul fought for us the battle of faith.  So
the Psalm becomes the Church's testimony to the individual believer of
that ultimate answer to the trials of faith which is found in union
with God through Christ.

PSALM lxxiv.  _Ut quid, Deus?_

A Psalm of the Church, persecuted and despoiled, appealing to the
eternal sovereignty of Christ over nature and man, as it has been
revealed in all the history of the Church, both under the old covenant
and the new.

PSALM lxxv.  _Confitebimur tibi_

A dialogue, as it were, between Christ and His Church.  He asserts His
sovereignty over the world, His justice, and its ultimate vindication.


PSALM lxxvi.  _Notus in Judæa_

A Psalm of the victory of Christ; of "the wrath of the Lamb," and the
final judgment of the world.

PSALM lxxvii.  _Voce mea ad Dominum_

Like Ps. lxxiii., a Psalm of the struggles of faith.  The thought of
God's past work in His Church as revealed in history, and of His
eternal years, is the Church's consolation when He seems to hide His

PSALM lxxviii.  _Attendite, popule_

Matt. xiii. 35; _cf._ xxiii. 37

The voice of Christ recounting the history of His Church, His patience
and mercy with backslidings, His many deliverances; ending with His own
Incarnation and personal rule of His Church, under the figure of
David's call to the throne.

PSALM lxxix.  _Deus, venerunt_

A prayer of the Church, especially of the martyrs and confessors, in
time of persecution and bloodshed.

PSALM lxxx.  _Qui regis Israel_

A prayer of the Church when the light of God's presence waxes dim, when
Christ's vineyard is broken into by secular oppression.  The Church
{125} prays that Christ's power may again be made known (ver. 17) and
that she herself may be converted.

PSALM lxxxi.  _Exultate Deo_

The Church's joy in her past deliverances; the warning voice of Christ
(ver. 6 onwards) shewing that the Church's own failures in loyalty are
the cause of her oppressions.  Greater faithfulness would have brought
deliverance, and greater joy in Christ's sacramental gifts (ver. 17).

PSALM lxxxii.  _Deus stetit_

John x. 34-6

The voice of Christ bearing witness to the ideal greatness of man, and
to man's failure in his responsibility as God's vicegerent in the
world, especially in the administration of justice.  He Himself is set
forth as the true and perfect Judge of the world.

PSALM lxxxiii.  _Deus, quis similis?_

A prayer of the Church against the confederacy of her enemies.  She
prays that their defeat may lead to their conversion to Christ.

PSALM lxxxiv.  _Quam dilecta!_

A Psalm of the Church in her pilgrimage through this world.  She
expresses especially her joy in {126} public worship, the comfort which
the hope of the heavenly worship brings amidst human sorrows, and her
eternal hope in Christ.

PSALM lxxxv.  _Benedixisti, Domine_

Christmas Day, morning (Prayer Book)

A Psalm of the Church's joy in the Incarnation, as the proof of
forgiveness for the past, and the beginning of a new and better world.

PSALM lxxxvi.  _Inclina, Domine_

A Psalm of Christ and of the Christian soul, renewing the dedication of
self to God, praying for strength against the trials of the world, and
for the manifestation to the world of God's presence with those who
love Him.

PSALM lxxxvli.  _Fundamenta ejus_

A Psalm describing the catholicity of the Church, and the new birth of
Baptism whereby members of all nations become her citizens and find in
her the source of all joy and refreshment.

PSALM lxxxviii.  _Domine Deus_

Good Friday, evening (Prayer Book)

A Psalm of Christ's desolation, the darkness on the Cross, His death
and burial and descent into hell.


PSALM lxxxix.  _Misericordias Domini_

Christmas Day, evening (Prayer Book)

The Church's praise for the promises of the Incarnation, and their
fulfilment in the line of David.  The certainty of the eternal reign of
Christ and the preservation of His Church.  At ver. 37 the tone changes
to prayer respecting the present eclipse of Christ's glory, and the
failures of His Church.  The Psalm ends, as it were, with the appeal of
Christ Himself to the Father (49-50) for His suffering Church.

PSALM xc.  _Domine, refugium_

Burial of the Dead (Prayer Book)

The Psalm of the Church's hope in the eternity of God, and the
unfailing nature of His purpose to restore man in Christ, in contrast
with man's mortality, his short life and earthly failure.

PSALM xci.  _Qui habitat_

A Psalm of the trust of Christ and of the Christian soul in the
providence of God, in the continual ministry of the angels, and in the
final discomfiture of the powers of evil.

PSALM xcii.  _Bonum est confiteri_

A thanksgiving of Christ for His Resurrection and for the eternal hope
of His Church.


PSALM xciii.  _Dominus regnavit_

A Psalm of the sovereignty of the ascended Christ; His supremacy over
nature and the storms of this world.

PSALM xciv.  _Deus ultionum_

A prayer of the Church for the second coming of Christ, and the
manifestation of the Divine justice; ending (ver. 12, etc.) with the
expression of the Church's patience, her acceptance of tribulation, and
her sure confidence in the coming of Christ.

PSALM xcv.  _Venite, exultemus_

Heb. iii. 7-iv. 11.  Morning Prayer, daily (Prayer Book)

The Church's prelude to worship: the expression of her joy and trust in
God's creation and preservation; her daily warning against failure
through unbelief (like Israel of old) to enter into God's rest.

PSALM xcvi.  _Cantate Domino_

The Church's outburst of joy in the universal sovereignty of Christ.
She calls to the heathen world to acknowledge Him, and looks forward
with rapture to His second Advent.

PSALM xcvii.  _Dominus regnavit_

The Church's declaration to the world of the sovereignty of Christ, and
of His second Advent.  {129} She reminds herself of the moral fruits of
Christ's kingdom, and of the Christian joy which springs from His

PSALM xcviii.  _Cantate Domino_

Alternative to Magnificat (Prayer Book)

The triumph song of the Church in the redeeming work of Christ, in
which she calls all nature and the heathen world to join.

PSALM xcix.  _Dominus regnavit_

Again, a Psalm of the sovereignty of Christ.  The Church sings of the
essential holiness of His kingdom, of His mercy and His chastisements,
and calls on the world to worship Him.

PSALM c.  _Jubilate Deo_

Alternative to Benedictus (Prayer Book)

The Church's triumphant call to all the world to worship with her; she
confesses her dependence on Christ, and the unfailing truth of His

PSALM ci.  _Misericordiam et judicium_

King's Accession (Prayer Book)

A Psalm of the Church testifying her desire and endeavour to imitate
both the mercy and the justice of Christ, and to exercise just
discipline over her members, remembering the judgment-seat of {130}
Christ.  A Psalm also appropriate to a Christian ruler, as the minister
of Christ.

PSALM cii.  _Domine exaudi_

Heb. i. 10-12.  Ash Wednesday, evening (Prayer Book)

This may be regarded in part as appropriate to our Lord weeping over
Jerusalem; in a wider sense it is a Psalm of the faithful sorrowing
over the decay of the Church, offering their penitence, looking forward
to restoration, and trusting in the changelessness of Christ, Who
remains the same though earth and heaven pass away, and has promised
the like continuance to His Church.

PSALM ciii. _Benedic, anima mea_

A Psalm of the Church's thanksgiving for God's forgiveness in Christ,
for His love in the past and the certainty of its continuance in the
future.  Angels and saints and the powers of nature are summoned to
join in this thanksgiving.

PSALM civ.  _Benedic, anima mea_

Whitsun Day, evening (Prayer Book)

The Church's witness to the immanence of the Word in all creation; she
recognises this in the beauty, the order, the preservation of all forms
of varied life.  Especially in the renewal of natural life (vv. 30-5)
she recognises and praises {131} the life-giving activity of the Holy
Spirit, and sees in it a prophecy of the restoration of all things in
the Resurrection to their first perfection, and the final overthrow of

PSALM cv.  _Confitemini Domino_

A Psalm of the Church's thanksgiving as she reviews her history and the
providence which has preserved her in all vicissitudes, and considers
the eternal inheritance which is the reward of obedience.

PSALM cvi.  _Confitemini Domino_

Also an historical Psalm, in which the Church in time of exile and
persecution recalls God's providence, and her many failures; she places
her trust in the intercession of Christ, of Whom Moses was a type, and
prays for her restoration.

PSALM cvii. _Confitemini Domino_

Thanksgiving after a Storm at Sea (Prayer Book)

The Church celebrates the age-long compassion of God towards the
wanderer, the prisoner, the sufferer, as seen in the salvation of His
Church, and in the Incarnation of the Word (ver. 20).  The refrain (vv.
8, 15, 21, 31) exhorts to thanksgiving, and especially to the offering
of the Holy Eucharist (ver. 22).


PSALM cviii.  _Paratum cor meum_

Ascension Day, evening (Prayer Book)

A Psalm of Christ glorified in His Resurrection, praying for His Church
and foretelling His future victories (under the figure of David's
wars).  The last three verses seem to be the prayer of the Church and
the voice of her confidence of ultimate triumph in Christ.

PSALM cix.  _Deus laudem_

Acts i. 20

A Psalm of Christ's judgment upon impenitent sinners; His prayer for
Himself in His Passion, and for His Church in whose sufferings at the
hands of sinners He Himself is crucified afresh.

PSALM cx.  _Dixit Dominus_

Matt. xxii. 41-5 (parallels in Mark and Luke); Acts ii. 34, 35; Heb. i.
13, v. 6-vii.  Christmas Day, evening (Prayer Book)

The Church's witness to the Divinity of Christ, to His eternal
Priesthood, His warfare, sufferings, and victory.

PSALM cxi.  _Confitebor tibi_

Easter Day, morning (Prayer Book)

A Psalm of Christ praising the Father for His Resurrection; in which
His Church also joins, commemorating the Eucharist (ver. 5), the new
and {133} eternal covenant, and the sacredness of the truth committed
to her keeping.

PSALM cxii.  _Beatus vir_

The Church's testimony to the blessedness of the life of faith, hope,
and charity, of which she has seen the perfect example in Christ

PSALM cxiii. _Laudate, pueri_

Easter Day, evening (Prayer Book)

The world-wide joy of the Church in the Catholic faith of the
Incarnation, by which man is exalted from the dust of Adam's fall, and
is no longer "subject to vanity," but made equal to the angels.

PSALM cxiv.  _In exitu Israel_

Easter Day, evening (Prayer Book)

The Church's song of deliverance through the mighty power of the
Resurrection.  A Psalm also of the Christian soul delivered from the
Egypt of this world, and crossing the Jordan of death to the joy of the
heavenly Canaan.

PSALM cxv.  _Non nobis, Domine_

A continuation of the previous Psalm: the Church's joy in the living
God, in Whom she hopes for life eternal; she calls upon priests and
people alike to praise Him.


PSALM cxvi.  _Dilexi, quoniam_

Churching of Women (Prayer Book)

A thanksgiving of Christ and His Church for the Resurrection; with
reference especially to the offering of the Eucharist, and the joy of
Holy Communion, and also to the final rest and thanksgiving of the
saints in Paradise.

PSALM cxvii.  _Laudate Dominum_

The Church's call to the heathen world to praise God by conversion to
the faith of Christ.

PSALM cxviii.  _Confitemini Domino_

Matt. xxi. 9, 42, xxiii. 39 (with parallels in Mark and Luke).  Easter
Day, evening (Prayer Book)

The great Psalm of thanksgiving by Christ and His Church for the
Resurrection, the victory over death and the judgment of the prince of
this world.  A Psalm especially appropriate for Sunday, and as a
prelude to the Church's worship in the Holy Eucharist.

[It is the special Psalm for Sunday at Prime in the Breviary.]

PSALM cxix.  _Beati immaculati_

The characteristic Psalm of the Catholic Church, in which she expresses
her loyalty to and joy in {135} all that God has revealed and
commanded.  It is animated throughout by the spirit of _sonship_, of
which the perfect realisation is seen in Christ Himself.  It may
therefore be regarded as a Psalm of Christ, with Whom the Church
associates herself in its recitation.

PSALM cxx.  _Ad Dominum_

A Psalm of the pilgrim Church praying for peace and deliverance from
the ceaseless and bitter warfare of this world.

PSALM cxxi.  _Levavi oculos_

Accession Service (Prayer Book)

A Psalm of the Church's pilgrimage through this world's perils, as she
journeys towards the eternal hills and the city of God.

PSALM cxxii.  _Lætatus sum_

The joy of the Christian soul in the Catholic Church and in Catholic
worship.  The hope of the Church in her pilgrimage towards the heavenly
Jerusalem and the throne of Christ.

PSALM cxxiii.  _Ad te levavi oculos meos_

A Psalm of the pilgrim Church amidst this world's scorn and contempt,
expressing her absolute dependence upon Christ.


PSALM cxxiv.  _Nisi quid Dominus_

Part of the Hymn of Thanksgiving for a Victory at Sea (Prayer Book)

A Psalm of the pilgrim Church's deliverance from the storms and waves
of this troublesome world; her unshaken confidence in Christ.

PSALM cxxv.  _Qui confidunt_

The confidence of the pilgrim Church in the unceasing protection of
Christ against the attacks of an evil world, and the apostasy of false

PSALM cxxvi.  _In convertendo_

The joy of the pilgrim Church in her great deliverance from the
captivity of this world; her hope that through tribulation she will be
made perfect.

PSALM cxxvii.  _Nisi Dominus_

Churching of Women (Prayer Book)

A Psalm of the pilgrim Church confessing that her progress and her
enlargement cannot be the fruit of human care and labour, but of the
grace of Christ only.

PSALM cxxviii.  _Beati omnes_

Holy Matrimony (Prayer Book)

A Psalm of the pilgrim Church celebrating the consecration of human
life and labour through the Incarnation.


PSALM cxxix.  _Sæpe expugnaverunt_

A Psalm of the warfare and persecutions of the pilgrim Church, and of
the vanity and fruitlessness of the attacks of her enemies.

PSALM cxxx.  _De profundis_

Ash Wednesday, evening (Prayer Book)

A Psalm of the sorrows, the ceaseless watching, and the undying hope of
the pilgrim Church.  Especially appropriate to the souls of departed
Christians, the Church Expectant, who wait for the second Advent.

PSALM cxxxi.  _Domine, non est_

A Psalm of the pilgrim Church expressing her humility, her submission
to revelation, her unceasing trust in Christ.

PSALM cxxxii.  _Memento, Domine_

Christmas Day, evening (Prayer Book)

A Psalm in which the pilgrim Church joyfully commemorates before God
the Incarnation of His Son, and His age-long indwelling within her; and
His gift in the Eucharist (ver. 16); and expresses her faith in the
eternal sovereignty of Christ.

PSALM cxxxiii.  _Ecce, quam bonum!_

A Psalm in which the pilgrim Church expresses her joy in her essential
unity, the gift of the unction {138} of the Holy Spirit poured upon her
from the ascended Christ.

PSALM cxxxiv.  _Ecce nunc_

A Psalm of the pilgrim Church as she contemplates her entry into the
eternal sanctuary, the heavenly city of Christ, and the fellowship of
the angels in their unceasing praise.

PSALM cxxxv.  _Laudate Nomen_

The Church's thanksgiving for her calling in Christ, and the eternal
rule of Christ over nature and man; she expresses her confidence in the
living Christ Who dwells within her, in contrast with this world's

PSALM cxxxvi.  _Confitemini_

A Psalm of the Church's thanksgiving for the eternal mercy of Christ,
as seen in creation, and in her own history and deliverances, and also
in His abiding gift of the Eucharist (ver. 25).

PSALM cxxxvii.  _Super flumina_

A Psalm of the sorrows of the Church in her captivity in this world,
where she is persecuted and misunderstood.  She expresses her loyalty
to her heavenly calling, her desire for "Jerusalem which is above," and
her warfare with Babylon, for whose overthrow she confidently waits.


PSALM cxxxviii.  _Confitebor tibi_

A Psalm of Christ and His saints, giving praise for the Resurrection,
the hope of the conversion of the world, the Church's final
deliverance, and the "redemption of the body."

PSALM cxxxix.  _Domine, probasti_

A Psalm of the creature to the Creator, celebrating His omnipresence,
His wisdom, His claim to love; praying for sincerity and the gift of
perseverance.  It is appropriate to Christ in His sacred manhood, in
which He is "inferior to the Father" (Athanasian Creed); and therefore
also a Psalm of the Church in which the human body and soul are
regenerate and consecrated by the Incarnation.

PSALM cxl.  _Eripe me, Domine_

A Psalm of Christ's warfare and Passion; pronouncing the overthrow and
judgment of the wicked, and the eternal continuance of His Church.

PSALM cxli.  _Domine, clamavi_

A Psalm of the Church's devotion to Christ; her humility in accepting
rebuke and tribulation; her unceasing spirit of prayer.

PSALM cxlii.  _Voce mea ad Dominum_

A Psalm of Christ's prayer to the Father in His {140} Passion and
Death, and His longing for the gathering together of His Church to
Himself as the fruit of His Resurrection.

PSALM cxliii.  _Domine, exaudi_

Ash Wednesday, evening (Prayer Book)

A Psalm of prayer for those who suffer with Christ; of preparation for
death, and hope of the Resurrection, through the gift of the Holy

PSALM cxliv.  _Benedictus Dominus_

A Psalm of the triumph of Christ (under the figure of David), and of
the eternal blessedness of His Church through Him.

PSALM cxlv.  _Exaltabo te, Deus_

Whitsun Day, evening (Prayer Book)

A Psalm of the everlasting joy of the Church in Christ her King, in the
Holy Eucharist (ver. 7), in the Communion of Saints, and in the
certainty of the answer to prayer.

PSALM cxlvi.  _Lauda, anima mea_

Like the preceding, a Psalm of the Church's thanksgiving for the
eternal sovereignty of Christ in its mercy and its judgment.

PSALM cxlvii.  _Laudate Dominum_

The joy of the Church in her calling and preservation {141} by Christ,
in the Gospel committed to her trust, and in the truth that all things
temporal as well as eternal are hers in Christ, Who is Lord of all.

PSALM cxlviii.  _Laudate Dominum_

The Church's call to the angels, to all the powers of nature, and to
all estates of men to give thanks to Christ, with her.

PSALM cxlix.  _Cantate Domino_

A Psalm of the Communion of Saints, in which the living and departed
(ver. 5) unite to praise Christ their King, and ascribe to Him their
victory over the powers of this world.

PSALM cl.  _Laudate Dominum_

The eternal song of praise of the Church militant and triumphant, in
which man's powers and development are consecrated to their true end,
the giving of glory to the eternal Trinity.



  PSALM            PAGE

  I. . . . . . . . 9, 107
  II.  . . . . . . 1, 17, 45, 107
  III. . . . . . . 108
  IV.  . . . . . . 103, 108
  V. . . . . . . . 104, 108
  VI.  . . . . . . 86, 104, 109
  VII. . . . . . . 104, 109
  VIII.  . . . . . 54, 69, 109
  IX.  . . . . . . 9, 109
  X. . . . . . . . 8, 16, 85, 109
  XI.  . . . . . . 110
  XII. . . . . . . 110
  XIII.  . . . . . 110
  XIV. . . . . . . 110
  XV.  . . . . . . 69-70, 110
  XVI. . . . . . . 2, 20, 67, 111
  XVII.  . . . . . 16, 68, 111
  XVIII. . . . . . 23, 46, 111
  XIX. . . . . . . 9, 111
  XX.  . . . . . . 112
  XXI. . . . . . . 70, 112
  XXII.  . . . . . 23, 56, 57, 59, 77, 78, 83, 112
  XXIII. . . . . . 104, 112
  XXIV.  . . . . . 60, 101, 112
  XXV. . . . . . . 9, 10, 113
  XXVI.  . . . . . 113
  XXVII. . . . . . 104, 113
  XXVIII.  . . . . 113
  XXIX.  . . . . . 102, 113
  XXX. . . . . . . 102, 113
  XXXI.  . . . . . 57, 103, 114
  XXXII. . . . . . 86, 114
  XXXIII.  . . . . 28, 114
  XXXIV. . . . . . 28, 114
  XXXV.  . . . . . 37, 114
  XXXVI. . . . . . 114
  XXXVII.  . . . . 28, 115
  XXXVIII. . . . . 86, 115
  XXXIX. . . . . . 115
  XL.  . . . . . . 10, 54, 55, 60, 61-3, 104, 115
  XLI. . . . . . . 7, 16, 20, 104, 116
  XLII.  . . . . . 29, 104, 116
  XLIII. . . . . . 16, 104, 116
  XLIV.  . . . . . 6, 88, 105, 116
  XLV. . . . . . . 23, 46, 49, 71, 117
  XLVI.  . . . . . 95, 117
  XLVII. . . . . . 81, 117
  XLVIII.  . . . . 98, 101, 117
  XLIX.  . . . . . 25, 26, 29, 118
  L. . . . . . . . 40, 102, 118
  LI.  . . . . . . 17, 73, 86, 104, 118
  LII. . . . . . . 118
  LIII.  . . . . . 119
  LIV. . . . . . . 61, 62, 103, 119
  LV.  . . . . . . 119
  LVI. . . . . . . 119
  LVII.  . . . . . 119
  LVIII. . . . . . 28, 119
  LIX. . . . . . . 120
  LX.  . . . . . . 24, 120
  LXI. . . . . . . 120
  LXII.  . . . . . 120
  LXIII. . . . . . 103, 104, 120
  LXIV.  . . . . . 38, 120
  LXV. . . . . . . 104, 121
  LXVI.  . . . . . 121
  LXVII. . . . . . 82, 103, 121
  LXVIII.  . . . . 29, 81, 121
  LXIX.  . . . . . 2, 40, 57, 58, 60, 122
  LXX. . . . . . . 122
  LXXI.  . . . . . 20, 30, 105, 122
  LXXII. . . . . . 7, 46, 83, 84, 123
  LXXIII.  . . . . 14, 68, 123
  LXXIV. . . . . . 6, 24, 89, 123
  LXXV.  . . . . . 123
  LXXVI. . . . . . 94, 124
  LXXVII.  . . . . 16, 124
  LXXVIII. . . . . 10, 85, 95, 124
  LXXIX. . . . . . 6, 23, 85, 90, 124
  LXXX.  . . . . . 74, 124
  LXXXI. . . . . . 102, 125
  LXXXII.  . . . . 101, 102, 125
  LXXXIII. . . . . 37, 90, 125
  LXXXIV.  . . . . 104, 125
  LXXXV. . . . . . 50, 104, 126
  LXXXVI.  . . . . 104, 126
  LXXXVII. . . . . 28, 81, 82, 126
  LXXXVIII.  . . . 16, 25, 60, 61, 126
  LXXXIX.  . . . . 7, 43, 47, 49, 127
  XC.  . . . . . . 127
  XCI. . . . . . . 103, 127
  XCII.  . . . . . 102, 127
  XCIII. . . . . . 102, 128
  XCIV.  . . . . . 101, 102, 128
  XCV. . . . . . . 103, 128
  XCVI.  . . . . . 49, 128
  XCVII. . . . . . 25, 128
  XCVIII.  . . . . 82, 129
  XCIX.  . . . . . 129
  C. . . . . . . . 82, 129
  CI.  . . . . . . 129
  CII. . . . . . . 54, 86, 91, 92, 97, 130
  CIII.  . . . . . 130
  CIV. . . . . . . 16, 24, 130
  CV.  . . . . . . 74, 102, 131
  CVI. . . . . . . 7, 31, 85, 131
  CVII.  . . . . . 20, 71, 131
  CVIII. . . . . . 70, 132
  CIX. . . . . . . 2, 40, 66, 132
  CX.  . . . . . . 2, 28, 51, 132
  CXI. . . . . . . 132
  CXII.  . . . . . 133
  CXIII. . . . . . 83, 113
  CXIII.-CXVIII. . 102
  CXIV.  . . . . . 135
  CXV. . . . . . . 25, 26, 133
  CXVI.  . . . . . 104, 134
  CXVII. . . . . . 134
  CXVIII.  . . . . 69, 134
  CXIX.  . . . . . 11-13, 14, 28, 33, 71, 103, 134
  CXX. . . . . . . 104, 135
  CXX.-CXXXIV. . . 6, 102
  CXXI.  . . . . . 104, 135
  CXXII. . . . . . 99, 102, 135
  CXXIII.  . . . . 135
  CXXIV. . . . . . 136
  CXXV.  . . . . . 136
  CXXVI. . . . . . 136
  CXXVII.  . . . . 136
  CXXVIII. . . . . 136
  CXXIX. . . . . . 137
  CXXX.  . . . . . 86, 104, 137
  CXXXI. . . . . . 10, 11, 137
  CXXXII.  . . . . 47, 49, 75, 96, 137
  CXXXIII. . . . . 137
  CXXXIV.  . . . . 103, 138
  CXXXV. . . . . . 138
  CXXXVI.  . . . . 17, 138
  CXXXVII. . . . . 38, 138
  CXXXVIII.  . . . 25, 104, 139
  CXXXIX.  . . . . 139
  CXL. . . . . . . 139
  CXLI.  . . . . . 139
  CXLII. . . . . . 139
  CXLIII.  . . . . 86, 140
  CXLIV. . . . . . 50, 140
  CXLV.  . . . . . 104, 140
  CXLVI. . . . . . 27, 96, 140
  CXLVII.  . . . . 75, 96, 140
  CXLVIII. . . . . 141
  CXLVIII.-CL. . . 103, 104
  CXLIX. . . . . . 141
  CL.  . . . . . . 7, 104, 141

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