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A Commentary On The Psalms From Primitive and Mediæval Writers Volumes 1 To 4 by Rev. J.M. Neale D.D.

Gregorian and Monastic. Vary with every day and festival.

Parisian. The LORD show us the light * of His Countenance, that we may know Thy way upon earth, O LORD.

Lyons. GOD * be merciful unto us, and bless us.

Ambrosian. As preceding Psalm.

Mozarabic. The LORD show us the light of His Countenance.

The use of this Psalm in the Gregorian and Monastic Psalters is peculiar. It is always said together with Ps. 63, under one Antiphon, and with but one Gloria, at the close. The custom is a very ancient one, and is mystically explained by Durandus, as follows: “It is asked, why the two foregoing Psalms, to wit, O God, Thou art my God, and God be merciful unto us, are united, and said under one Gloria Patri and one Antiphon. To which the reply is fourfold. First, because the Psalm, O God, Thou art my God, signifies thirst for GOD; in the Psalm, God be merciful, the Trinity is indicated. This is done therefore to signify thirst and continual longing for GOD. Secondly, to note that, before the persecution of Antichrist, the people of believing Gentiles, referred to by the Psalm, O God, Thou art my God, and the repentant people of the Jews, referred to by the Psalm, God be merciful, shall be one in faith; and after they are united, the tribulation of Antichrist will come. Thirdly, because the former Psalm signifies love of GOD; wherefore it is there said. My soul thirsteth for Thee. The Latter Psalm signifies love of one’s neighbour; wherefore it is said, That we may know Thy saving health among all nations, which two things are so joined together, that a Christian cannot have one without the other. Fourthly, because the grace of which the Church seems conscious in the former Psalm is evidently conferred in the latter; wherefore there is an invitation to thanksgiving, when it is said there, Let the people praise Thee, O God. Again, at the end of the Psalm, O God, the Gloria Patri is not said, because therein human sorrow is treated of; whence it is there said, My soul thirsteth. For it is not every Psalm treating of sorrows and other adversities which praises Him for them, though they should do so. But in the following Psalm the Gloria Patri is subjoined, because in it the mercy of GOD is treated of.” Psalm 67 is also used in several benedictions, as in the churching of women, and the blessing of bells, and in the processions for line weather.

1 GOD be merciful unto us, and bless us: and show us the light of his countenance, and be merciful unto us.

The words first rise to a climax, (C.) and then are further emphasized by repetition of the opening prayer. Mercy for past error and sin is first sought, and then blessing. But as GOD blesses in many ways, sometimes granting only temporal gifts, the special desire of the suppliant is added—enlightenment by Divine grace. The prayer for mercy is repeated, because GOD’S mercy is as necessary for perseverance in grace as for the original call to it. And observe, remarks Eusebius,* that there is a clear reference to the Levitical benediction under the Law: “Speak unto Aaron and unto his sons, saying, On this wise shall ye bless the children of Israel, saying unto them, The LORD bless thee, and keep thee: the LORD make His Face to shine upon thee, and be gracious unto thee: the LORD lift up His Countenance upon thee, and give thee peace. And they shall put My Name upon the children of Israel; and I will bless them.”* So that the Psalm must have a prophetic relation to the return from exile, when the priests should resume the interrupted custom of benediction. (A.) The whole Psalm is the prayer of the Vineyard to the Husbandman, of the Church to GOD the FATHER, praying Him to send His rain to increase the fruits which He has planted and tilled Himself. But though it is collectively the cry of the whole vineyard,* yet each section belongs to a different part. Be merciful is the cry of penitents; bless us, that of advancing Christians; show us the light of His Countenance, of dying ones; asking severally for pardon, justification, wisdom, and glory. Observe the repetition of the words, (Z.) be merciful unto us. Divine grace is as necessary for final perseverance, as for the first call to repentance. And show us the light of His Countenance. The Countenance or Face of the FATHER is the SON. For, saith He, “He that hath seen Me hath seen the FATHER.”* Therefore the Prophet saith, in the way of desire, Let His Countenance appear; that is, May the FATHER’S Countenance, even the SON Himself, shine on us, here on earth, by His Incarnation.

2 That thy way may be known upon earth: thy saving health among all nations.

Thy way is that which leadeth to Thee. (A.) What is it? We can learn it from the Gospel. The LORD saith, CHRIST saith, “I am the Way.”* But dost thou fear lest thou shouldst stray? He hath added, “I am the Truth.” Who strayeth in the truth? He strayeth that hath departed from the truth. The Truth is CHRIST, the Way is CHRIST; walk therein. Dost thou fear lest thou die before thou attain unto Him? “I am the Life.” “I am,” He saith, “the Way, the Truth, and the Life.” As if He were saying, What fearest thou? Through Me thou walkest, to Me thou walkest, in Me thou restest. And note, observes S. Albert, that we may know His way in three manners here on earth.* By natural understanding, which is wisdom; “for the invisible things of Him are clearly seen, being understood by the things which are made.”* By grace, through faith, “for now we see through a glass, darkly.”* And there is the glorious manner, by which it shall be known in our Country. “Then shall I know, even as I am known.” And therefore rightly does the hymn address the Light of GOD’S Countenance:

O Blessed Face, whose praise we sing!*

Here in the way we worship Thee;

That in the Country of our King,

Filled with Thy glory we may be.

Thy saving health among all nations. (G.) It is the doom of Jewish isolation and supremacy. Let us not, then, stand outside with the envious elder brother, angry with his brother who was lost; but let us enter in, and be gladdened with that harmony which that great choir sang. And that it may become greater day by day, and be multiplied unto the end, we pray and cry:

3 Let the people praise thee, O GOD: yea, let all the people praise thee.

Walk ye in the Way together with all nations; walk ye in the Way together with all peoples, (A.) O sons of peace, sons of the One Catholic Church. Walk ye in the Way, singing as ye go. Wayfarers do this to beguile their toil. Sing ye in this Way, I implore you by that same Way, sing ye in this Way; a new song sing ye, let no one there sing old ones; sing ye the love-songs of your fatherland, let no one sing old ones. New Way, new wayfarer, new song.

4 O let the nations rejoice and be glad: for thou shalt judge the folk righteously, and govern the nations upon earth.

They shall be glad, (G.) and not in servile terror of the Judgment, because not only will it be just, and therefore merciful, instead of arbitrary and cruel, but Thou shalt govern and guide the nations in the right way, so that they shall be safe from all peril, because taught by Thee to avoid all sin.

5 Let the people praise thee, O GOD: let all the people praise thee.

6 Then shall the earth bring forth her increase: and GOD, even our own GOD, shall give us his blessing.

The LXX., Vulgate, Syriac, and Æthiopic all translate, more correctly, The earth hath brought forth her fruit, and join these words to the preceding ones. It is a fresh reason for the exultation of the people, more glorious and joyous than the former. For the earth is that holy soil, (Ay.) of which is written, “Drop down, ye heavens, from above, and let the skies pour down righteousness; let the earth open, and let them bring forth salvation.”* The earth hath brought forth her fruit; Mary hath born JESUS.

ἀνήρωτος ἄρουρα ὡράθης, τὸν στάχυν τεκοῦσα τῆς ζωῆς.*

So too the Western hymn:

Gaude Virgo gloriosa,

Verbum verbo concepisti,

Gaude tellus fructuosa,

Fructum vitæ protulisti.

7 GOD shall bless us: and all the ends of the world shall fear him.

The mystery of the Holy Trinity is shadowed out in the triple recitation of the Name of GOD. GOD the FATHER, (Ay.) Unbegotten, Underived, shall bless us. Our own GOD, our Brother, GOD the SON, made like unto us, shall bless us. GOD the HOLY GHOST shall bless us. And the singular verb and pronoun which follow express the Unity. (G.) All the ends of the world shall fear Him. Not with the servile terror which the devils feel, but the filial awe of sons, (D. C.) the wholesome reverence of disciples, that by that fear we may be guarded from the wrath to come.

Wherefore:

Glory be to the FATHER, Who hath imprinted on us, His sons by adoption, His Countenance, that is, His SON by nature; and to the SON, Who is the FATHER’S Countenance; and to the HOLY GHOST, the mercy and light of the Countenance of GOD.

As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be: world without end. Amen.








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