The Divine Lamp

The unfolding of thy words gives light; it imparts understanding to the simple…Make thy face shine upon thy servant, and teach me thy statutes

Archive for November 17th, 2012

St Augustine’s Notes on Psalm 150

Posted by Dim Bulb on November 17, 2012

1. Although the arrangement of the Psalms, which seems to me to contain the secret of a mighty mystery, hath not yet been revealed unto me, yet, by the fact that they in all amount to one hundred and fifty, they suggest somewhat even to us, who have not as yet pierced with the eye of our mind the depth of their entire arrangement, whereon we may without being over-bold, so far as God giveth, be able to speak. Firstly, the number fifteen, whereof it is a multiple this number fifteen, I say, signifieth the agreement of the two Testaments. For in the former is observed the Sabbath, which signifieth rest; in the latter the Lord’s Day, which signifieth resurrection. The Sabbath is the seventh day, but the Lord’s Day, coming after the seventh, must needs be the eighth, and is also to be reckoned the first. For it is called the first day of the week,  and so from it are reckoned the second, third, fourth, and so on to the seventh day of the week, which is the Sabbath. But from Lord’s Day to Lord’s Day is eight days, wherein is declared the revelation of the New Testament, which in the Old was as it were veiled under earthly promises. Further, seven and eight make fifteen. Of the same number too are the Psalms which are called “of the steps,” because that was the number of the steps of the Temple. Further too, the number fifty in itself also containeth a great mystery. For it consisteth of a week of weeks, with the addition of one as an eighth to complete the number of fifty. For seven times seven make forty-nine, whereto one is added to make fifty. And this number fifty is of so great meaning, that it was after the completion of that number of days from the Lord’s Resurrection, that, on the fiftieth day exactly, the Holy Spirit came upon those who were gathered together in Christ. And this Holy Spirit is in Scripture especially spoken of by the number seven, whether in Isaiah or in the Apocalypse, where the seven Spirits of God are most directly mentioned, on account of the sevenfold operation of one and the self-same Spirit (Rev 1:20).  And this sevenfold operation is mentioned in Isaiah11:2 … Hence also the Holy Spirit is spoken of under the number seven. But this period of fifty the Lord divided into forty and ten: for on the fortieth day after His Resurrection He ascended into heaven, and then after ten days were completed He sent the Holy Spirit: under the number forty setting forth to us the period of temporal sojourn in this world. For the number four prevaileth in forty; and the world and the year have each four parts; and by the addition of the number ten, as a sort of reward added for the fulfilment of the law in good works, eternity itself is figured. This fifty the number one hundred and fifty containeth three times, as though it were multiplied by the Trinity. Wherefore for this reason too we make out that this number of the Psalm is not unsuitable.

2. Now in that some have believed that the Psalms are divided into five books, they have been led by the fact, that so often at the end of Psalms are the words, “so be it, so be it.” But when I endeavoured to make out the principle of this division, I was not able; for neither are the five parts equal one to another, neither in quantity of contents, nor yet even in number of Psalms, so as for each to contain thirty. And if each book end with, “so be it, so be it,” we may reasonably ask, why the fifth and last book hath not the same conclusion. We however, following the authority of canonical Scripture, where it is said, “For it is written in the book of Psalms” (Acts 1:20), know that there is but one book of Psalms. And I see indeed how this can be true, and yet the other be true also, without contravening it. For it may be that there was some custom in Hebrew literature, whereby that is called one book which yet consists of more than one, just as of many churches one church consisteth, and of many heavens one heaven (Ps 121:2, Gen 1:8), … and one land of many lands. For it is our everyday habit to say, “the globe of the earth,” and “the globe of the lands.” And when it is said, “It is written in the book of Psalms,” though the customary way of speaking is such that he seem to have wished to suggest that there is but one book, yet to this it may be answered, that the words mean “in a book of the Psalms,” that is, “in any one of those five books.” And this is in common language so unprecedented, or at least so rare, that we are only convinced that the twelve Prophets made one book, because we read in like manner,” As it is written in the book of the Prophets” (Acts 7:42). There are some too who call all the canonical Scriptures together one book (Ps 40:8), because they agree in a very wondrous and divine unity. …

3. Whichever then of these is understood, this book, in its parts of fifty Psalms each, gives an answer important and very worthy of consideration. For it seems to me not without significance, that the fiftieth is of penitence, the hundredth of mercy and judgment, the hundred and fiftieth of the praise of God in His saints. For thus do we advance to an everlasting life of happiness, first by condemning our own sins, then by living aright, that, having condemned our ill life, and lived a good life, we may attain to everlasting life. Our predestination is not wrought in ourselves, but in secret with Him, in His foreknowledge (Rom 8:30). But we are called by the preaching of repentance. We are justified in the calling of mercy and fear of judgment. He feareth not judgment, who hath previously attained salvation. Being called, we renounce the devil by repentance, that we may not continue under his yoke: being justified, we are healed by mercy, that we may not fear judgment: being glorified, we pass into everlasting life, where we praise God without end. … The verse wherewith this Psalm concludeth is the voice of life everlasting.

4. “Praise the Lord in His saints,” that is, in those whom He hath glorified: “praise Him in the firmament of His power” (verse 1). “Praise Him in His deeds of strength;” or, as others have explained it, “in His deeds of power: praise Him according to the multitude of His greatness” (verse 2). All these His saints are; as the Apostle saith, “But we may be the righteousness of God in Him” (2 Cor 5:21).  If then they be the righteousness of God, which He hath wrought in them, why are they not also the strength of Christ which He hath wrought in them, that they should rise again from the dead? For in Christ’s resurrection, “strength” is especially set forth to us, for in His Passion was weakness, as the Apostle saith (2 Cor 13:4; Philpp 3:10).  And well doth it say, “the firmament of His power.” For it is the “firmament of His power” that He “dieth no more, death hath no more dominion over Him” (Rom 6:9). Why should not they also be called “the works of” God’s “strength,” which He hath done in them: yea rather, they themselves are the works of His strength; just as it is said, “We are the righteousness of God in Him.” For what more powerful than that He should reign for ever, with all His enemies put under His feet? Why should not they also be “the multitude of His greatness”? not that whereby He is great, but whereby He hath made them great, many as they are, that is, thousands of thousands. Just as righteousness too is understood in two ways, that whereby He is righteous, and that which He worketh in us, so as to make us His righteousness. These same saints are signified by all the musical instruments in succession, to praise God in. For what the Psalmist began with, saying, “Praise the Lord in His saints,” that he carrieth out, signifying in various ways these same saints of His.

5. “Praise Him in the sound of the trumpet” (verse 3): on account of the surpassing clearness of note of their praise. “Praise Him in the psaltery and harp.” The psaltery praiseth God from things above, the harp praiseth God from things below; I mean, from things in heaven, and things in earth, as He who made heaven and earth. We have already in another Psalm, explained that the psaltery hath that board, whereon the series of strings rests that it may give a better sound, above, whereas the harp has it below. “Praise Him in the timbrel and choir” (verse 4). The “timbrel” praiseth God when the flesh is now changed, so that there is in it no weakness of earthly corruption. For the timbrel is made of leather dried and strengthened. The “choir” praiseth God when society made peaceful praiseth Him. “Praise Him on the strings and organ.” Both psaltery and harp, which have been mentioned above, have strings. But “organ” is a general name for all instruments of music, although usage has now obtained that those are specially called organ which are inflated with bellows: but I do not think that this kind is meant here. For since organ is a Greek word, applied generally, as I have said, to all musical instruments, this instrument, to which bellows are applied, is called by the Greeks by another name: but it being called organ is rather a Latin and conversational usage. When then he saith, “on the strings and organ,” he seemeth to me to have intended to signify some instrument which hath strings. For it is not psalteries and harps only that have strings: but, because in the psaltery, and harp, on account of the sound from things below and things above, somewhat has been found which can be understood after this distinction, he hath suggested to us to seek some other meaning in the strings themselves: for they too are flesh, but flesh now set free from corruption. And to those, it may be, he added the organ, to signify that they sound not each separately, but sound together in most harmonious diversity, just as they are arranged in a musical instrument. For even then the saints of God will have their differences, accordant, not discordant, that is, agreeing, not disagreeing, just as sweetest harmony arises from sounds differing indeed, but not opposed to one another.

6. “Praise Him on the well-sounding cymbals, praise Him on cymbals of jubilation” (verse 5). Cymbals touch one another in order to sound, and therefore are by some compared to our lips. But I think it better to understand that God is in a manner praised on the cymbal, when each is honoured by his neighbour, not by himself, and then honouring one another, they give praise to God. But lest any should under stand such cymbals as sound without life, therefore I think he added, “on cymbals of jubilation.” For “jubilation” that is, unspeakable praise, proceedeth not, save from life. Nor do I think that I should pass over what musicians say, that there are three kinds of sounds, by voice, by breath, by striking: by voice, uttered by throat and windpipe, when man singeth without any instrument; by breath, as by pipe, or anything of that sort: by striking, as by harp, or anything of that kind. None then of these kinds is omitted here: for there is voice in the choir, breath in the trumpet, striking in the harp, representing mind, spirit, body,(1) but by similitudes, not in the proper sense of the words. When then he proposed, “Praise God in His saints,” to whom said he this, save to themselves? And in whom are they to praise God, save in themselves? For ye, saith he, are “His saints;” ye are “His strength,” but that which He wrought in you; ye are “His mighty works, an d the multitude of His greatness,” which He hath wrought and set forth in you. Ye are “trumpet, psaltery, harp, timbrel, choir, strings, and organ, cymbals of jubilation sounding well,” because sounding in harmony. All these are ye: let nought that is vile, nought that is transitory, nought that is ludicrous, be here thought of. And since to savour of the flesh is death, “let every spirit praise the Lord” (verse 6). (Augustin on Psalms 150)

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Father Boylan’s Introduction and Notes on Psalm 150

Posted by Dim Bulb on November 17, 2012

Text in red are my additions.


THIS psalm is a sort of complement to Ps 148. As in Ps 148 all creatures of heaven and earth and the Deep are invited to join in a great song of praise to their Maker, the God and Saviour of Israel, so here the universe is summoned to accompany its praising song with every kind of music, and with sacred dance. A psalm which represents creation joining in such a mighty symphony of praise is a fitting conclusion to the Sepher Tillim, “The Book of Praising-songs.” Ps 150 may be regarded as the Doxology to the entire Psalter.

The Psalter began with a macarism (blessing) on the righteous man (Ps 1:1), and now it ends with an Alleluia to God. (“Praise the Lord.” Greek: ἀλληλούΐα = Alleluia; Hebrew: הלל = hâlal ). The blessing man receives ought to rightly lead him to praise of God. The five psalms which close out the Psalter all begin and end with “Praise the Lord”, and the ancient Jewish and Christian teachers saw in this a connection to the “ten words” of creation, and the “ten words” of the Decalogue, and the “ten words” to Moses in regard to the Tabernacle’s construction. (Note: In Genesis 1 the phrase “Let there be” appears ten times. The ten commandments are referred to as “the ten words” in Exodus 34:28; Deut 4:13, Deut 10:4. Ten times in his instructions concerning the building of the Tabernacle we read: “And God said to Moses…”). The word “praise” in some form or another appears 13 times in Psalm 150 if you include the opening and closing Alleluias[Hallelujah] (see the NAB translation of this Psalm). This has led some to draw a connection to the 13 attributes or titles used of God in Exodus 34:6-7.

Psa 150:1  Praise ye the Lord in his holy places: praise ye him in the firmament of his power.

In His holy places. The Sanctuary is either God’s sanctuary on earth—the Temple in Jerusalem, or His dwelling in heaven. Since the psalmist speaks in this verse of the firmament it is more likely that the Sanctuary is the sanctuary of heaven. Some modern scholars see in the reference to holy places (not the plural) as a reference to both the earthly and heavenly temples

His strong firmament. The firmament, above which God has His dwelling, is Yahweh’s unassailable fortress. Since it is “His dwelling” it could be a reference to the heavenly sanctuary, as some scholars maintain (see my previous note).

Psa 150:2  Praise ye him for his mighty acts: praise ye him according to the multitude of his greatness.

The virtutes (according to the Latin Vulgate) are not the Angelic hosts, but the great deeds of the Lord. In virtutibus eius = “because of His mighty deeds.” Apparently some in Fr. Boylan’s day were confusing the reference to virtutibus (Greek: δυναστειαις; Hebrew:  בגבורתיו) with angelic powers. His mighty acts are a reference to God’s power to create and sustain his creation, and includes his ability to save. See the various things for which we are called upon to praise God in Psalms 146-149. The multitude of his greatness is simply another way of speaking about his mighty acts.

Psa 150:3  Praise him with the sound of trumpet: praise him with psaltery and harp.
Psa 150:4  Praise him with timbrel and choir: praise him with strings and organs.
Psa 150:5  Praise him on high sounding cymbals: praise him on cymbals of joy:

In the Temple-service the priests blew the trumpets: the Levites played the harp and psaltery; the women beat the timbrels; the sacred dance, the reeds, strings and cymbals belonged to the worship of the people generally. Thus the summons in verses 3-5 is addressed to all the worshippers—the Priests, Levites, and the multitude of the laity.

Choro. That is the sacred dance. see Psalm 149:3. The above translation of verse 4 speaks of a choir, a possible translation of the Latin choro, which in turn translates the Greek χορω, a word from which both choir and choreography (dance arrangement) are derived. The Hebrew  ומחול is derived from  חוּל, to twist, whirl, dance. Most people today might take the translation of choir to mean a group of singers, but the word can mean any organized group, including a choir of dancers (see definition #4 here).

In verses 3-5 there are 7 instruments are mentioned: trumpet, psaltery, harp, timbrel, strings, organs, cymbals. The word psaltery is generally translated into modern English as lyre. Organs is usually translated today as pipes. All of the instruments are associated with worship elsewhere in the Psalms except for organs (pipes). It does not appear that organs (pipes) were ever used in temple celebration, perhaps because “the pipe was invented by Jubal of the corrupt line of Cain” (Gen 4:17-14 Fr. Stuhlmueller). Father Stuhlmueller goes on to suggest that its inclusion here is a sign of redemption: :We suspect that Psalm 150 glories in a redeemed universe where everything and everyone are again rejoicing innocently and exultantly within a new paradise.”

Psa 150:6  Let every spirit praise the Lord. Alleluia.

Every spirit.  Everything which has the breath of life. (הנשׁמה). This is an appeal to every living thing—to heathen, therefore, as well as to Jew—to unite in praise of Yahweh. The universalism of the last psalm is thus, absolute. Here there is no hint of defeated foes of the Messias paying unwilling homage to their conqueror. There is here no suggestion of discord in the symphony of the universe. The Book of Psalms thus fitly ends with the Alleluia of all Creation. Father Schaefer suggests that the verse “might be paraphrased with a moral tone, As long as you breath, praise God.”

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This Week’s Posts: Sunday, November 18-Sunday, November 25 2012 (Includes Thanksgiving Day and some early Advent resources)

Posted by Dim Bulb on November 17, 2012

This post will remain at the top of this blog until next Saturday afternoon. Under the Thursday listing, besides the normal Ordinary and Extraordinary Form resources, I’ve included resources for the special Thanksgiving Day Mass. A few posts on various days are marked pending and I hope to have these available soon. At the very end of this post you will find some early resources for the 1st and 2nd Sundays of Advent.

Dominica VI quae superfluit Post Epiphaniam IV. Novembris ~ II. classis

RESOURCES FOR TODAY’S MASS (Ordinary and Extraordinary Forms).

Last Week’s Posts: Sunday, Nov. 11-Sunday, Nov. 18.

S. Elisabeth Viduae ~ III. classis
Tempora: Feria II infra Hebdomadam VI quae superfluit post Epiphaniam IV. Novembris



S. Felicis Valois Confessoris ~ III. classis
Tempora: Feria III infra Hebdomadam VI quae superfluit post Epiphaniam IV. Novembris



In Presentatione Beatae Mariae Virginis ~ III. classis
Tempora: Feria IV infra Hebdomadam VI quae superfluit post Epiphaniam IV. Novembris



S. Ceciliae Virginis et Martyrum ~ III. classis
Tempora: Feria V infra Hebdomadam VI quae superfluit post Epiphaniam IV. Novembris


  • Pending: Father Boylan’s Introduction to Today’s Responsorial (Ps 149).
  • Pending: St Augustine’s Notes on Today’s Responsorial (Ps 149).



S. Clementis Papae et Martyris ~ III. classis
Tempora: Feria VI infra Hebdomadam VI quae superfluit post Epiphaniam IV. Novembris



Memorial of Saint Andrew Düng-Lac, priest and martyr, and his companions, martyrs
S. Joannis de Cruce Confessoris ~ III. classis
Tempora: Sabbato infra Hebdomadam VI quae superfluit post Epiphaniam IV. Novembris



Today’s Roman Missal. Be sure correct date is set.

Roman Breviary. Be sure correct date is set.

Father Callan’s Commentary on 2 Timothy 4:1-8.

Navarre Bible Commentary on 2 Timothy 4:1-8.

Maldonado’s Commentary on Matthew 5:13-19.

Aquinas’ Catena Aurea on Matthew 5:13-19.

Dominica XXIV et ultima Post Pentecosten V. Novembris ~ II. classis

RESOURCES FOR SUNDAY MASS (Ordinary and Extraordinary Forms). Usually posted on Wednesday evenings (sometimes Tues or Thurs. evenings). I hope to have up a complete resource post for Advent by Saturday. Some early resources are listed below.


POSTS FOR SUNDAY, NOV. 25-SUNDAY, DEC. 2Includes resources for the 1st Sunday of Advent (i.e., see next link). This post will be moved to the top of the blog late Saturday, Nov. 24th.


First Sunday of Advent:

Second Sunday of Advent:

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