8 Mar 2011

Updates: Psalms 111 and 112

Last month I mentioned that I had posted Psalm 111, but I will say a bit more about this psalm now that I have posted 112 as well. Psalms 111 and 112 are in effect mirror psalms comparing God with the godly person. It may be justly said that the notion of man being created in God's image, often thought to be limited to Genesis 1:26-27 and 9:6 and implied in Psalm 8, is also found in these two psalms. Both are alphabetical acrostic psalms containing 22 lines each. Each line of 111 is reflected in some fashion in its counterpart in 112, conveying the sense that, e.g., if the justice or righteousness of God endures for ever, so does that of the just man (the ו VAV line is identical in both psalms). The alleluias at the beginning of each psalm precede the alphabetical lines.

Although the Genevan tunes for the two psalms have different metres (889 889 and 999 999), they nevertheless have the same number of lines per stanza. With four stanzas in my own versification, this adds up to 24 lines in total, two more than the number of letters in the Hebrew alphabet. Consequently, I have had little choice but to expand slightly the thoughts contained in the first stanzas of each psalm while following the number of lines from the original in the remaining stanzas. The texts are unrhymed.

Both tunes are in the dorian mode. That for 111 is shared with Psalms 24, 62 and 95, while the tune to Psalm 112 is unique to that psalm.

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