9 May 2013

Update: Psalm 66

I have just posted my 82nd Genevan Psalm versification, namely, Psalm 66. This psalm is one of thanksgiving and celebration for God's deliverance of his people, especially in the exodus from Egypt, which suggests its use in the Passover liturgy (see verse 6). Indeed, the authors of this wikipedia article tell us that within Judaism Psalm 66 is "recited on the second day of Passover in some traditions and the sixth day in others."

Given the spiritual connections between Passover and the Christian Pascha, it is not surprising that it should find its way into the Easter liturgy of the church as well. In fact, the superscription in the Septuagint translation of the psalm, numbered 65 there, runs: ωδή ψαλμού [αναστάσεως], that is, "an ode of a psalm [of resurrection]," the bracketed word perhaps a later christian liturgical interpolation. Fr. Patrick Henry Reardon observes that the first four lines of this psalm occur in the Divine Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom for Pascha, which was just celebrated this past sunday in the Orthodox churches. Here is my own versification of verses 8 and 9:

Now bless our God, you earthly peoples;
let all your praise to him resound,
for he keeps us among the living
and placed our feet on stable ground.

In the Genevan Psalter, Psalm 66 shares the same tune with Psalms 98 and 118, the latter of which is also sung at Easter. All three are psalms of celebration breathing a similar spirit of thanksgiving to God for his mercies. The tune is one of the better-known and more durable of the Genevan Psalter, with the eucharistic hymn, Bread of the World in Mercy Broken, being set to it. Revisiting this tune persuaded me to make a very modest alteration of the arrangement. The entire score can be found here.

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