I do most of my intercessory prayer that happens within the office at Vigils. At 4:15, your mind is clear and focused and the fourteen psalms each morning offer something for most every contingency. This morning, my particular intention was the Sacred Synods in the UK and I found myself searching my mind for what would be a particularly appropriate psalm to say regularly as these meetings happen and as, please God, we enter the stage of the formation of the first ordinariates around the world. As I was both praying and wracking my brain—I don’t think that counts as entertaining a distraction—we came to Psalm 84 and I knew I had been given at least one answer.
After the Office, I came down to the library to see what John Mason Neale had to say in his commentary. Surely this is an example of the good sort of ecumenism: a Catholic monk looking in the library for a commentary by an Anglican republished by the Orthodox Lancelot Andrewes Press.
Neale’s commentary makes note that, in addition to its place in the regular run of the Office, this psalm also appears in the II Nocturn of Vigils for both Corpus Christi and for the Dedication of a Church, which I took as a sign that I was indeed on the right track. Interestingly, the Venerable Bede argues that the psalm refers to the sons of Korah who were saved and continued to serve in the temple when their kinsmen rebelled and were swallowed by the Earth. That’s probably a bit less congenial than the interpretation by St. Thomas that this psalm is the voice of Christ to the Father on behalf of the Church concerning the opening of the heavenly kingdom to those who have attained faith.
O HOW amiable are thy dwellings, * thou LORD of hosts!
2 My soul hath a desire and longing to enter into the courts of the LORD; * my heart and my flesh rejoice in the living God.
3 Yea, the sparrow hath found her an house, and the swallow a nest, where she may lay her young; * even thy altars, O LORD of hosts, my King and my God.
4 Blessed are they that dwell in thy house; * they will be alway praising thee.
5 Blessed is the man whose strength is in thee; * in whose heart are thy ways.
6 Who going through the vale of misery use it for a well; * and the pools are filled with water.
7 They will go from strength to strength, * and unto the God of gods appeareth every one of them in Sion.
8 O LORD God of hosts, hear my prayer; * hearken, O God of Jacob.
9 Behold, O God our defender, * and look upon the face of thine anointed.
10 For one day in thy courts * is better than a thousand.
11 I had rather be a door-keeper in the house of my God, * than to dwell in the tents of ungodliness.
12 For the LORD God is a light and defence; * the LORD will give grace and worship; and no good thing shall he withhold from them that live a godly life.
13 O LORD God of hosts, * blessed is the man that putteth his trust in thee.
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