Monday, March 24, 2014

Psalm 95:1-5 (ESV)

1 Oh come, let us sing to the Lord;
let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation!
Let us come into his presence with thanksgiving;
let us make a joyful noise to him with songs of praise!
For the Lord is a great God,
and a great King above all gods.
In his hand are the depths of the earth;
the heights of the mountains are his also.
The sea is his, for he made it,
and his hands formed the dry land.

Come, let us sing gladly to the Lord.

Venite, exultemus Domino.

Rendering the text in English, the Book of Common Prayer follows the use of medieval Matins in appointing Psalm 95 as the invitatory psalm.  Thus, the piece is to be sung as an invitation to prayer at the opening of the Anglican Morning Office.

Along with “the people of his pasture,” the realm of nature is summoned in the text to join in the worship of their common creator.  Writing in the Oxford American Prayer Book Commentary, Massey Shepherd is struck by the comprehension in worship themes found in this one psalm.  The text induces in us praise for “the majesty and glory of God manifest in the created order which He has made and over which He presides, His tender care and providence for His people as of a shepherd for his flock, and the stern but just demands of righteousness and truth that he makes upon them as their final Judge.”

To Shepherd, the Venite kick starts the Office.  It bids us to tackle the psalms immediately following with the same attitudes of trust and sincerity we’ve employed in belting out 95.  Whether the themes and moods of worship in saying the given Office veer towards the personal or communal, the comprehension of Psalm 95 puts our head in the game.

Don’t ignore a treasure of Anglican spirituality moldering on your bookshelf.  Praying the Prayer Book Offices allows your voice to be lifted above the din to heaven.  It can be the occasion for angels to move, demons to flee, and finding a God who breaks in.

Or the thing can just sit there on your shelf.

Minister.  O Lord, show thy mercy upon us.
Answer.  
And grant us thy salvation.
Minister. 
O God, make clean our hearts within us.
Answer. 
And take not thy Holy Spirit from us.

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