16 June 2022

Praying with the Psalms in Ordinary Time:
16 June 2022 (Psalm 113)

‘Blessed be the name of the Lord … from the rising of the sun to its setting’ (Psalm 113: 2-3) … sunrise at Igoumenitsa on the west coast of Greece (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

Patrick Comerford

We are now in Ordinary Time, and in the calendar in Common Worship in the Church of England, today (Thursday 16 June 2022) is Corpus Christi or the ‘Day of Thanksgiving for the Institution of Holy Communion.’ Two of us are planning to visit Lichfield later today, visiting both the Chapel of Saint John’s Hospital and Lichfield Cathedral.

Before today begins, I am taking some time this morning to continue my reflections drawing on the Psalms.

In my blog, I am reflecting each morning in this Prayer Diary in these ways:

1, Short reflections on a psalm or psalms;

2, reading the psalm or psalms;

3, a prayer from the USPG prayer diary.

Psalm 113:

Psalm 113 is the first of the six psalms (Psalms 113-118) comprising the Hallel (הַלֵּל, ‘Praise’). It is often known by its opening phrase in Latin, Laudate pueri Dominum. In the slightly different numbering system in the Greek Septuagint and in the Latin Vulgate, this psalm is Psalm 112.

Psalms 113-118 are among the earliest prayers written to be recited in the Temple on days of national celebration. They were sung as accompaniment to the Pesach or Passover sacrifice. Early rabbinic sources suggest that these psalms were said on the pilgrimage festivals – Pesach, Shavuot and Sukkot.

Verse 7 (‘He raises the poor from the dust’) is reminiscent of Hannah’s prayer after the birth of her child (see I Samuel 2: 8). As the former Chief Rabbi, Lord (Jonathan) Sacks, notes, the religions of the ancient world were deeply conservative, designed to vindicate and perpetuate hierarchies. Judaism, however, believing that human dignity is the prerogative of everyone, was ‘an ongoing protest against such inequalities. God’s greatness is evident in the fact that he can lift the poor and the needy to a place of honour alongside princes.’

In Judaism, Psalm 113 is the first of the six psalms (Psalm 113-118) comprising the Hallel, a prayer of praise and thanksgiving on Rosh Chodesh (the first day of the Hebrew month) and the holidays of Passover (Pesach), Shavuot, and Sukkot, as well as at Hanukkah and Rosh Chodesh, or the beginning of the new month. On all days when Hallel is recited, Psalm 113 is recited in its entirety.

‘He raises the poor from the dust’ (Psalm 113: 7) … the ‘Poor Man’s Friend’ remembered in a plaque on a terrace of houses on Wolverton Road, Stony Stratford (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2022)

Psalm 113 (NRSVA):

1 Praise the Lord!
Praise, O servants of the Lord;
praise the name of the Lord.

2 Blessed be the name of the Lord
from this time on and for evermore.
3 From the rising of the sun to its setting
the name of the Lord is to be praised.
4 The Lord is high above all nations,
and his glory above the heavens.

5 Who is like the Lord our God,
who is seated on high,
6 who looks far down
on the heavens and the earth?
7 He raises the poor from the dust,
and lifts the needy from the ash heap,
8 to make them sit with princes,
with the princes of his people.
9 He gives the barren woman a home,
making her the joyous mother of children.
Praise the Lord!

The Old Court in Corpus Christi College, Cambridge … today is the Feast of Corpus Christi (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

Today’s Prayer:

The theme this week in the prayer diary of the Anglican mission agency USPG (United Society Partners in the Gospel) is ‘Focus 9/99,’ which was introduced on Sunday by the Revd M Benjamin Inbaraj, Director of the Church of South India’s SEVA department.

Thursday 16 June 2022 (Corpus Christi):

The USPG Prayer invites us to pray today in these words:

Let us remember that many children do not have access to education. May we support efforts to remedy this wrong.

Yesterday’s reflection

Continued tomorrow

Scripture quotations are from the New Revised Standard Version Bible: Anglicised Edition copyright © 1989, 1995, National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide. http://nrsvbibles.org

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