21 July 2022

Praying with the Psalms in Ordinary Time:
21 July 2022 (Psalm 148)

‘Praise him, sun and moon; praise him, all you shing stars’ (Psalm 148: 3) … in the Vandeleur Walled Gardens in Kilrush, Co Clare (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2020)

Patrick Comerford

In the Calendar of the Church, we are in Ordinary Time. 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 148:

Psalm 148 is the third of the five final concluding praise Psalms in the Book of Psalms (Psalm 146 to Psalm 150). In Latin, Psalm 148 is known as ‘Laudate Dominum de caelis.’

Psalms 146 to 150 form the culmination or crescendo of the Book of Psalms as a whole. These six psalms correspond to the six days of creation. These psalms are not attributed to David. In the Septuagint, Psalms 145 to 148 are given the title ‘of Haggai and Zechariah.’

Psalms 148, like all five ‘hallelujah’ closing or final psalms, exhorts us to praise the Lord. Psalm 148 is a creation psalm. The entire universe sings a song of praise to God.

The first half of the psalm is about the heavens, the second half about the earth.

The heavens – including the Sun and Moon – shall praise God for creating them.

All created things – from the lowest in the form of sea monsters, to the highest, in the form of humans – shall praise God. The wind or ruah – which could also mean the Spirit or God’s will – does God’s will.

Each is a voice in the choral symphony of creation, in which all that exists testifies to its Maker.

Whatever our experiences in the past have been, whatever our expectations of the future may be, the praise of God remains our shared, common, constant call, introducing us to the prospect of a covenant with God and with one another.

The Midrash Tehillim identifies the entities to which the opening verses are addressed. ‘Praise the Lord from the heavens; praise him in the heights!’ (verse 1) is addressing the ministering angels; ‘praise him, all his host!’ (verse 2) is addressed to those who fulfil God’s will. ‘Praise him, sun and moon’ (v. 3) refers to the Biblical Patriarchs and Matriarchs who are likened to the sun and moon in Joseph’s dream (see Genesis 37: 9). ‘Praise him, all you shining stars!’ (verse 3) refers to righteous individuals, as Daniel said, ‘Those who are wise shall shine like the brightness of the sky, and those who lead many to righteousness, like the stars for ever and ever’ (Daniel 12: 3).

The Midrash adds, ‘From this you learn that every [righteous individual] has his own star in heaven, and that his star shines according to his deeds.’

The American composer Leonard Bernstein adapted the text for his Psalm 148, a setting for voice and piano and dated in 1935, his earliest surviving composition.

‘Praise the Lord from the earth, you sea monsters and all deeps’ (Psalm 148: 7) … a fresco in the Monastery of Vatopedi on Mount Athos (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

Psalm 148 (NRSVA):

1 Praise the Lord!
Praise the Lord from the heavens;
praise him in the heights!
2 Praise him, all his angels;
praise him, all his host!

3 Praise him, sun and moon;
praise him, all you shining stars!
4 Praise him, you highest heavens,
and you waters above the heavens!

5 Let them praise the name of the Lord,
for he commanded and they were created.
6 He established them for ever and ever;
he fixed their bounds, which cannot be passed.

7 Praise the Lord from the earth,
you sea monsters and all deeps,
8 fire and hail, snow and frost,
stormy wind fulfilling his command!

9 Mountains and all hills,
fruit trees and all cedars!
10 Wild animals and all cattle,
creeping things and flying birds!

11 Kings of the earth and all peoples,
princes and all rulers of the earth!
12 Young men and women alike,
old and young together!

13 Let them praise the name of the Lord,
for his name alone is exalted;
his glory is above earth and heaven.
14 He has raised up a horn for his people,
praise for all his faithful,
for the people of Israel who are close to him.
Praise the Lord!

Today’s Prayer:

The theme in the prayer diary of the Anglican mission agency USPG (United Society Partners in the Gospel) this week is ‘Turning Point,’ looking at the work of the Diocese of Kurunegala in the Church of Ceylon in Sri Lanka. This theme was introduced on Sunday.

Thursday 21 July 2022:

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

Let us pray for the children in the Diocese of Kurunegala, and across the Church of Ceylon.

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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