Saturday, April 19, 2008

Psalm prayers and lesson for Compline

The lesson at Compline is typically a snippet of a verse of the NT - meant to remind us of the Gospel and our hope. But what if we used a snippet of a Psalm? Tomorrow's Next week's lectionary includes Psalm 66. How's this for a lesson:
We went through fire and through water; yet you have brought us out to a spacious place. I will come into your house with burnt offerings; I will pay you my vows.
And a reflection on it later as a prayer from the Countess of Pembroke:
You folk his flock come then employ
In lauding him your songes of joy
On God, our God, your voices spending,
Still praying, praising, never ending,
For he our Life hath us re-given,
Nor would he let our goings slide;
Though for our triall neerly driven,
Yea silver like in furnace tryde.

For God, thou didst our feete innett
And pinching saddles on us sett
Nay (which is worse to be abidden),
Ev'n on our heads a man hath ridden.
Hee rode us through where fiers flashed;
Where swelling streames did rudely roare;
Yet scorched thus, yet we thus washed,
Were sett by thee on plenties shore.

I therefore to thy house will go,
To pay and offer what I owe:
To pay my vowes, my lippes then vowed
When under grief my body bowed
...
Praise, praise him then, for what is left me,
But praise to him: who what I praid
Rejected not, nor hath bereft me
My hopeful helpe, his mercies aid.
There are several prayers based on the Psalm in Neale and Littledale. Neale adds all the collects he can find from the traditions that he documented. I find them not untrue in general, but I find them not as true to the positive nature of the Psalm itself which is one of invitation to praise - as Psalm 100 and others.

Example of a Mozarabic prayer based on this psalm
Grant, O God, that we believing in thee, go into thine house with burnt offering, may serve thee with dedication of our works and sanctification of the body, that so thou mayest not cast out our prayers, nor turn thy mercy from us, whilst thou dost inspire us to seek that which thou knowest to be good for us.
How would I pray this psalm?

How do I dare speak of you, O God of Israel, who have shown me the fire of the love in your own burnt offering, who have brought me into your presence and given me a claim who had no claim on you. Yet I will speak, and will not be overwhelmed by flood or even a lake of fire, for you have shown, among those who are hurt, that you hold us in life who believe and who could not have lifted up ourselves. How will I describe the wealth of your place to others - it can only be by your invitation to sing that goes out to all the world. So, O God, I who made you no promise as Jacob did, will pay my vows in the promises you have made to me and which you have fulfilled in the gift of the accepted offering of the Pascal Lamb. So I, by your Spirit, make my body, your house, a living sacrifice acceptable through him in whose name we pray, even Jesus Christ our Lord.

2 comments:

Glyn Davies said...

Does anyone know the (presumably Latin) originals of the collects for Compline beginning "Lord Jesus Christ, who at the sad hour of compline" & "Be present, O merciful Lord and protect us" ?

Bob MacDonald said...

Glyn - I am not familiar with the Latin you are searching for. The second of the incipit's is one of the compline paryers in the service we use (PB) but not the first - though it has a distant ring for me in another context. I put your question to the biblicalist at Yahoo - maybe someone will answer there.