AT LAUDS, OR MORNING SONG.
THE original idea of the office of Lauds, which, together with Vespers, are the original hours of the Cursus, was that of honouring the Resurrection of our Lord. It was the morning prayer of the Sunday, a day kept holy by the Apostles in honour of the Resurrection ; and the Psalms we are about to consider are those which, from the earliest days, have been used for this office. In "The Little Office of our Lady," the Church sets before us, at this hour, the reward of eternal Life which she gained and which is to be ours; that is to say, the Resurrection as it affects us. So from the beginning of the day we have our mind directed to the great goal towards which we must strive.
Mary is assumed into heaven: the angels rejoice, and praising, they bless the Lord.
In the first Antiphon the Assumption is celebrated; and we are called to join our voices with the angels who rejoice and bless God for taking our ever dear and blessed Lady to heaven, body and soul, and for making her their Queen. The angels will also rejoice, when we, at the Last Day, are assumed, body and soul, into heaven, to make up the number of the Elect. The Assumption of Our Lady is the image of ours; even as hers was modelled on that of the Resurrection and Ascension of her Divine Son.
Title. —A Praise of a Song for David himself, on the Day before the Sabbath when the earth was established.
Tomasi: That Christ, having overcome Death, put on the glory of the Resurrection. The voice of the Church concerning the Kingdom of Christ. Of the Birth of Christ and His first Coming.
Venerable Bede : For David is suitably applied to Christ. The question is raised how he can say that the earth was established on the Day before the Sabbath, that is, on the sixth day of the week, seeing that we read in Genesis that the dry land appeared on the third day ; but here we understand earth to be man, to whom is said : Earth thou art, and unto earth thou shalt return. And as he was made on the sixth day by God the Creator, so, too, in the sixth age of the world he was stablished from the seed of David by the same God and Creator; for then was the earth stablished when belief in Him was confirmed for mankind. And therefore the Praise is of His holy Incarnation which is sung in the course of this psalm. The first passage describes His beauty, His strength, His works, His might, His truth; and lastly, the praise of His house which it becomes to rejoice with everlasting gladness.
(1) The Lord reigneth and hath put on beauty : the Lord hath put on strength and hath girded Himself.
The Psalmist, as with a herald's voice, proclaims to all men that the Lord hath taken the majesty of a King; and after defeating in battle and casting out the prince of this world, hath reduced under His sway the Kingdom which was always His rightful possession ; so under the type of a King, the Psalmist declares that the Lord hath put on beauty. What is this beauty ? It is the beauty of the all-glorious Body of our Risen Lord, immortal and impassible ; a beauty of which the Glory of Thabor was but a glimpse ; a beauty which now ravishes angels and saints. He has put on strength also ; for is He not now a Conqueror, having overcome sin and death and broken the iron bars in pieces, and shaken the brazen gates [Cf. Ps. cvi. 16] ? Epiphanius refers the beauty to the Incarnation ; the strength to the Resurrection. On which St. Augustine says : When our Lord came on earth some heard Him gladly ; and to these He appeared in His beauty; while others reviled and slandered Him, and these saw Him for their punishment clothed in strength. It is so even now wherever His Gospel is preached, according to St. Paul: We are unto God a sweet savour of Christ, in them that are saved, and in them that perish; to the one we are the savour of death, and to the other the savour of life unto life [2 Cor. ii. 15.]. Our Blessed Lord girded Himself in the might of humility when He stooped to wash the feet of the Disciples. He clothed Himself with beauty and strength, in the holiness and boldness of those saints whom He joined to Himself, especially the Apostles ; when He girded Himself to the task of establishing His kingdom on earth. These were His royal people, dyed in His own Blood, as He was lifted, King of the Jews, on the throne of the Cross; and the valour of His martyrs, yea and of her, their Queen, who stood beneath the Cross, was the strength that compassed Him about; for all came from Him. As He is King from all eternity, it is clear that we must interpret this reigning, of which the Psalmist speaks, of the Incarnation. His most Sacred Body is called beauty, because of showing us His image, because of its sinlessness, because of the loving-kindness towards us testified in the mystery, and because it is the direct work of the Spirit of all beauty and love, the Holy Ghost. Wherefore it is said of our Lord : Thou art fairer than the children of men [Ps. xliv-3.], and of His girding Himself that: Righteousness shall be the girdle of His loins, and faithfulness the girdle of His reins [Isaias xi. 5.]. This is the girdle wherewith He complies with that invocation : Gird Thee with Thy sword upon Thy thigh, 0 Thou most mighty [Ps. xliv. 4.], as He goes armed with the Spirit of God to receive for Himself the Kingdom.
(2) He hath made the world so sure that it cannot be moved.
The world, tossed about in the uncertainty of belief, and left to itself that it might know the need of a Redeemer, He has now made sure by founding its belief on the Resurrection ; because now as worship is paid to the true God it has been given the steadfastness of Truth. Then, again, this King Whose beauty and strength we celebrate, is the eternal God Who made this world so sure, Who rules it and Who has loved it so that He has redeemed it. The Carthusian points out that this world, which he takes for the Church, and which is built on the Resurrection (If Christ be not risen then is our preaching-vain and your faith is also vain) I Cor. xv. 14.], cannot be moved; for it is founded on the Rock. Christ establishes His chosen in faith so perfectly that they cannot be moved by any temptation, or fear, to fall from Him by violence from without.
(3) Ever since then hath Thy throne been prepared: Thou art from everlasting.
Then, that is, from the making of the round world so sure. The throne of our King is everlasting ; and as St. Bonaventure says, all the hoarded wisdom of eternity is His very Own. His seat, says the Carthusian with the Carmelite, is five-fold : His divine throne, co-equal with the Father : for thus saith the Lord ; The heaven is My throne and earth My footstool [Is. Ixvi. I.] ; His hallowed resting-place in the most pure womb of His Mother ; His cross ; the hearts of all who love Him ; and the throne of Doom. The latter thrones were prepared and predestinated for Him since the world began, because the Creation and Fall of man necessitated His coming in the flesh ; but He Himself does not begin then ; for co-equal and consubstantial with the Father, He is from everlasting; Bellarmine says, Is, not with the mere fact of existence, but with that fulness of Life which the self-existing God possesses and from which we have our being.
(4) The floods have risen, O Lord: the floods have lifted up their voice.
(5) The floods have lifted up their waves from the voices of many waters.
(6) The liftings up of the sea are wonderful: the Lord is wonderful on high.
Herein, says Lorin, we have set before us the roar and tumult of Jews and pagans against the new Kingdom of Christ; and the climax of the triple repetition denotes the gathering force of the deluge : first, the angry commotion; then the loud accusations; lastly, the wild tumult; all too weak to resist the eye and voice of Him Who rebuketh the winds and waves, saying, Peace be still [Mark iv. 39.]. The water in the fourth verse is taken of rivers ; while, in the fifth, of the sea ; and so, more than one commentator has seen here a rivalry and opposition between the sweet waters of the one and the salt billows of the other. They will have it, with St. Augustine, that the rivers flow from the well-head of living waters, that they are the rivers of that flood which makes glad the city of God [Ps. xlv. 4.], swollen by the descending rain of Pentecost, the Apostles themselves, lifting up their voices as of many waters to proclaim that the risen Lord reigneth; lifting up their waves to sweep away every barrier to the triumphant advance of His Church. Against them rise up in resistance the waves of the sea trying to beat back that flood of sweet waters poured into their salt bosom ; but vainly, for wonderful as are the liftings up of that wild sea of human rage, more wonderful still in the highest is the Lord Who is throned over all; and through His mercy these liftings up of the very waves became wonderful in grace, by the conversion of the raging heathen into meek disciples of the Lamb, lifting them up to the very heavens ; and that from the voices of many waters, the voices made to Him from the countless baptismal fonts in divers nations of the earth.
(7) Thy testimonies are made exceeding sure : holiness becometh Thy house for ever.
The Carthusian says on this verse : Whatever things the types and prophecies of the Old Testament, the words of the Evangelists, the teachings of the Apostles, the articles of the Creeds allege concerning Christ, the Lord, belonging as they do to faith, though incapable of proof by natural reason (as dealing with things hoped for and unseen), are proved by the marvellous works of the Lord Himself, and yet more by His patient life and painful death. His predictions, too, are fulfilled, telling the disciples that they should have tribulations in this world ; and therefore they look for the accomplishment of the remainder of His prophecy, the victory and peace which He promised them in Himself. And because this is so, because exceeding sure are His testimonies, Holiness becometh Thy house ; that is, says Agelli [Bishop of Acerno in 1608. He wrote a Commentary of considerable value.], it is the fit and peculiar attribute of that sacred shrine of His most pure Body wherein the Godhead dwelt; it is the fit adornment of the soul of our ever dear and blessed Lady who for nine months bore her Maker ; it is the peculiar and distinguishing mark of the Church ; it is the token of Christians who bear in mind the Apostle's saying : Know ye not that ye are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you ? [I Cor. iii. 16.] It is no mere passing holiness, but is for ever; hallowed by the abiding presence of God in the Beatific vision.
Glory be to the Father Who is from everlasting; Glory to the Son Who reigneth and hath girdeth Himself with strength ; Glory to the Holy Ghost Who is the Holiness of the House of God.
Mary, the Virgin, is taken up into the heavenly abode, where the King of Kings sits on His starry throne.
The Assumption was commemorated in the last Antiphon and now the Coronation. The creature is placed before the King of Kings in the highest part of heaven, and on her head He places the crown of justice laid up for her [2 Tim. iv. 8.], that crown of stars seen by St. John [Apoc. xii. i.], The throne is the symbol of God's might, and, like the crown, it is starry. The lifting up of the creature, so far above Nature, is the work of Divine Power. Surely at the moment, when our ever dear and blessed Lady was crowned, and thus had the seal put upon all the works of Divine Grace that since her Conception had been wrought in her soul, she must have recalled these words of the Magnificat: He that is mighty hath done great things to me. . . He hath exalted the humble [Luke i. 49, 52.]. So this thought of the Crown fittingly attunes our mind to the Psalm of praising which follows.
From - The Little Office of Our Lady; a treatise theoretical, practical, and exegetical - Taunton, Ethelred L. (Ethelred Luke), 1857-1907