PSALM CL. [The same writer says of this psalm : " It is the Song of the Church Triumphant when the number of the elect is made up, that is, when the soldier is crowned with victory and the exiled brought home."]
Tomasi : That Christ is to be praised in all His saints by spiritual harmony. The voice of Christ after overcoming the world, comforting them that rejoice in His Kingdom. Christ showeth praise in all. The Prophet urgeth posterity, as well as the living, to be instant in the duty of holy song. The voice of Christ rejoicing in His Kingdom. This last psalm has, on account of the Ten Commandments, Praise ye said ten times; and, because of the four Gospels, four things are mentioned, to wit : saints, the firmament, noble acts, and multitude. Finally, there are eight kinds of musical instruments mentioned ; because on the octave day of the first day Christ rose again, and taught us the resurrection of the dead, when every spirit, that is, Man made spiritual, shall praise the Lord.
Venerable Bede : The City of God is counselled that being gathered out of the compass of the world, it should sing praises to Lord with voice and mind. This psalm, lifted up to that harmonious country of all saints, ought not to have any division, because it hath brought the end of the whole with the might of the indivisible Trinity.
(1) O praise God in His saints ; O praise Him in the firmament of His power.
Our bodies are the temples of the Holy Ghost; and a pure soul is the truest sanctuary of the Lord, in which stands His spiritual Altar. How much more are they so when glorified in heaven, when corruptible has put on incorruption and mortality has put on immortality ? [i Cor. xv. 53.]. In praising His saints we are praising their Lord ; for all their holiness consists in imitating Him, and their power to do so is His grace.
The firmament of His power is His Sacred Death, by which He overcame the power of the evil one, and established His Church, against which the gates of hell shall never prevail.
(2) O praise Him in His noble deeds: Praise Him according to the multitude of His greatness.
Says Bellarmine: God is to be praised, not merely because He dwells in heaven, but because He dwells there as Almighty Ruler and Lord of all. And, says St. Bruno, we are here bidden to praise God for every great deed of His holiness or power wrought by His saints ; and the more eminent such appears the more bound are we to refer it to the Unseen Worker by and in Whose Name they were all done. When the saints in glory look back and see how His mercy hath followed them all the days of their life [Ct. Ps. xxii. 6.], and how He hath done great things in them, their praise becomes more ardent and more intense. Or, translating the words literally, in His virtues we may take them as meaning that the saints, wrapt in adoration of Jesus, are ravished at the glory of the virtues of the Sacred Humanity of Whose fulness they have all received, and therefore praise God for the humility of Jesus, for the charity of Jesus, for the zeal of Jesus, for the patience of Jesus, and for His other virtues.
According to the multitude of His greatness. How can we do this ? St. Gregory the Great tells us : We most truly give in full the acts of the Divine power when we know ourselves unable to give them fully. We speak most eloquently when we are silent in amazement at them. When our feebleness tries to recount the works of God, the way to use the tongue is to praise by adequate silence what we are not able adequately to comprehend. He praises God according to the multitude of His greatness who feels that he utterly breaks down in an effort at fulfilling His praise.
(3) O praise Him in the sound of the trumpet: praise Him upon the lute and the harp.
The trumpet is the war-like instrument and calls to battle or proclaims victory. Hence the trumpet praises Christ as He is our Captain and King. The trumpet represents also preachers and teachers, as it is written : Cry aloud and spare not: lift up thy voice as a trumpet [Is. Iviii. i.]. The trumpet must be held with the hand ; and so the preacher must do, as well as speak. Its mouthpiece is smaller than the bell from which the sound issues ; so the preacher ought to be far stricter with himself than with his hearers. The trumpet is also the call of the Last Judgment, when the praise of God will be manifested to all the world.
The lute, or psaltery, which was used in religious music, denotes service to God ; and as it sounds from above, denotes the glorification of the soul.
The harp used at weddings and other festivals, praises Christ, the Bridegroom, and summons us to His Marriage Feast. Sounding from below, it praises Him for deliverance from sorrow and rejoices in the glorification of the body.
(4) Praise Him with timbrel and choir: praise Him with strings and pipe.
Timbrels, strained to the wood on every side, dry, and sounding with blows, serve as a type of the Martyrs and of all who are crucified to the world, uttering praise to God, most clearly when most severely afflicted.
Choir, denoting peaceful fellowship and harmonious action, which, St. Gregory reminds us, cannot be safely disregarded by those who play the timbrel of mortification.
Strings, thin and strained with great tension, are types of those who macerate the body with fasts and vigils and are tightly fastened by the nails of the Cross, straining upwards to God and giving forth sweet tones when touched by His fingers.
The pipe, or hand-organ, formed of several tubes of unequal lengths fastened together, signifies the Common Life, or the harmonious concord of different graces and virtues united by the bond of charity.
(5) O praise Him with well tuned cymbals: praise Him with loud cymbals : let every spirit praise the Lord.
Cymbals are always used in praise. They may fitly denote those who consider one another, to provoke to love and good works [Heb. x. 24.]. They are well-tuned from the holiness of their deeds and words in accordance with the Divine will; loud, in their clear boldness and in their full rejoicing. The two Testaments are well-tuned cymbals ; so also are the heart and lips of a saint in prayer. And when the two great choirs of angels and men shall join together, blending in concord and filling heaven and and earth with melody, then shall God be praised with loud cymbals.
Lest anything should be lacking, lest the understanding should fail to accompany the voice, the Psalmist ends his great song with the words : Let every spirit praise the Lord. St. Augustine thus interprets these words : Those who live the true life of the soul, who are spiritual, are here chiefly called on to praise the Lord, and to praise Him not here alone, where the timbrel and strings tell of mortification and suffering, and the cymbals of the need of mutual aid, but in the full glory of heaven, when the flesh, now incorruptible, and the spirit are agreed, and the song of one is that of both.
Glory be to the Father, Who spake the word, Who is the Maker of Israel, and Who abides in the firmament of His power : Glory to the Son, the Word by Whom all things are made, the King of the Children of Sion, Who by His virtues hath wrought the salvation of mankind: Glory to the Holy Ghost, Who came forth as a stormy wind to fulfil the Word to the Apostles, Who giveth honour unto His saints, and in Whose might every spirit saith, Alleluia.
From - The Little Office of Our Lady; a treatise theoretical, practical, and exegetical - Taunton, Ethelred L. (Ethelred Luke), 1857-1907