The Little Office Of Our Lady – At None: The Ninth Hour, pt 1. By E. L. Taunton.

After the introductory Prayers, Versicle, Hymn and Antiphon, the recital of the Gradual Psalms is continued.


Title. —A Song of Degrees.

Tomasi: That Christ may fill us with joy of eternal gladness. The voice of the Apostles to the Lord concerning the ungodly Jews. This, the seventh step, contains the consolation of the martyrs who, sowing in tears here for a time, shall reap eternal joys.

Venerable Bede : After captivity to sin, sweet is the ascent to the New Jerusalem. Delivered by the Divine pity the blessed souls in the first part of this Psalm give thanks for the grace which came after so much sin ; and in the second pray that future joy may crown their work of tears.

(1) When the Lord turned the captivity of Sion: then were  we made like men comforted.

Jerusalem above is free in the bliss of the angels ; but Sion here below is captive in the sins of men. When the Lord turned its captivity by proclaiming the forgiveness of sins, then were we as men comforted. Not altogether comforted, but only like it ; because comfort implies sorrow and tears which belong to our exile here and are not to be wiped away till we are again at home. Thus St. Augustine. In another sense the word is taken as telling of the wondering and hesitating joy of the Apostles in the Resurrection, when Christ had indeed turned the captivity of Sion, by His descent into hell bringing the waiting Patriarchs away with Him into the joy of Paradise, and still more when He ascended on high, leading Captivity captive. The Carthusian refers it to the coming of each ransomed soul out of the spiritual Babylon of sin, into the grace and glorious liberty of the children of God. In the word comforted we may see a reference to the Holy Ghost, the Comforter, Who acts as our Sanctifier in the sacraments and turns away the captivity of sin.

(2) Then shall our mouth be filled with joy : and our tongue with exultation.

Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh [Luke vi. 45.], says our Lord; and where the Holy Ghost dwells and rules there will be Liberty and the fruits of His presence. Now, according to St. Paul, the second of these fruits is joy [Gal. v. 22.] which is an inward consolation and gladness which comes to those souls who are united to God's will. Spiritual joy does not impede earthly sorrow, which comes from external objects. Our Lady at the foot of the Cross, although stricken with sorrow greater than any other creature bore, never lost her interior joy or allowed her will to swerve for a moment from its conformity to God's. It is this spirit of joy which is the secret of the happiness and light-heartedness of those who are really trying to serve God. Gloom and low spirits do not come from God. They show that something in ourself is at fault.

(3) Then shall they say among the heathen: The Lord hath done great things for them.

(4) Yea, the Lord hath done great things for us: we have become men rejoicing.

The return from the seventy years Captivity struck, indeed, the Gentiles as a wonder; but as St. Augustine says, the future shall they say implies what will yet come to pass : for neither at the first, nor at the Lord's Coming, nor in time to come, did or will all Gentiles accept the truth, but only certain among them who were moved by the holiness and works of His people.

Great things; not only as the Carmelite says, the miracles and preaching of the Apostles and the endurance of the Martyrs; but, as St. Bruno says, the obedience of body and soul to God, the heavenly conversation of those who truly turn to Him. Not only do these start the admiration of the Gentiles, but we ourselves, comparing our state in captivity with that under the Law of Liberty, are filled with astonishment and confess that the work is entirely God's, and contrary at once to our deservings and expectations. Thus Bellarmine. Gerohus makes a beautiful application of these last words by applying them to the souls in Purgatory and the saints above. These last without us, cannot be entirely perfect, and therefore follows :—

(5) Turn our captivity, 0 Lord : as a river in the south wind.

The primary sense shows that this Psalm was composed during the first migration after the decree of Cyrus, and that the first colony of the Jews, now safe at Jerusalem, pray that their brethren still in exile may be soon united to them. So in the mystical sense the citizens of the heavenly Jerusalem, together with us who are still exiles in the Babylon of this world, pray for our deliverance out of bondage and for the conversion of unbelievers.

As a river in the south wind. As a river frozen under the icy blasts of the north wind is set free by the genial warmth of the southern breeze and pours forth in a torrent, so here we get the idea of captivity broken, of sorrow turned into joy. This south wind, says St. Augustine, is the Holy Spirit Himself, of Whom it is written in the Canticles : Come Thou South Wind and blow upon -my garden, that the spices thereof may flow [iv. 16.]. And again : He bloweth with His Wind and the waters flow[Ps. cxlvii. 7.] What that means we learn in Ecclesiasticus: Thy sins also shall melt away, as the ice in the fire and in the fair weather [iii. 15.]. Where shall the torrent flow? All rivers run to the sea; and therefore our cry to the Lord when He has stirred us from our wintry sleep is : Direct the channel of our waters in the one true course.

(6) They that sow in tears: shall reap in joy.

(7) Going forth they went their way weeping: casting their seeds.

(8) But returning they shall come back with joy : bearing their sheaves.

There are two sowings, says the Apostle : one in the spirit, and one in the flesh. Each man shall reap as he has sown : of the flesh, corruption; of the spirit, life everlasting [Cf. Gal. vi. 8.]. Our Lord has taught us, Ye shall weep and lament, but the world shall rejoice; ye shall be sorrowful, but your sorrow shall turn into joy [John xvi. 20.]. Before Christ's coming, says Father Corder, the Jesuit, before He consecrated weeping by His own strong crying and tears, nothing but salt drops of bitter water flowed from the eyes of men, but now they are costly pearls, dear and precious in God's sight. Our tears are fivefold, says St. Augustine : tears of penance, tears of the fear of judgment, tears of weariness of exile, tears of compassion for others, tears of desire for heaven. St. Bernard in his sermon on St. Benedict says : O race of Adam, how many have been sowing in thee and what precious seed ! How terribly must they perish and how deservingly if such seed and the toil of the sowers at the same time should perish in thee. The whole Trinity sowed in our land, the Angels and Apostles sowed together, the Martyrs, Confessors and Virgins sowed too. The Father sowed Bread from heaven ; the Son, Truth ; the Holy Ghost, Charity. The Apostles went forth and wept, casting their seeds, but coming again they shall come with great joy bearing their sheaves. Two are the sheaves which thou seekest—honour and rest. They who sow and toil in lowliness shall reap honour and rest together. The Carmelite, with most commentators, refers the verse to the abundant reward and gladness of the righteous in the manifestation of the Son of Man, when the Sower, Who sowed the goodly seed of His Word in the field of this world, triumphs finally over the secret enemy who sowed the tares. In that day, the glad harvest time, the redeemed of the Lord shall return and come with singing unto Sion ; and everlasting joy shall be upon their head : they shall obtain gladness and joy : and sorrow and mourning shall flee away [Is. li. II.]. We are to expect the fruit of our labour when God calls to the harvest home, not before. Ours is to work and to work for Him. The result is in His hands; and He will draw the profit out of our labour when and how He pleases. Cast thy bread upon the running waters; thou shall find it after many days [Eccles. xi. I.]; for, We know in Whom we trust [2 Tim. i. 12.].


Glory be to the Father Who turneth the Captivity of Sion. Glory to the Son the Sower of good seed. Glory to the Holy Ghost the Joy of the ransomed people of God.

From - The Little Office of Our Lady; a treatise theoretical, practical, and exegetical - Taunton, Ethelred L. (Ethelred Luke), 1857-1907