After the same introductory Prayers, Hymn and Antiphon (the third of Lauds according to the season), the Psalmody begins and three more of the Gradual Psalms are said.
Title. —A Song of Degrees.
Tomasi: That Christ having pity on us may deliver us from the contempt of the proud. The voice of Christ to the Father, or of the Church to Christ. The first step is faith, the second hope, and the third charity ; and now here the fourth declares the perseverance of him that prayeth.
Venerable Bede : He who previously lifted his eyes to the hills now raiseth his heart to the Lord Himself. He first engages in persevering prayers that he may retain the gifts he has acquired by the Royal bounty. In the second he makes supplication.
(1) Unto Thee I lift up mine eyes : O Thou that dwellest in the heavens.
There is a great advance made in this Psalm, says St. Hilary, since, from merely lifting up the eyes unto the hills, the singer raises them to God Himself Who is to be found everywhere. The Carmelite tells us that the eyes are the contemplative and the active life ; the first to learn His will, the second to do it. As the heavens are above the earth so is the success we seek from God above anything this earth can give.
(2) Behold, even as the eyes of servants : look unto the hands of their masters.
(3) As the eyes of a maiden unto the hands of her mistress: even so our eyes wait on the Lord God until He have mercy on us.
Servants look for the slightest gesture which indicates their master's will; they also look to their master's hand for reward and punishment. Why are men-servants and women-servants mentioned ? That the share of both sexes in the duties and rewards of faithful service may be asserted ; then to teach that the strong and the weak are alike called to bring forth good works. And servants are spoken of in the plural, and handmaiden in the singular. The reason of this, says Cardinal Hugo, is to teach us that all the various mighty nations of the world, with all their masculine vigour, are to be united in that one Church which is the maiden before being the Bride of the Lamb.
Until He have mercy on us. This does not mean that we are to cease looking unto Him when He has shown us His pity. If we always keep our look upon His Face we will see His image there and we shall be like Him ; for we shall see Him as He is, and behold our own likeness in His glorious Face [I John iii. 2.]. Even here on earth we may look to His hand, by seeking to know His Will through careful and assiduous study of the Holy Scriptures He has given for our learning, that guiding our conduct thereby we may please Him and obtain His mercy. Thus St. Gregory the Great.
(4) Have mercy upon us O Lord, have mercy upon us ; for we are filled exceedingly with scorn.
(5) Our soul is exceeding filled : opprobrium from the rich and despitefulness from the proud.
The Apostles after the triumph of the Resurrection looked for a speedy restoration of the kingdom of Israel; yet almost their first experience after Pentecost was the imprisonment and scourging of two of their number, and their later history one of them describes as being made a spectacle unto the. world and Angels, made as the refuse of the world, and the off-scouring of all, even until now [Cor. iv. 13.]. And in the Church to-day Holy Poverty meets with the scornful rebuke of the rich, and Obedience with the contempt of the proud. It is when the world treats our lives as folly that we turn with greater confidence to our Master Whose bounteous hand is never closed to us, Whose aid is always nigh.
Glory be to the Father Who dwelleth in heaven ; Glory to the Son the Hand of the Lord ; Glory to the Holy Ghost Who comforts the despised.
From - The Little Office of Our Lady; a treatise theoretical, practical, and exegetical - Taunton, Ethelred L. (Ethelred Luke), 1857-1907