The Little Office Of Our Lady – At Vespers or Evensong, pt 2. By E. L. Taunton.


His left hand is under my head, and His right hand me. embraces me.

The gracious vision of the Maiden Mother bearing in her arms her Son Who tenderly embraces her is at once suggested by this Antiphon. If He in all the weakness and helplessness of babyhood clung to her and caressed her, how much more now does He in heaven reward her with His unspeakable love for all she did for Him on earth ? The thought of the dignity accruing to our Lady through the Divine Maternity gives a point to the Psalm which follows ; for she has been taken from her humility and set above the princes of heaven. She, the Virgin, has become the joyful mother of children, having borne us all in Jesus Christ. Therefore, as says St. Bernard, is she the happy soul resting on the heart of Christ and reposing in the arms of the Divine Word !




Tomasi: That Christ turneth the Church, long barren, into the fruitfulness of holiness. The voice of the Church with praise. The voice of the Church concerning her faithful ones.

Venerable Bede : The Prophet in the first part exhorts the devout children to offer praise to God and to proclaim Him in all the world. Secondly he does himself what he exhorts others to do. The calling of the New People.

(1) Praise the Lord ye children : O praise the Name of the Lord.

(2) Blessed be the Name of the Lord : from this time and for evermore.

A triple utterance of the Divine Name, the triple call to praise it, veils here the mystery of the Blessed Trinity. Ye children: St. Augustine bids us note purity, innocence, and docility are here denoted, not any special time of life ; as the Apostle says : Brethren, be not children in understanding; how-be it in malice be ye children; but in understanding be men [I Cor. xiv. 20.]. It is out of the mouths of such babes and sucklings as these that He hath perfected praise, as He accepted that of the children in the Temple when the voices of men were silent.

From this time forth, God's praises are not to cease with our advancing years. The words do not mean that He begins to be praised only now; but that each of us makes a beginning of joining in the hymn of creation ; while if we only persevere in His service our song shall go on for evermore in heaven.

(3) From the rising of the sun to the going down : the Lord's Name is worthy of praise.

Here is a further instruction. God's praise is to be not merely ceaseless but universal; not restricted by the limits of Judea, but extending to the utmost bounds of the earth. This is achieved by the Sacrifice of the Mass which was foretold by the prophet Malachias : From the rising of the sun till the going down of the same My Name shall be great among the Gentiles: and in every place incense shall be offered to My Name and a clean oblation : For My Name shall be great among the heathen, saith the Lord of Hosts [Mal. i. II.]. In which prophecy there is exactly the same three-fold proclamation of the Holy Name, pointing, as in the Psalm, to the same mystery. And we, too, says Cardinal Hugo, in life and in death, in the morning and the evening of our mortal career, praise the Lord Jesus for His arising as the Sun of Righteousness in His Nativity, His setting in the ruddy glow of His Passion.

(4) The Lord is high above all the heathen : and His glory above the heavens.

By the preaching of the Gospel the Lord is high above all the heathen, for His Name is known and loved by those who heretofore were darkness, but now are light.

His glory above the heavens. We may here see a reference to the angelic songs at the Nativity, and again to the renewed paean of triumph at the Ascension, as well as to His Mission of the Paraclete thereupon to the lower heavens, the Apostles, who brought the Gentiles to confess His Name.

(5) Who is like the Lord our God, Who dwells on high : and regardeth the things that are lowly in heaven and earth ?

What are the things that are lowly in heaven f There is not a creature there who is not penetrated through and through with humility. Now humility or lowliness means an acknowledgment that we are creatures having nothing of ourselves and owing all to God's love. The Prophet says : Thus saith the High and Lofty One that inhabiteth eternity: Whose Name is Holy ; I dwell in the high and holy place, with him also that is of a contrite and humble spirit; to revive the spirit of the lowly and to revive the heart of the contrite ones [Is. Ivii. 15.]. If these words are true of God's saints, how much more perfectly are they fulfilled in her who, filled with the same Spirit that inspired this Psalm, said : He hath regarded the lowliness of His handmaiden [Luke i. 48.] ; and how much more of Him Who, as God, ceased not to be in heaven while as Man He was the pattern of humility : Learn of Me because I am meek and lowly of heart [Matt. xi. 29.].

(6) He taketh the needy out of the dust: and raiseth up the poor man from the dunghill.

(7) That He may set him with the princes : even with the princes of His people.

These words are taken almost without variation from the Song of Anna [I Kings ii. 8.], and are recalled in the Song of our Lady. The needy — the poor man. Some commentators take these of Christ Himself, that Poor One Who had nowhere to lay His head, and Who was abased to the lowest in His Passion, becoming a worm and no man [Ps. xxi. 6.], and then by His Resurrection was set on high. The earth and the dunghill are taken by some to refer respectively to the Jews and Gentiles; and they tell us that Christ chooses His elect from both these indiscriminately, to set them with His angels and saints in heaven. Referring the verse to our Lord, St. Bernard reminds us of His Birth in the manger. He was literally brought down to the humiliation of the dunghill, whence He was exalted again to riches and honour. So we are reminded that humility and penance are the first steps towards being lifted up by the Lord and set among His princes. These verses find a special echo in the souls of those who have been called to the religious life. Taken out of their own nothingness and misery, God has set them among His chosen ones; here on earth ruling, as princes, their bodies by enlightened Reason, and in heaven reigning with Him for ever. A Vocation is indeed a fellowship with the saints and a principality exceeding all earthly honours.

(6) He maketh the barren woman to keep the house : a joyful mother of children.

This verse is taken in three senses. The first refers to the Gentiles brought into the Church. Isaias prophesies thus : Sing 0 barren, thou that didst not bear: break forth into singing and cry aloud, thou that didst not travail with child : for more are the children of the desolate than the children of the married wife, saith the Lord. Enlarge the place of thy tent, and let them stretch forth the curtains of thine habitations : spare not, lengthen thy cords, and strengthen thy stakes. For thou shall break forth on the right hand and on the left; and thy seed shall inherit the Gentiles, and make the desolate cities to be inhabited. Fear not; for thou shall not be ashamed : neither be thou confounded: for thou shall not be put to shame: for thou shall forget the shame of thy youth, and shall not remember the reproach of thy widowhood any more; For thy Maker is thine husband: the Lord of Hosts is His Name: and thy Redeemer the Holy One of Israel: The God of the whole earth shall He be called [liv. 1-5.]. The second interpretation is of a soul hitherto unfruitful in good works, but now wedded to Christ by penance and love and bringing forth abundant fruits to Christ; as we see in the religious orders and the lives of the saints. The third interpretation is of the fruitful virginity of our ever dear and blessed Lady who has become, at the foot of the Cross, the Mother of Christians.


Glory be to the Father Who dwelleth on high ; Glory to the Son Who lifts us up from the dunghill ; Glory to the Holy Ghost Who maketh the barren to keep house.

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