Psalm 45, 2 Sep ’18

Richard II, king of England receiving his bride, the princess Isabel, from her father, Charles VI, king of France: Jean Froissart, Chroniques, (Bruges), c. 1480-1494, Royal 14 D. vi, f. 268v British Library

Psalm 45, a tribute to the wedding of a king, is the closest we get to a love song in the Psalter. This poem by the sons of Korah is addressed first to the king, probably Solomon, then in a second voice to the bride. (v. 10) Hebrews 1 quotes a clutch of psalms, including verse 6 of Ps 45 in relation to Jesus: ‘Your throne endures forever’.

Being more in the style of an official paean, it is rather in the formal style of the royal wedding depicted. It may be far from the poetical and romantic heights of the Song of Solomon, however the formal reminders of the importance of truth, equity, love and loyalty are lightened by some sweet lines:

All your garments are fragrant with myrrh, aloes and cassia, and the music of strings from the ivory palaces makes you glad (v. 8)

Everett in The Emergent Psalter picks up these nice lines for his antiphon. Others —  such as the very simple home-grown refrain illustrated below, and the fragment of Martin Luther’s Ein Feste Burg in Psalms for All Seasons 45B— focus on divine goodness.Ps45 Your throne

The alternate refrain in PFAS 45B is by John Bell. Creative as always, he stretches his interpretation widely and borrows and bends a phrase from the Song of Solomon 8:6 in his refrain:

Take O take me as I am; summon out what I shall be; set your seal upon my heart and live in me.

The alternative reading includes Psalm 145; see an earlier post for July 2014.

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