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Fr Peter's commentary on the Offertory for Pentecost

Updated: Nov 30, 2020

Psalm 67, verses 29-30

‘Summon forth your might, O God:

Your might which you have shown for us.

From your temple high in Jerusalem,

Kings will come to you bringing their tribute.’

Abbot Gregory Polan. Revised Grail Psalter. Paulist Press 2010.

Show forth, O God, show forth your might,

Your might, O. God, which you shown for us.

For the sake of your temple high in Jerusalem

May kings come to you bringing their tribute.

Grail Psalter. The Grail (England). Harper Collins 1963.

Summon thy might, O God;

Show thy strength, O God, thou hast wrought for us.

Because of thy temple at Jerusalem

Kings bear gift to thee.

Revised Standard version 1952

Confirm this, O God, which thou hast wrought for us:

From thy temple, which is in Jerusalem kings shall offer present to thee,

Dominic Johner OSB

Confirm, O God, that which you have accomplished in our midst;

From your holy temple which is in Jerusalem, kings shall offer presents to you, alleluia.

Gregorian Missal Solesmes 2012

It is interesting to compare various translations of this psalm. Konrad Schaefer OSB, (Psalms, Liturgical Press 2001) writes; Psalm 68 (67) has an unusual number of uncertain lines, rare words and uses allusive and shifting styles, which make it impossible to arrive at a commonly accepted translation, Furthermore, the images, details, and references are enigmatic’. This is a timely reminder to me that we are dealing here with poetry.

The psalm depicts salvation history as a solemn procession of God. ‘Make a highway for him who rides on the clouds, the psalm declares in v5, ‘God leads prisoners forth into freedom v7 and so on’ The victory parade advances from Egypt, through Sinai towards mount Sion and the temple in Jerusalem. The openness of the imagery enables it to be applied to any generation of God’s people. In our verses the image seem to shift from God’s mighty procession through history to the procession of kings to God bearing gifts. God seems to be implored to continue to be the champion of his people.

One consideration for us should be the composers’ intentions in their use of this chant in the liturgy. We sing this chant now during the offertory procession and the offering of the gifts. Our gifts offered from all that God has given us. But by a wonderful exchange they become God’s gift of himself for us and his victory for us present here sacramentally. As we sing this antiphon we too may ask with wonderful confidence that God confirm and strengthen the power of his Spirit among his people. As we gather in Church, especially when celebrating ‘ad orientem’ we seem to make up a procession of God’s people. There is another important consideration for us to have in mind; that group of the newly baptised and confirmed at Easter, and possibly in this Mass. May God, the father of the orphan and defender of the widow v6, the one who gives the desolate a home v7 who bears our burdens v20b and as St Paul says quoting this psalm ascended on high making captivity captive and giving gifts to his people (Ephesians 4:7-8), grant us his Holy Spirit that we may worthily bless him.

That repeated phrase where we sing the flat below the top stave seems to give structure great beauty to this piece. There is a climax on the thought of what God has wrought in us which needs to be sung slowly and with great delicacy to avoid any harshness that might occlude the reverence and warmth of feeling of this piece. The second climax over Jerusalem is not as demanding as it comes very quickly down to the bottom stave. The notes over ‘sa’ should be sung lightly and simply to move the melody up and on to the full bar. As we sing of the munera we can think of the gifts brought to the altar which become the offering of Christ our King, a gift of salvation to us, bought at what cost; the gift life in the Holy Spirit.

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Makalita Kautoke
Makalita Kautoke
Jun 18, 2020

Thank you Fr Peter for enlightening my understanding on how to sing the chant with meaningful praise to God. It really makes a difference to how I sing the chants now. Also if it's possible to have a key of the symbols since I tend to forget what they symbolizes but it will be a great help.


Patrick Martin
Patrick Martin
Jun 01, 2020

Commenting on Fr Peter's post on the Offertory for Pentecost, Sue Morris writes:

Thank you for this interesting post. I looked at Psalm 67 (68) and found it is the long poetic psalm beginning with that wonderful invocation "May God arise, may his enemies be scattered, may his foes flee before him".

The post made me think about what is happening in the mass when the Offertory chant is sung, which is the lay faithful carrying the gifts of bread and wine to offer to the priest. The 'General Instruction of the Roman Missal' (GIRM) describes this as a "procession". I haven't thought much about this before, that procession is a sacred action, and embarrassingly I think the Offertory…

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