Circumdederunt. Psalm 18
The sorrows of death came about me; the pains of hell gat hold upon me: and in my tribulation I made my prayer unto the Lord, and he regarded my supplication out of his holy temple. I will love thee, O Lord my strength: the Lord is my stony rock, my fortress, and my Saviour. Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Ghost. As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be: world without end. Amen. The sorrows of death compassed me . . .
O LORD, we beseech thee favourably to hear the prayers of thy people; that we, who are justly punished for our offences, may be mercifully delivered by thy goodness, for the glory of thy Name; through Jesus Christ our Saviour, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Ghost ever, one God, world without end. Amen.
I Corinthians 9:24–27
Know ye not that they which run in a race run all, but one receiveth the prize? So run, that ye may obtain. And every man that striveth for the mastery is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a corruptible crown; but we an incorruptible. I therefore so run, not as uncertainly; so fight I, not as one that beateth the air: but I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection; lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway.
[Psalm 9] The Lord will be a refuge in the time of trouble; and they that know thy Name will put their trust in thee: for thou, Lord, hast never failed them that seek thee. For the poor shall not always be forgotten: the patient abiding of the meek shall not perish for ever: up, Lord, and let not man have the upper hand.
[Psalm 130] Out of the deep have I called unto thee, O Lord: Lord, hear my voice. O let thine ears consider well: the voice of my complaint. If thou, Lord, wilt be extreme to mark what is done amiss: O Lord, who may abide it? For there is mercy with thee: therefore shalt thou be feared.
St. Matthew 20:1–16
The kingdom of heaven is like unto a man that is an householder, which went out early in the morning to hire labourers into his vineyard. And when he had agreed with the labourers for a penny a day, he sent them into his vineyard. And he went out about the third hour, and saw others standing idle in the market-place, and said unto them; Go ye also into the vineyard, and whatsoever is right I will give you. And they went their way. Again he went out about the sixth and ninth hour, and did likewise. And about the eleventh hour he went out, and found others standing idle, and saith unto them, Why stand ye here all the day idle? They say unto him, Because no man hath hired us. He saith unto them, Go ye also into the vineyard; and whatsoever is right, that shall ye receive. So when even was come, the lord of the vineyard saith unto his steward, Call the labourers, and give them their hire, beginning from the last unto the first. And when they came that were hired about the eleventh hour, they received every man a penny. But when the first came, they supposed that they should have received more; and they likewise received every man a penny. And when they had received it, they murmured against the goodman of the house, saying, These last have wrought but one hour, and thou hast made them equal unto us, which have borne the burden and heat of the day. But he answered one of them, and said, Friend, I do thee no wrong: didst not thou agree with me for a penny? Take that thine is, and go thy way: I will give unto this last, even as unto thee. Is it not lawful for me to do what I will with mine own? Is thine eye evil, because I am good? So the last shall be first, and the first last: for many be called, but few chosen.
[Psalm 92:1] It is a good thing to give thanks unto the Lord: and to sing praises unto thy Name, O Most Highest.
[Psalm 31] Shew thy servant the light of thy countenance, and save me for thy mercies’ sake: let me not be confounded, O Lord, for I have called upon thee.
Below are plainsong renditions of the Psalms as published in the Saint Dunstan’s Plainsong Psalter.
Bach composed four cantatas for use on Septuagesima. In Ich bin vergnügt mit meinem Glücke, inspired by the Gospel reading for today, he explores the theme of grateful contentment for what God has given us. Read more and listen to a performance of this cantata here.