Domine, ne longe. Psalm 22.
O Lord, remove not thy succour afar from me; have respect to my defence, and hear me: deliver me from the mouth of the lion; yea, from the horns of the unicorns hast thou regarded my cry. My God, my God, look upon me; why hast thou forsaken me: and art so far from my health, and from the words of my complaint? O Lord, remove not . . .
Almighty and everlasting God, who, of thy tender love towards mankind, hast sent thy Son, our Saviour Jesus Christ, to take upon him our flesh, and to suffer death upon the cross, that all mankind should follow the example of his great humility; Mercifully grant, that we may both follow the example of his patience, and also be made partakers of his resurrection; through the same Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: but made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: and being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name: that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
[Psalm 73] Thou hast holden me by my right hand: thou shalt guide me with thy counsel, and after that receive me with glory. Truly God is loving unto Israel: even unto such as are of a clean heart. Nevertheless, my feet were almost gone: my treadings had well-nigh slipt. And why, I was grieved at the wicked, I do also see the ungodly in such prosperity.
[Psalm 22] My God, my God, look upon me: why hast thou forsaken me? And art so far from my health: and from the words of my complaint? O my God, I cry in the daytime, but thou hearest not: and in the night season also I take no rest. And thou continuest holy, O thou Worship of Israel. Our fathers hoped in thee: they trusted in thee, and thou didst deliver them. They called upon thee, and were holpen: they put their trust in thee, and were not confounded. But as for me, I am a worm, and no man: a very scorn of men, and the outcast of the people. All they that see me laugh me to scorn: they shoot out their lips, and shake their heads, saying: He trusted in God, that he would deliver him: let him deliver him, if he will have him. They stand staring and looking upon me: they part my garments among them, and cast lots upon my vesture. Save me from the lion’s mouth: thou hast heard me also from among the horns of the unicorns. O praise, the Lord, ye that fear him: magnify him, all ye of the seed of Jacob. They shall be counted unto the Lord for a generation: they shall come, and the heavens shall declare his righteousness. Unto a people that shall be born: whom the Lord hath made.
St. Matthew 27:1–54
When the morning was come, all the chief priests and elders of the people took counsel against Jesus to put him to death: and when they had bound him, they led him away, and delivered him to Pontius Pilate the governor. Then Judas, which had betrayed him, when he saw that he was condemned, repented himself, and brought again the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and elders, saying, I have sinned in that I have betrayed the innocent blood. And they said, What is that to us? see thou to that. And he cast down the pieces of silver in the temple, and departed, and went and hanged himself. And the chief priests took the silver pieces, and said, It is not lawful for to put them into the treasury, because it is the price of blood. And they took counsel, and bought with them the potter’s field, to bury strangers in. Wherefore that field was called, The field of blood, unto this day. Then was fulfilled that which was spoken by Jeremy the prophet, saying, And they took the thirty pieces of silver, the price of him that was valued, whom they of the children of Israel did value; and gave them for the potter’s field, as the Lord appointed me. And Jesus stood before the governor: and the governor asked him, saying, Art thou the King of the Jews? And Jesus said unto him, Thou sayest. And when he was accused of the chief priests and elders, he answered nothing. Then said Pilate unto him, Hearest thou not how many things they witness against thee? And he answered him to never a word; insomuch that the governor marvelled greatly. Now at that feast the governor was wont to release unto the people a prisoner, whom they would. And they had then a notable prisoner, called Barabbas. Therefore when they were gathered together, Pilate said unto them, Whom will ye that I release unto you? Barabbas, or Jesus which is called Christ? For he knew that for envy they had delivered him. When he was set down on the judgment seat, his wife sent unto him, saying, Have thou nothing to do with that just man: for I have suffered many things this day in a dream because of him. But the chief priests and elders persuaded the multitude that they should ask Barabbas, and destroy Jesus. The governor answered and said unto them, Whether of the twain will ye that I release unto you? They said, Barabbas. Pilate saith unto them, What shall I do then with Jesus which is called Christ? They all say unto him, Let him be crucified. And the governor said, Why, what evil hath he done? But they cried out the more, saying, Let him be crucified. When Pilate saw that he could prevail nothing, but that rather a tumult was made, he took water, and washed his hands before the multitude, saying, I am innocent of the blood of this just person: see ye to it. Then answered all the people, and said, His blood be on us, and on our children. Then released he Barabbas unto them: and when he had scourged Jesus, he delivered him to be crucified. Then the soldiers of the governor took Jesus into the common hall, and gathered unto him the whole band of soldiers. And they stripped him, and put on him a scarlet robe. And when they had platted a crown of thorns, they put it upon his head, and a reed in his right hand: and they bowed the knee before him, and mocked him, saying, Hail, King of the Jews! And they spit upon him, and took the reed, and smote him on the head. And after that they had mocked him, they took the robe off from him, and put his own raiment on him, and led him away to crucify him. And as they came out, they found a man of Cyrene, Simon by name: him they compelled to bear his cross. And when they were come unto a place called Golgotha, that is to say, a place of a skull, they gave him vinegar to drink mingled with gall: and when he had tasted thereof, he would not drink. And they crucified him, and parted his garments, casting lots: that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet, They parted my garments among them, and upon my vesture did they cast lots. And sitting down they watched him there; and set up over his head his accusation written, THIS IS JESUS THE KING OF THE JEWS. Then were there two thieves crucified with him, one on the right hand, and another on the left. And they that passed by reviled him, wagging their heads, and saying, Thou that destroyest the temple, and buildest it in three days, save thyself. If thou be the Son of God, come down from the cross. Likewise also the chief priests mocking him, with the scribes and elders, said, He saved others; himself he cannot save. If he be the King of Israel, let him now come down from the cross, and we will believe him. He trusted in God; let him deliver him now, if he will have him: for he said, I am the Son of God. The thieves also, which were crucified with him, cast the same in his teeth. Now from the sixth hour there was darkness over all the land unto the ninth hour. And about the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying, Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani? that is to say, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me? Some of them that stood there, when they heard that, said, This man calleth for Elias. And straightway one of them ran, and took a spunge, and filled it with vinegar, and put it on a reed, and gave him to drink. The rest said, Let be, let us see whether Elias will come to save him. Jesus, when he had cried again with a loud voice, yielded up the ghost. And, behold, the veil of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom; and the earth did quake, and the rocks rent; and the graves were opened; and many bodies of the saints which slept arose, and came out of the graves after his resurrection, and went into the holy city, and appeared unto many. Now when the centurion, and they that were with him, watching Jesus, saw the earthquake, and those things that were done, they feared greatly, saying, Truly this was the Son of God.
[Psalm 69] Thy rebuke hath broken my heart, I am full of heaviness: I looked for some to have pity on me, but there was no man: neither found I any to comfort me; they gave me gall to eat, and when I was thirsty they gave me vinegar to drink.
St. Matthew 26
O my Father, if this cup may not pass away from me, except I drink it: thy will be done.
Below are plainsong renditions of the Psalms as published in the Saint Dunstan’s Plainsong Psalter.
MONDAY BEFORE EASTER
TUESDAY BEFORE EASTER
WEDNESDAY BEFORE EASTER
The Offertory for Palm Sunday is a text taken from Psalm 69, a psalm that details the suffering of a man who is being unjustly and cruelly persecuted. The first half of the psalm describes in detail the anguish experienced by the victim of this abuse, while the second half calls for God’s justice to be visited upon the perpetrators of this maltreatment. The text sung as today’s Offertory is from the last two verses of the first half of the psalm:
Thy rebuke hath broken my heart, I am full of heaviness:
I looked for some to have pity on me, but there was no man:
neither found I any to comfort me;
they gave me gall to eat,
and when I was thirsty they gave me vinegar to drink.
Of course, Psalm 69 anticipates the torment of Jesus at his crucifixion. In his commentary on the Psalms, Derek Kidner writes: “This psalm reveals a vulnerable man: one who could not shrug off slander, betrayal or self-accusation, as a hard or self-absorbed person might, and whose sense of justice had not been dulled. His prayers and curses both alike spring from this personal and moral sensitivity, and the New Testament sees Christ prefigured in the singer’s zeal for God’s house and in his sufferings.”
But whereas the Psalmist calls for God’s judgment on his persecutors, Jesus pleaded with his Father to forgive them.
Perhaps because of the dramatic power of this text, and the heightened sense of tension in the liturgy of Palm Sunday, a number of composers have set this text to music. Most notable is the setting by Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina (1525–1594), a work that our choir has sung many times on Palm Sunday. Below is a recording of a performance by The Sixteen, conducted by Harry Christophers. The Latin text with English translation is provided below the embedded video.
Improperium expectavit cor meum et miseriam
My heart expected reproach and misery
et sustinui qui simul mecum contristaretur et non fuit;
and I desired one who would grieve with me and there was none:
consolantem me quæsivi et non inveni.
I sought one to console me, and I found none:
et dederunt in escam meam fel,
and they gave me gall as my food,
et in siti mea potaverunt me aceto.
and in my thirst they gave me vinegar to drink.