Exaudi, Domine. Psalm 27.
Consider, O Lord, and hear me, when I cry unto thee: be thou my succour, O cast me not away, neither forsake me utterly, O God of my salvation. The Lord is my light, and my salvation: whom then shall I fear? 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. Consider, O Lord, and hear me . . .
Grant, O Lord, we beseech thee: that the course of this world may be so peaceably ordered by thy governance, that thy Church may joyfully serve thee in all godly quietness; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
I St. Peter 3:8-15
Dearly beloved: be ye all of one mind, having compassion one of another, love as brethren, be pitiful, be courteous: Not rendering evil for evil, or railing for railing: but contrariwise blessing; knowing that ye are thereunto called, that ye should inherit a blessing. For he that will love life, and see good days, let him refrain his tongue from evil, and his lips that they speak no guile: Let him eschew evil, and do good; let him seek peace, and ensue it. For the eyes of the Lord are over the righteous, and his ears are open unto their prayers: but the face of the Lord is against them that do evil. And who is he that will harm you, if ye be followers of that which is good? But and if ye suffer for righteousness’ sake, happy are ye: and be not afraid of their terror, neither be troubled; But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts:
[Psalm 84] Behold, O God, our defender: and look upon thy servants. V. O Lord God of Hosts, hear the prayer of thy servants.
Alleluia, alleluia. [Psalm 20] The King shall rejoice in thy strength, O Lord: exceeding glad shall he be of thy salvation. Alleluia.
St. Luke 5:1-11
At that time: it came to pass, that, as the people pressed upon him to hear the word of God, he stood by the lake of Gennesaret, And saw two ships standing by the lake: but the fishermen were gone out of them, and were washing their nets. And he entered into one of the ships, which was Simon’s, and prayed him that he would thrust out a little from the land. And he sat down, and taught the people out of the ship. Now when he had left speaking, he said unto Simon, Launch out into the deep, and let down your nets for a draught. And Simon answering said unto him, Master, we have toiled all the night, and have taken nothing: nevertheless at thy word I will let down the net. And when they had this done, they enclosed a great multitude of fishes: and their net brake. And they beckoned unto their partners, which were in the other ship, that they should come and help them. And they came, and filled both the ships, so that they began to sink. When Simon Peter saw it, he fell down at Jesus’ knees, saying, Depart from me; for I am a sinful man, O Lord. For he was astonished, and all that were with him, at the draught of the fishes which they had taken: And so was also James, and John, the sons of Zebedee, which were partners with Simon. And Jesus said unto Simon, Fear not; from henceforth thou shalt catch men. And when they had brought their ships to land, they forsook all, and followed him.
[Psalm 16] I will thank the Lord for giving me warning: I have set God always before me: for he is on my right hand, therefore I shall not fall.
[Psalm 27] One thing have I desired of the Lord, which I will require : even that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life.
Below are plainsong renditions of the Psalms as published in the Saint Dunstan’s Plainsong Psalter.
“They cast their nets in Galilee”
Lorenzo Perosi, Exaudi Domine
Pietro Allori, Exaudi Domine
Johann Sebastian Bach, Siehe, ich will viel Fischer aussenden
Johann Sebastian Bach, Wer nur den lieben Gott läßt walten
Attorney and poet from Greenville, Mississippi, William Alexander Percy (1885-1942) was a first cousin-once-removed of novelist and essayist Walker Percy (1916-1990), who once described “Uncle Will” as “the most extraordinary man I have ever known.” A graduate of Sewanee (The University of the South), William Percy counted among his friends William Faulkner, Langston Hughes, and John Crowe Ransom. In addition to a much-admired autobiography, Lanterns on the Levee: Recollections of a Planter’s Son (1941), his published work includes a collection of poetry released posthumously. The hymn, “They cast their nets in Galilee,” is one of those poems. Its links to today’s Gospel are obvious.
1. They cast their nets in Galilee
Just off the hills of brown;
Such happy, simple fisher-folk,
Before the Lord came down.
2. Contented, peaceful fishermen,
Before they ever knew
The peace of God that filled their hearts
Brimful, and broke them too.
3. Young John who trimmed the flapping sail,
Homeless, in Patmos died.
Peter, who hauled the teeming net,
Head down was crucified.
4. The peace of God, it is no peace,
But strife closed in the sod.
Yet, brothers, pray for but one thing —
The marvelous peace of God.
A recording of the hymn from a services at Wall Street Trinity Church in New York is presented below.
Today’s Introit is taken from the middle of Psalm 27. Here are verses 8-10 from that Psalm:
Exaudi, Domine, vocem meam, qua clamavi ad te;
Hearken unto my voice, O Lord, when I cry unto thee:
miserere mei, et exaudi me.
have mercy upon me, and hear me.
Tibi dixit cor meum: Exquisivit te facies mea;
My heart hath talked of thee, Seek ye my face:
faciem tuam, Domine, requiram.
Thy face, Lord, will I seek.
Ne avertas faciem tuam a me; ne declines in ira a servo tuo.
O hide not thou thy face from me: nor cast thy servant away in displeasure.
One of the settings of this text is by Lorenzo Perosi (1872-1956), who served for many years as director of music at the Sistine Chapel. His version of Exaudi Domine is scored for tenor solo and a unison choir, and is sung here by Vittorio Grigolo, joined by the boys voices of Pueri Cantores della Cappella Musicale Pontificia detta Sistina, conducted by Fabio Cerroni.
Another little-known Italian composer of sacred music who has set these verses from Psalm 27 (Psalm 26 in the Vulgate) is Pietro Allori (1925-1985). A priest and choir master, Allori was born and died on the the isle of Sardinia. His rare absences from the island included time spent studying music in Florence and Milan. His meditative setting of Exaudi, Domine is sung here by an ensemble conducted by Mariano Garau, one of Allori’s students.
Johann Sebastian Bach, Siehe, ich will viel Fischer aussenden (BWV 88, “See, I shall send forth many fishermen”)
One of two cantatas by J. S. Bach composed for this Sunday is Siehe, ich will viel Fischer aussenden (“See, I shall send forth many fishermen”). The text is inspired by today’s Gospel reading in which Jesus announces to St. Peter that he will transform him into a fisher of men.
While most of Bach’s cantatas commence with a movement sung by the entire choir, this one begins with the words of Jesus sung in a long aria by a bass soloist. Notice how frequently the word Siehe is repeated in this aria; Jesus is telling us to pay attention: “See! See! Look here, I say look!”
The gentle rolling rhythm of the singer and the accompaniment suggests the rocking of a boat by waves. Somewhat oddly, the imagery of fishing is abandoned halfway through the solo, and Jesus announces: “And afterwards I shall send out hunters who shall hunt them on all the hills and mountains and in all the stony cracks.” The promise of the missionary huntsman is accompanied by the sound of two (hunting) horns joining the accompaniment of the solo.
The texts in the remainder of the cantata (which you can read here) are more concerned with the challenge of faithfulness than the dynamics of evangelism. The closing chorale employs a favorite melody of Bach’s, sung in our own time in the hymn “If thou but suffer God to guide thee.” Bach’s congregation would have heard this tune developed more fully in Cantata #93, which was first sung in 1724, two years before the present work was first sung.
Siehe, ich will viel Fischer aussenden is performed by the Amsterdam Baroque Orchestra & Choir, conducted by Ton Koopman. The soloists are Johannette Zomer, soprano; Bogna Bartosz, alto; Christoph Prégardien, tenor; and Klaus Mertens, bass.
Johann Sebastian Bach, Wer nur den lieben Gott läßt walten (BWV 93, “Whoever lets only the dear God reign”)
The melody heard in the concluding chorale of Cantata 88 (discussed above) was a familiar one apparently much loved by Bach, since he used it frequently, as this page documents. Readers may know it as the hymn sung in English as “If thou but suffer God to guide thee.” In a cantata composed in 1724 for use on this Sunday — Wer nur den lieben Gott läßt walten (BWV 93, “Whoever lets only the dear God reign”) — the melody is heard frequently and its inner ramifications developed in many remarkable ways. You can read more about this work here.
The following poem is from John Keble’s The Christian Year (1827).
And Simon answering said unto Him, Master, we have toiled all the night, and have taken nothing; nevertheless at Thy word I will let down the net. And when they had this done, they inclosed a great multitude of fishes: and their net brake. St. Luke v. 5, 6.
“The livelong night we’ve toiled in vain,
But at Thy gracious word
I will let down the net again:—
Do Thou Thy will, O Lord!”
So spake the weary fisher, spent
With bootless darkling toil,
Yet on his Master’s bidding bent
For love and not for spoil.
So day by day and week by week,
In sad and weary thought,
They muse, whom God hath set to seek
The souls His Christ hath bought.
For not upon a tranquil lake
Our pleasant task we ply,
Where all along our glistening wake
The softest moonbeams lie;
Where rippling wave and dashing oar
Our midnight chant attend,
Or whispering palm-leaves from the shore
With midnight silence blend.
Sweet thoughts of peace, ye may not last:
Too soon some ruder sound
Calls us from where ye soar so fast
Back to our earthly round.
For wildest storms our ocean sweep:—
No anchor but the Cross
Might hold: and oft the thankless deep
Turns all our toil to loss.
Full many a dreary anxious hour
We watch our nets alone
In drenching spray, and driving shower,
And hear the night-bird’s moan:
At morn we look, and nought is there;
Sad dawn of cheerless day!
Who then from pining and despair
The sickening heart can stay?
There is a stay—and we are strong;
Our Master is at hand,
To cheer our solitary song,
And guide us to the strand.
In His own time; but yet a while
Our bark at sea must ride;
Cast after cast, by force or guile
All waters must be tried:
By blameless guile or gentle force,
As when He deigned to teach
(The lode-star of our Christian course)
Upon this sacred beach.
Should e’er thy wonder-working grace
Triumph by our weak arm,
Let not our sinful fancy trace
Aught human in the charm:
To our own nets ne’er bow we down,
Lest on the eternal shore
The angels, while oar draught they own,
Reject us evermore:
Or, if for our unworthiness
Toil, prayer, and watching fail,
In disappointment Thou canst bless,
So love at heart prevail.
The following hymn is from Bp. Christopher Wordsworth’s The Holy Year; or Hymns for Sundays and Holy Days throughout the Year (1862).
Fifth Sunday after Trinity
The history of the prophet Samuel, as presented in the First Lesson of this and the two foregoing Sundays.
O LORD, Who didst a Samuel give
To Hannah’s earnest prayers and tears;
Grant us a fervent heart to pray,
In all our sorrows, hopes, and fears.
O Lord, in whom she did rejoice,
Extolling Thee her God and King;
Grant us Thy Grace, for all Thy gifts
A glad Magnificat to sing.
O Lord, to Whom with joyful heart
Hannah her much-lov’d Samuel gave;
Grant us Thy grace to bring the best
To Thee, from Whom we all things have.
Thou, at Whose calling he replied,
“Speak, for Thy servant heareth, Lord,”
O give us ready ears to hear,
And willing hearts to do, Thy Word.
“It is the Lord,” old Eli said,
“Hide nothing from me, O my son;”
O grant us grace in deepest grief
To say, “Thy will, not mine be done !”
Will God be pleased with fat of rams?
Will He accept them as a price?
O grant us ever grace to know
Obedience is best sacrifice.
To Father, Son, and Holy Ghost,
Be Prayer and Praise and Thanks addrest;
O grant us grace to give ourselves
To Thee who art for ever blest.