The very last of the wedding Lectionary selections to be tackled on Catholic Sensibility is probably the most popular of them all. There are innumerable musical settings of this psalm, many of which are good. Most Catholic hymnals list a single choice, for it doesn’t appear often in the Sunday Lectionary. Shop around for a good setting. Keep asking your church musician for options.
The Lectionary gives two options for the refrain, but others are available in musical settings:
Blessed are those who fear the Lord.
See how the Lord blesses those who fear him.
Blessed are you who fear the Lord,
who walk in his ways!
For you shall eat the fruit of your handiwork;
blessed shall you be, and favored.
The Hebrew translated here as “handiwork” is literally “palms,” as in the palms of your hands.
Your wife shall be like a fruitful vine
in the recesses of your home;
Your children like olive plants
around your table.
Behold, thus is the man blessed
who fears the Lord.
The Lord bless you from Zion:
may you see the prosperity of Jerusalem
all the days of your life.
Naturally, a patriarchal culture would be concerned about the blessings of a marriage and family from the man’s view. Was Jewish culture unconcerned about the blessings a wife and mother would find? Probably not. Keep in mind this was a largely illiterate culture. Women would certainly have their own oral tradition regarding the blessings of family life. It would have been extraordinary had it been written down.
A couple might choose this psalm is they were attuned to the literal description of married life. It is the only instance in the Psalter. We do want our marriages to bear fruit–and I think it would be accurate to say that good marriages bear fruit in addition to any physical progeny. Fear and reverence for God bookmarks the central blessing of the hymn. Not a bad wrapping for any love-relationship embarking on its first day.