Wedding Lectionary: Psalm 118: (24), 1 & 4, 24-25, 26-27, 28-29

When I served at the student center, a Spring wedding wasn’t uncommon. That often meant an Easter season liturgy. It came up once or twice: the suggestion to use the 118th Psalm, a frequent song of the early Sundays of Easter. At weekend Masses, we programmed the Marty Haugen setting, with our own twist. And what better expression of joy on a nuptial occasion than the shout of joy of the antiphon?

This is the day the Lord has made;
let us rejoice and be glad.

If I were consulting on a Lectionary update, or on the new Order for Celebrating Matrimony, I would have suggested the addition of a Psalm 118 option, with these verses:

Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good,
his mercy endures forever.
Let those who fear the LORD say,
his mercy endures forever.

This is the day the LORD has made;
let us rejoice in it and be glad.
LORD, grant salvation!
LORD, grant good fortune!

Blessed is he who comes in the name of the LORD.
We bless you from the house of the LORD.
The LORD is God and has enlightened us.
Join in procession with leafy branches
up to the horns of the altar.

You are my God, I give you thanks;
my God, I offer you praise.
Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good,
his mercy endures forever.

Elsewhere this site, I commend Neil’s commentary on this Psalm. One piece of that addresses one of the verses above:

Jesus tells the Pharisees that “you will not see me until (the time comes when) you say, ‘Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord’” (Lk 13:35), so that Psalm 118:26’s description of an entrance into the temple becomes a vision of Jerusalem welcoming its Messiah.

A few things strike me in this reflection. First, the importance of a Christ-centered marriage and wedding liturgy. You might ask about the connection between Jesus and an Old Testament text. But verse 26 has long been applied to the Lord, and utilized at every Catholic Mass in the song of praise that is part of every Eucharistic Prayer.

The name Jerusalem includes the root of the Hebrew word for peace (s-l-m, shalom, “___-salem”) and is often translated as “abode of peace.” A preacher might do well to liken the Christian marriage as the forming of an abode or a house of peace for the wedded couple. The subsequent inviting of one’s Messiah and divine Lord into one’s house strikes me as a recipe for grace, fruitfulness, and joy in a marriage and family.

A Christian couple also recognizes the importance of community worship. A wife and husband join with the rest of their community in a certain “enlightened” state and “join in procession” regularly to the altar of joy and delight (Psalm 43:4).

The more I reflect on Psalm 118, the more I’m convinced it might well be a superlative choice for a couple who might manage to combine human joy, dedication to God, and a connectivity between home, worship, and our Judeo-Christian traditions.


About catholicsensibility

Todd lives in the Pacific Northwest, serving a Catholic parish as a lay minister.
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