Funeral Lectionary: Psalm 16: 1-2, 7-11

I had an experience with the funeral of a choir spouse recently. The family requested Psalm 16, and specifically Scott Soper’s fine setting. OCP’s editors place it in their annual missal in the Psalter. The antiphon is a bit long without some visual aid. But the melody is easy enough to sing.

After reflecting on this psalm, I think it may be a gem the formators of the funeral rites may have missed. It appears with relative frequency in the Lectionary for Mass. One of the early popular St Louis Jesuit songs was a setting. Scholars classify it as a song of trust. It has personal elements, and an overtone of loyalty not only to God, but also to the Jewish tradition of worship.

You may recall that Peter quotes verse 10, “you will not abandon my soul to Sheol,
nor let your devout one see the pit” when preaching in Acts 2. While this was applied by the early Church to Christ, it also suggests that some Jews of the time chafed over the finality and unfairness of death. Shouldn’t the just have better treatment than the wicked? The Christian perspective is represented by verse 11, for we anticipate heaven as a place of “abounding joy” and “delight.”

If I were on some committee for the next edition of the Roman Catholic funeral rites, I would choose these verses for singing–1-2, 7, 8, 9-10, and 11:

Keep me safe, O God; in you I take refuge.
I say to the LORD, you are my Lord,
you are my only good.

I bless the LORD who counsels me;
even at night my heart exhorts me.

I keep the LORD always before me;
with him at my right hand, I shall never be shaken.

Therefore my heart is glad, my soul rejoices;
my body also dwells secure,
For you will not abandon my soul to Sheol,
nor let your devout one see the pit.

You will show me the path to life,
abounding joy in your presence,
the delights at your right hand forever.

The omitted verses contrast false gods. If modern culture has them, they are not pagan, but money, power, celebrity. I think the verses above keep a focus on the surety of faith in God, and our hope for life beyond death.

I think verse 11 is well-suited for a long-ish antiphon. But perhaps part of verse 2 would merit some consideration:

You are my Lord, you are my only good.

About catholicsensibility

Todd lives in Minnesota, serving a Catholic parish as a lay minister.
This entry was posted in Order of Christian Funerals, Scripture. Bookmark the permalink.

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