It is the 595th of the 1,189 chapters of the King James Version of the Bible, making it the middle chapter. It is also the shortest chapter in this version of the Bible:
O praise the Lord, all ye nations: praise him, all ye people. / For his merciful kindness is great toward us: and the truth of the Lord endureth for ever. Praise ye the Lord.
In this psalm, the gentiles are invited to join in praise of God. Christians view this as a fulfillment of God's promise of mercy to the gentiles, pointing to God's promise that all nations would be blessed in the seed of Abraham, who they believe is Christ, as described in the book of Galatians. Galatians 3:16 says "The promises were spoken to Abraham and to his seed. The Scripture does not say 'and to seeds,' meaning many people, but 'and to your seed,' meaning one person, who is Christ."
In the Roman Catholic church, the Rule of St Benedict, assigned this psalm to the Office of Vespers on Monday. St Benedict of Nursia generally used four psalms in Vespers, but because of the shortness of this psalm, he added a fifth when it was used. However, Psalm 117 is currently used in the Liturgy of the Hours on Saturday of Weeks I and III. The psalm may be sung after Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament, used in Roman Catholic and some Anglican churches.
Psalm 117, known by the opening words in Latin as "Laudate dominum" (translated "O, Praise the Lord" or "Praise ye the Lord"), has been set to music by a number of composers, including William Byrd, Michel Richard Delalande, and Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. More recently, there is a setting by the Swedish composer Fredrik Sixten, just as the introdution of the 90s pop song Happy Nation by the also sweden pop group Ace of Base and a popular arrangement from the Taizé community.
- King James Bible
- The Complete Artscroll Siddur page 638
- The Benedictines of Solesmes, ed. Liber Usualis, p. 1853. New York: Desclee Company, 1961.
- William Byrd, (Gradualia II (1607),) no. 45.
- http://www.bibliotheques.versailles.fr/simclient/Integration/FONDS_ANCIEN/DossiersDoc/voirDossManuscrit.asp?INSTANCE=DOSSIERSDOCS_VERSAILLES&DOSS=BKDD_BMVMsmus_000002_MSMUS14 [archive] p.46
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