|"Sing a new song unto the Lord"|
Psalm 149 is the 149th psalm of the Book of Psalms, a hymn as the book's penultimate piece. The first verse of the psalm calls to praise in singing, in English in the King James Version: "Sing a new song unto the Lord". Similar to Psalm 96 and Psalm 98 (Cantate Domino), Psalm 149 calls to praise God in music and dance, because he has chosen his people and helped them to victory. Psalm 149 is also marked by its martial tone: it calls on the people to be ready to fight.
The psalm forms a regular part of Jewish, Catholic, Lutheran and Anglican liturgies. It has often been set to music, notably by Antonín Dvořák who set the complete psalm for chorus and orchestra, while Bach chose only the first three verses for his motet Singet dem Herrn ein neues Lied, BWV 225. It was paraphrased in hymns.
Background and themes
Psalm 149 shares its first line with Psalm 98, known as Cantate Domino. Both psalms call for praise of God in music and dance, because God has chosen his people and helped them to victory. Psalm 149 also calls to be ready to fight, with "swords sharpened on both sides in their hands". The end of the psalm has been interpreted differently by commentators. Augustine of Hippo wrote that the phrase of the sword has a "mystical meaning", dividing temporal and eternal things. James L. Mays comments: "There is an eschatological, almost apocalyptic, dimension to the psalm's anticipation of a warfare of the faithful that will settle the conflict of the kingdoms of this world and the kingdom of God".
Citing verses 5 and 6, the Talmud (Berakhot 5) says the praises said by the pious on their beds refer to the recital of the Bedtime Shema. The Shema is like a "double-edged sword" that can destroy both inner and outer demons and evil spirits. This image of a double-edged sword also refers to Israel's power of praises of God, which enable them to avenge themselves against the nations that persecuted them when the nations receive their punishment at the end of days.
C. S. Rodd notes that some writers divide the psalm into two sections, verses 1-4 and 5-9 (such as the layout in the New King James Version), but others create three sections, verses 1-3, 4-6, and 7-9. Support for a three-section structure "is seen primarily in the triad of infinitives in verses 7-9", namely to execute vengeance ..., to bind their kings ..., to execute judgment ... in the King James Version.
Hebrew Bible version
The following is the Hebrew text of Psalm 149:
|1||הַ֥לְלוּיָ֨הּ | שִׁ֣ירוּ לַֽ֖יהֹוָה שִׁ֥יר חָדָ֑שׁ תְּ֜הִלָּת֗וֹ בִּקְהַ֥ל חֲסִידִֽים|
|2||יִשְׂמַ֣ח יִשְׂרָאֵ֣ל בְּעֹשָׂ֑יו בְּנֵֽי־צִ֜יּ֗וֹן יָ֘גִ֥ילוּ בְּמַלְכָּֽם|
|3||יְהַֽלְל֣וּ שְׁמ֣וֹ בְּמָח֑וֹל בְּתֹ֥ף וְ֜כִנּ֗וֹר יְזַמְּרוּ־לֽוֹ|
|4||כִּֽי־רוֹצֶ֣ה יְהֹוָ֣ה בְּעַמּ֑וֹ יְפָ֘אֵ֥ר עֲ֜נָוִ֗ים בִּֽישׁוּעָֽה|
|5||יַעְלְז֣וּ חֲסִידִ֣ים בְּכָב֑וֹד יְ֜רַֽנְּנ֗וּ עַל־מִשְׁכְּבוֹתָֽם|
|6||רֽוֹמְמ֣וֹת אֵ֖ל בִּגְרוֹנָ֑ם וְחֶ֖רֶב פִּֽיפִיּ֣וֹת בְּיָדָֽם|
|7||לַֽעֲשׂ֣וֹת נְקָמָ֣ה בַגּוֹיִ֑ם תּֽ֜וֹכֵח֗וֹת בַּֽלְאֻמִּֽים|
|8||לֶאְסֹּ֣ר מַלְכֵיהֶ֣ם בְּזִקִּ֑ים וְ֜נִכְבְּדֵיהֶ֗ם בְּכַבְלֵ֥י בַרְזֶֽל|
|9||לַֽעֲשׂ֬וֹת בָּהֶ֨ם | מִשְׁפָּ֬ט כָּת֗וּב הָדָ֣ר ה֖וּא לְכָל־חֲ֜סִידָ֗יו הַֽלְלוּיָֽהּ|
King James Version
- Praise ye the LORD. Sing unto the Lord a new song, and his praise in the congregation of saints.
- Let Israel rejoice in him that made him: let the children of Zion be joyful in their King.
- Let them praise his name in the dance: let them sing praises unto him with the timbrel and harp.
- For the Lord taketh pleasure in his people: he will beautify the meek with salvation.
- Let the saints be joyful in glory: let them sing aloud upon their beds.
- Let the high praises of God be in their mouth, and a two-edged sword in their hand;
- To execute vengeance upon the heathen, and punishments upon the people;
- To bind their kings with chains, and their nobles with fetters of iron;
- To execute upon them the judgment written: this honour have all his saints. Praise ye the Lord.
Psalm 149 is recited in its entirety in the Pesukei D'Zimra ("Verses of Praise") section of the daily morning prayer. It is traditionally grouped with Psalms 146, 147, 148, and 150 – the five concluding chapters of the Book of Psalms, which are all recited in their entirety during Pesukei D'Zimra – under the classification of "halleluyah" psalms which express praise of God.
The psalm is one of the Laudate psalms or hymn psalms. With Psalm 148 and Psalm 150, Psalm 149 was recited or sung daily during the solemn service of matins, according to the Rule of St. Benedict (530AD).
In the Liturgy of the Hours, Psalm 149 is used for Sunday Lauds of the Roman rite in the first week. It is also used for feasts and solemnities week.[clarification needed] In the Eucharistic liturgy, it is the Saturday after the Epiphany or before January 7 epiphany, and at Easter, the Monday of the sixth week.
With an incipit about singing, the psalm and especially its first line has often been set to music, in various languages. Heinrich Schütz published a composition of its beginning in Latin, "Cantate Domino canticum novum", in 1625 in his Cantiones sacrae as SWV 81, scored for four voices and basso continuo. He set the psalm in German, titled Die heilige Gemeine (The holy congregation) as part of the Becker Psalter, as SWV 254. Matthäus Apelles von Löwenstern published the hymn "Singt dem Herrn ein neues Lied", a paraphrase of the psalm, in 1644. BWV 411 is Johann Sebastian Bach's four-part setting of Löwenstern's hymn tune. Bach's cantata Singet dem Herrn ein neues Lied, BWV 190, for New Year's Day, and his motet Singet dem Herrn ein neues Lied, BWV 225, composed in the 1720s like the cantata, both open with words taken from the beginning of the psalm. Jean-Joseph de Mondonville set the psalm as a motet, one of his nine grand motets, in 1734.
Antonín Dvořák set the complete psalm for mixed choir and orchestra, as his Op. 79. Bernard Rose set the psalm in English as Praise ye the Lord for unaccompanied double choir in 1949. Philip James set it for choir in 1956. Raymond Wilding-White set the psalm for two sopranos, violin and viola. English-language hymns paraphrasing Psalm 149, or taking inspiration from it, include "I sing the mighty power of God", "Let all the world in every corner sing", "Lord of the Dance", "Praise the Lord, sing Hallelujah", "Songs of praise the angels sang", and "We sing the mighty power of God".
- Rodd, C. S., 18. Psalms in Barton, J. and Muddiman, J. (2001), The Oxford Bible Commentary, p. 404
- "Psalms, chapter 149". United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. Retrieved 1 January 2018.
- Psalm 149: Praise in Their Throats and a Sword in Their Hands. Psalms. Westminster John Knox Press. 1994. pp. 446–449. ISBN 978-0-66-423747-9.
- Limburg, James (2000). Psalm 149: Let the Faithful Dance. Psalms. Westminster John Knox Press. pp. 502–503. ISBN 978-0-66-425557-2.
- Augustine of Hippo (January 2000). Exposition on Psalm 149. newadvent.org. ISBN 978-0-66-425557-2.
- Morrison, Chanan (2017). "Psalm 149: The double-edged sword of Shema". Rav Kook Torah. Retrieved September 26, 2018.
- Yaakov ibn Rabbi Chaviv (1999). Ein Yaakov: The Ethical and Inspirational Teachings of the Talmud. Jason Aronson. p. 6. ISBN 9781461628248.
- Abramowitz, Rabbi Jack (2018). "Psalms – Chapter 149". Orthodox Union. Retrieved September 26, 2018.
- Psalm 149: NKJV
- Psalm 149:7–9: KJV
- Friedman, Rachel (2014), "Searching for Holiness: The Song of the Sea in the Bible and in the Liturgy", in Birnbaum, David; Blech, Benjamin (eds.), Sanctification, New Paradigm Matrix, pp. 211–212
- Brauner, Reuven (2013). "Shimush Pesukim: Comprehensive Index to Liturgical and Ceremonial Uses of Biblical Verses and Passages" (PDF) (2nd ed.). p. 51.
- "Perek Shirah" (PDF). Zoo Torah. p. 14. Retrieved September 26, 2018.
- Psautier latin-français du bréviaire monastique, p. 124, 185, 228, 275, 328, 378 & 433
- Règle de saint Benoît, chapitres XII et XIII, traduction par Prosper Guéranger, (Abbaye Saint-Pierre de Solesmes, réimpression 2007) p40-41.
- The main cycle of liturgical prayers takes place over four weeks.
- Johann Sebastian Bach, chorals: sources hymnologiques des mélodies, des textes et des théologies, p. 118, by James Lyon (2005)
- Psalm 149, Op.79 (Dvořák, Antonín): Scores at the International Music Score Library Project
- "MC:F61/MS1 Original Compositions by Bernard Rose". Magdalen College, Oxford. Retrieved 8 January 2018.
- "Hymns for Psalm 149". hymnary.org. Retrieved 8 January 2018.
- Psalm 149: Free scores at the Choral Public Domain Library (ChoralWiki)
- Ted Hildebrandt: Psalms Bibliography 2005
- Psalm 149 biblegateway.com
- Psalm 149 – The High Praises of God and a Two-Edged Sword enduringword.com
- Charles H. Spurgeon: The Treasury of David / by Charles H. Spurgeon / Psalm 149 romans45.org
- Pieces with text from Psalm 149: Scores at the International Music Score Library Project