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, "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 also calls to be ready to fight.
The psalm is a regular part of Jewish, Catholic, and Anglican liturgies. It has been set to music often, 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.
Text and themes
The psalm in nine verses begins with a call to sing a new song to the Lord, "Sing ye to the Lord a new song". Psalm 149 shares the first line with Psalm 98, known as Cantate Domino. The text in the King James version of the Bible reads:
- 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.
Both Psalm 149 and 98 call to praise God in music and dance, because he 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. The book about the psalms published by the Westminster John Knox Press 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".
Psalm 149 is recited in its entirety in the Pesukei D'Zimra ("Verses of Praise") section of the daily morning prayer, which precedes the recital of the Shema Yisrael and the Amidah (the silent 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 semaine. It is also used for feasts and solemnities week. 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.
In the Anglican Morning Prayer, Psalm is the recommended hymn of praise on Thursdays.
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. Johann Sebastian Bach set the beginning to open his cantata for New Year's Day, Singet dem Herrn ein neues Lied, BWV 190, for 1 January 1724, and composed a motet which uses the first three verses and other texts, Singet dem Herrn ein neues Lied, BWV 225, around 1727. 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.
Hymns paraphrasing Psalm 149 or taking inspiration from the psalm 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".
- Augustine of Hippo. "Exposition on Psalm 149". newadvent.org. ISBN 978-0-66-425557-2.
- "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. 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.
- Friedman, Rachel (2014), "Searching for Holiness: The Song of the Sea in the Bible and in the Liturgy", in Birnbaum, David; Blech, Benjamin, Sanctification, New Paradigm Matrix, pp. 211–212
- 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.
- Le cycle principal des prières liturgiques se déroule sur quatre semaines.
- Psalm 149, Op.79 (Dvořák, Antonín): Scores at the International Music Score Library Project (IMSLP)
- "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.
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- 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