Alleluia. Before this joyous psalm, which is as full as can be of the power of things divine, is set the Alleluia, which is desirable so that the merits of this heavenly hymn can be recognised by the glory of its heading; for it is most lofty in the depth of its sentiments, and interwoven with the repetition of familiar words, now proclaiming gifts received, now in turn hoping for those same blessings which have been deserved. Like celebrated rivers, it is seen to flow smoothly, though we know that it runs very deep; but we must with God's help course through it according to the measure of our practice, for up to now we have disciplined ourselves, and not spread ourselves with a sudden overflow. The psalm is adorned with Hebrew letters, for the instruction of those who are novices and amenable to teaching in Christ's school, in such a way that the letter allotted to a verse is joined also to the ensuing seven, perhaps denoting the mystery which lies in the heart's circumcision. 1 So this psalm runs on in its Hebrew tongue in groups of eight verses for each letter, interconnected at all points and completed with equal length of sections. We state that this is the arrangement both for purposes of division and so as to be able to denote the perfect number of just persons; for by means of these letters Hebraic wisdom is learnt, and the consecrated number of divine books is contained. 2 We know that each of these letters has its peculiar significance, since blessed Jerome attests this. 3 It seems otiose to repeat this here, since it has been compiled by the toil of another. Josephus states that this psalm, together with Psalm 144 and the Song of Deuteronomy, were composed in the elegiac metre. 4
We reasonably claim that the Hebrew letters have bestowed on the moral psalm divisions observable according to their number. Each letter, as we stated above, lays claim to eight verses, and invests the whole poem with beautiful balance. The psalm is not confused by any intermingling of sections, but unfolds new topics by change of letters. Throughout the psalm the speaking is done by a whole chorus of saintly men who have lived at the beginning of the world, or who live
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Publication information: Book title: Cassiodorus, Explanation of the Psalms. Volume: 3. Contributors: Cassiodorus - Author, P. G. Walsh - Unknown. Publisher: Paulist Press. Place of publication: New York. Publication year: 1990. Page number: 174.
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