29 June 2003

Benedicite, omnia opera

Outside the biblical Psalter there are numerous canticles similar to the psalms which the church has sung for two millennia. This includes those in the books that protestants label apocrypha and Roman Catholics call deuterocanonical.

One of my favourite such canticles is found in the expanded Greek version of Daniel. It is sometimes titled, "Song of the Three Holy Children," or "Song of the Three Jews." It is inserted into the story in chapter 3 of Nebuchadnessar throwing Azariah, Hananiah and Mishael into the fiery furnace for refusing to worship the gold image. In the midst of the flames they sing a song that begins "Benedicite, omnia opera" in the Vulgate, and in English:

O all ye Works of the Lord, bless ye the Lord : praise him, and magnify him for ever.

In the Book of Common Prayer this is one of several canticles appointed to be said or sung at Morning Prayer. We used to sing this at Little Trinity Church in Toronto, which I attended more than two decades ago. This is where I learned to love it. It is similar in flavour to Psalms 136 and 148.

It's a shame that the metrical psalters of the Reformation and post-Reformation eras did not include this canticle in versified form.

No comments:


Blog Archive

About Me

My photo
Contact at: dtkoyzis at gmail dot com