Concerning the Invitatory.
It is not sufficient for you to praise and rejoice in God alone unless you stir up others to the same. Therefore after Alleluia or Laus tibi, you begin the Invitatory, that is to say, a calling or a stirring. Through this each of you stirs and exhorts one another to the praise of God and of our lady also. You call to those who hear you, and desire others who are absent to come and praise with you. This accords with the Psalm Venite that follows and is sung with the Invitatory. Now the Invitatory is sometimes sung in its entirety, and sometimes partially. For some come entirely to God’s service to praise him with body and soul and all their strength, and some come partially for though their body is there, their hearts are on other things as our Lord says both by his prophet and in his gospel: Populus hic labiis me honorat, cor autem eorum longe est a me. This people worships me with their lips, but their heart is far from me. Five times it is sung entirely, for those who wish to be entirely in our Lord’s service must carefully keep their five senses, both the outer senses and the inner. And three times it is sung partially, for there are three kinds of people who were called to our Lord’s supper and did not come because of pride, because of worldliness, and because of fleshliness. But you who are free from such hindrances must come with a whole heart and a fervent will to the praise of the blessed Trinity and of the Queen of heaven and say, Trinum deum et unum pronis mentibus adoremus. Virgini que matri gratulantibus animis iugiter iubilemus. That is, we worship with humble and eager souls God who is three and one. That is to say, three in persons and one in substance and in Godhood. And we praise fully and intensely the virgin mother with joyful hearts.
VENITE. The Psalm is written in the Psalter and it contains five verses. In the first verse we are called and exhorted to come to praise God. In the next two verses is expressed the reason why we should praise him. In the last two verses is told the peril of those who will not come to love him and praise him.
Then you begin and say, Venite. Come, you. To whom do you speak? They who are absent cannot hear you. Whom do you bid, and why? Our Lord is present everywhere and ever more ready to hear them who pray in churches, but all have not come to him who are in church. For he says of some who worship him with their mouths that their heart is far from him. Therefore to them you say, Venite. “Come, you” as if you said, “Gather together all the thoughts and strength of your heart, and set them only upon him and so come to him in reverent fear and devotion.”
Exultemus domino. We outwardly rejoice with all the service of our bodies in our Lord and in nothing else.
Iubilemus deo salutari nostro. We rejoice in God our Savior, that is Jesus Christ, with all the powers of our souls so that our love and devotion are so great in him that we may neither hide it nor fully show it. For thus means this word Iubilemus that we may the better rejoice thus in him.
Preocupemus faciem eius in confessione. We come before his face in confession. There is confession of sins and also confession of praise. Our Lord Jesus Christ shows now his face of grace and of mercy, but at the day of judgment he will show his face of righteousness. Because we do not know how soon the judgment will come at our own death, therefore come now before he shows the face of righteousness and let us come before the face of his mercy and of grace, in confession, acknowledging our sins and unkindnesses against him, and his goodness and manifold benefits and kindnesses to us. Let us come before his face before the fiend comes into our hearts with any vanities that should distract us from him.
Et in psalmis iubilemus ei. And let us joyfully sing to him with Psalms. We sing to him and not for the pleasure of the hearers. But why should we do this?
Quoniam deus magnus dominus. For God is a great Lord in power and Lordship above all things.
Et rex magnus super omnes deos. And the great King above all gods. Angels and Saints and all good men and women, especially those who are in dignity and estates of power, are called gods because God has shared with them of his virtues, power, or grace. But all these are subject to him, and may not do anything except by his lead. Therefore he is a great King above all gods. Although he is so great in power, he is nevertheless great in love and mercy through which we know: Quoniam non repellit dominus plebem suam. The same Lord shall not forsake nor cast from him his people no matter their evil if they will be his through repentance no matter what sect or country they are from: heathen or Christian, Saracen or Jew.
Quia in manu eius fuerunt omnes fines terre. For in his hand and power are all the countries of Earth. And amongst them all, he takes heed of those where ever they be who humble themselves in faith and penance, love and devotion.
Therefore this follows: Et altitudines moncium ipse conspicit. The height and depth of the mountains he beholds. As high as a mountain is in the sight of him who stands under it, as deep as it is to the sight of him who stands above and looks down, thereby a mountain is both high and deep. Those who make themselves deep and low to God through humility, he beholds by his mercy and lift them up and makes them high mountains by his grace. Therefore the prophet says here that he beholds the height and depth of the mountains.
Quoniam ipsius est mare et ipse fecit illud. For the sea is his and he made it. For just as the bitter sea is kept within his boundaries by the power of God and may not flow upon the earth except at his permission, just so no tribulation nor temptation may come to man but by the sufferance of God who tempers all things to his servants as they may bear to their greatest profit. He has great care of them and therefore shows it.
Et aridam fundverunt manus eius. And the dry earth his hands have established. For those who are dry and thirst only for the love of God and reverence towards him he establishes and strengthens in such stability of virtue and grace that no fierceness of the sea of temptation nor tribulation may prevail against them.
Since he does all of this, even if you did not before, at least now: Venite adoremus, et procidamus ante deum. Come, you, and let us worship and fall down before God. Come for love and worship him, with the singular reverence that belongs only to God and let us fall down through humility of body and soul before God, beholding his reverent presence. Ploremus, let us weep, yielding ourselves up as guilty not for the thanks of men but Coram domino, before our Lord, qui fecit nos, who made us. For there is a great homeliness and trust of the thing made by the maker who knows what it is and why he made it. For according to our bodies we are made frail and therefore our Maker will spare us and help us and grant us mercy. According to our souls, we are made in his likeness and therefore we should and ought to desire to be like him by grace. According to both the soul and the body he made us to be partners of his joy and therefore we ought act accordingly and seek and desire to have him for our reward forever.
Quia ipse est dominus deus noster. For he is our Lord and we may surely desire that he is ours and we are his, for we are his people: Nos autem populus eius. And the sheep of his pasture: Et oves pascue eius. For he feeds us with the pasture of his holy sacraments and of his comforting grace. He has ordained us to have himself to our endless rest in joy if we become his true sheep, fruitful in the wool of virtues, in the milk of piety, in the lambs of good deeds, in the dung of humility, in the flesh of love and devotion.
But since our Lord shows this many benefits to us we must be careful that we do not lose them by our own willful unkindness and therefore we are exhorted in the following verse when he says, if you hear his voice this day, harden not your hearts or do not desire to harden your heart against his voice: Hodie si vocem eius audieritis, nolite obdurare corda vestra. , Do not harden your hearts. The time of the old law which was before the incarnation of our Lord Jesus Christ was likened to the night; the time after his holy incarnation was likened to the day as the apostle Paul said. We are in this day, and in the day of this grace we hear our Lord’s voice both in the holy gospel and in his Scripture and by the inspiration of his Holy Ghost. If you will not obey them, then we deserve that his grace should be withdrawn. On account of that withdrawal, our hearts become hard and obstinate against all goodness. Thus is given to us the example of the people of Israel who God brought out of Egypt in a dry way through the sea and gave them his law and fed them with manna in the desert. When water failed them he made water out of a hard stone to give them drink, and showed them many other marvels and provided for them and always they rebelled against him. They provoked his wrath for 40 years so that our Lord swore that they should never come into the land of rest to which he had called them. Nor did they. For all who came out of Egypt died in the desert except two who obeyed the will of God. By this example we are exhorted by our Lord in the Psalm to be careful lest by misuse of our free will we fall into blindness and hardness of heart as they did and so be barred from the land of endless rest, that is the joy of heaven.
Therefore since God has spoken to us and showed us many more marvels than he ever did them, he says now to us: Nolite obdurare corda vestra sicut in exacerbatione secundum diem temptationis in deserto. Harden not your hearts as they did, provoking me to wrath in the desert upon the day of temptation. Ubi temptaverunt me patres vestri probaverunt et viderunt opera mea. Where your fathers tempted me, tested me, and saw my works.
Quadraginta annis proximus fui generationi huic. 40 years long was I near to this generation. By this 40 years is understood to us all the time of our life which ought to be in penitence. This is understood by the number 40, for our Lord fasted 40 days and hallowed that number for the doing of penance. All the time that men live on the earth, our Lord is near to them and ready to receive them with mercy if they would repent.
Et dixi semper hii errant corde. But I said always they err in their heart. For though anything appears well on the outside, the inward heart is evermore wandering from the fear of God.
Ipsi vero non cognoverunt vias meas. For they knew not my ways from the blindness of their own sin.
Quibus iurari ira mea, si introibunt in requiem meam. Of whom I swore in my wrath, they shall never enter into my rest. God has sworn; he cannot be untrue. If we do as they did, we must have as they had – and worse for we have received more to account for.
This Psalm begins in joy but it ends in fear. If we will not serve him for love of his benefits, at least we should come to his service for fear of his righteousness. Fear, therefore, and be not reckless in his service, but both in fear of his righteousness, and in love and joy of his goodness, you should always end his praise saying: Gloria patri, etc.
This verse Gloria Patri was first made in one of the general councils. Afterwards, St. Jerome made for it the second verse that is sicut erat etc. and wrote them both to the Pope named Damasius to be said after Psalms in the divine service then the same Pope ordained and commanded that it should be done.
Thanks for posting this…always something new to learn.
I would also suggest leaving some of these postings in Middle English. I expect that most of your readers would have no problem with it, and it has a certain beauty that gets lost in the modern rendering.