My number’s 110, just text me.
That’s what all 22 year-olds say, right? Maybe not Handel, who was in fact only 22 when he wrote Dixit Dominus based in the text of Psalm 110, a bellicose and rather morbid liturgical poem if we interpret it from today’s standards and sensibilities. May, how times have changed!
What’s all the fuss about, might you ask? Well, have a little read and decide for yourself:
Psalm 110; New King James Version English Translation:
The Lord said unto my Lord:
“Sit thou on my right hand,
Till I make Your enemies Your foot-stool.”
The Lord shall send the rod of Your strength out of Zion:
Rule in the midst of Your enemies!
Your people shall be volunteers
In the day of Your power;
In the holiness, from the womb of the morning,
You have the dew of Your youth.
The Lord has sworn,
And will not relent:
“You are a priest forever
According to the order of Melchisedeck.”
The Lord is at Your right hand;
He shall execute kings in the day of His wrath.
He shall judge among the nations,
He shall fill the places with dead bodies,
He shall shatter the capitals in many lands.
He shall drink of the brook by the wayside,
Therefore shall He lift up the head.
Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost,
As it was in the beginning is now, and ever shall be: throughout all ages. Amen.
With all the talk of destruction, judging, and wrath, you’d think that this would be about a vengeful and dare I say it, spiteful God. But, alas, it is not. Psalm 110 was originally intended for a coronation, but ended up as part of the liturgy for Sunday Vespers and the ordination of priests. The fact that this is one of the most often referenced Psalms then should come as no surprise (think ‘Sitting at the right hand of God’); because what this text is really saying is that Christ will be victorious over the devil and earthly enemies. This really is a read between the lines kind of text. Way back when, in 1707 when Handel wrote the work, Psalm 110 would have been read with joy and revelry.
More about the work (music composition and the man who wrote it) later – for now, enjoy knowing something most people don’t!
Shameless plug for concerts:
Friday, April 19th and Saturday, April 20th. Both are at 8PM in Katzen’s Abramson Family Recital Hall.
Parking is free and we’re Metro accessible from the Tenleytown Station on the Red Line.