Ps 117 for Easter Sunday – Commentary written and recorded by Dr Noel Donnelly
Psalm 117 Commentary.. Psalm 117 Commentary copy
Psalm 117 appears every Easter Sunday. It’s always been a call to the community to give thanks and celebrate God’s “steadfast love”; so it’s especially appropriate for our Easter Celebrations. Our liturgy selects five of the 29 verses in the whole psalm, a song which focuses on God, repeating the divine name 28 times.
The psalm was originally a song of the community as it made a joyful procession through the Temple gates on a great feast day, probably the Feast of Tabernacles. In Jewish subsequent practice the psalm, being one of the Hallel Psalms, was sung at the end of the Passover meal after the fourth cup of celebratory wine. It is used in all four Gospels and would have been sung by Jesus and the disciples on the way to Gethsemane. Our Easter setting is one that celebrates the ultimate victory of the risen Jesus.
That “cornerstone” refers to the block of stone that hold together at right angles the walls of the building. If it was flawed, then the whole building would be unsteady. How strange then that a rejected one was used! Isaiah (28.16) saw in the Remnant of returning exiles an amazing act of God for the renewal of Israel through these little ones: they had been rejected into exile and were now returning to be the stones that would rebuild Israel.
Jesus uses this verse in the Passion Narratives and elsewhere. He will be rejected but return in victory over death. In the Letter to the Ephesians, this rejected stone is the one that holds the whole church together.
Our weekend liturgy surrounds this psalm of rejoicing with Peter: in Acts, the first reading, Peter addresses Cornelius and his family about the Good News, and in the Gospel, Peter appears at the empty tomb to begin to appreciate that this day was indeed made by the Lord Jesus, the cornerstone of redemption. Let us rejoice and be glad for the Lord is risen indeed!
Ps 117: words (c) The Grail, England. Music (c) Gerry Fitzpatrick. Recorded by Magdalen McInnes
Ps 117: words (c) The Grail, England. Music (c) Kevin Mayhew. . Recorded by The St Mungo Singers.
Graphic (c) Netta Ewing