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Psalm 112

posted Feb 8, 2014, 8:00 AM by Steven Vaughan   [ updated Jul 2, 2015, 3:02 PM ]
Hallelujah! Blessed the man who fears the LORD, who greatly delights in his commands.
His descendants shall be mighty in the land,a generation of the upright will be blessed.
Wealth and riches shall be in his house;his righteousness shall endure forever.
Light shines through the darkness for the upright;gracious, compassionate, and righteous.
It is good for the man gracious in lending, who conducts his affairs with justice.
For he shall never be shaken; the righteous shall be remembered forever.
He shall not fear an ill report; his heart is steadfast, trusting the LORD.
His heart is tranquil, without fear, till at last he looks down on his foes.
Lavishly he gives to the poor; his righteousness shall endure forever;his horn shall be exalted in honor.
The wicked sees and is angry; gnashes his teeth and wastes away;the desire of the wicked come to nothing.
The second of the eight that are known as the "hallelujah" psalms (111-118), Psalm 112 was probably composed by a priest or Levite for temple worship in the post-exilic period of 597 – 598 BC following Babylonian captivity. In structure and theme, it is a poetic “twin” of Psalm 111; both are acrostic poems using the Hebrew alphabet and both consist of twenty lines arranged in ten verses. They complement each other; Psalm 111 sings praise of the greatness of God, while Psalm 112 praises the greatness of the person who remains close to God. 

Psalm 112 is known by its opening phrase Beatus vir. And under this title it’s received numerous musical settings… 

Monteverdi included it in his Selva morale e spirituale, also known as the Vespers of 1640. This motet for six-part chorus with soloists, organ and two violins makes use of stile concertato; a distinctive feature of baroque music where pairs or small groups of voices are contrasted with the weight of the full chorus. Another baroque version is Vivaldi’s, composed in 1713-1719, and unique in that it’s the only surviving sacred vocal work of his in a single movement.

At the request of Archbishop Colloredo, Mozart composed two sets of vespers for the Salzburg Cathedral; Vesperae de Dominica (K.321) in 1789 and Vesperae de confessore (K.339) in 1780. (The latter was the last choral work Mozart ever composed for the cathedral.) Beatus Vir is the third movement in both.

On the contemporary side, New Orleans hip-hop artist Nic Adams raps several songs based on Psalm 112; I Do It for the Lord; By My Side; Can’t Nobody Tell Me and Praise.