Explanation of the Psalms and Canticles in the Divine Office
by St. Alphonsus de Liguori
Original year of publication: 1887
Reprinted in the year: 2008
The Explanation of the Psalms and Canticles in the Divine Office, one of the rarest works of Saint Alphonsus Maria Liguori, Confessor, Bishop and Doctor of the Church, is now available for a new generation of Catholic clergy and laity. Translated by Rev. Thomas Livius, C.SS.R. and published at London by Burns and Oates, Ltd., in 1887, with a preface by the famous Cardinal Manning, this book will certainly shed light on the obscure and difficult passages of the Psalter and inflame the heart with the sentiments of devotion that make the recital of the Psalms so spiritually edifying, as testified by two thousand years of Christian Psalmody.
Rev. Eugene Grimm, C.SS.R., the editor of the famous Centenary Edition of the Complete Ascetical Works of Saint Alphonsus, notes the following in his preface to his edition of the The Explanation of the Psalms and Canticles in the Divine Office [vol. 14]: “The Holy See has frequently praised and recommended all the works of St. Alphonsus; but the decree of March 23, 1871, which conferred on St. Alphonsus the title of Doctor of the Church, makes special mention of this work, speaking of it as one of his most useful and salutary works. The decree says: He [St. Alphonsus] has made clear dark passages of the Holy Scriptures, both in his ascetic writings, which are freighted with a celestial odor, and in a most salutary commentary, in which, for the nourishment of piety and the instruction of the soul, he has given expositions of the Psalms, as well as of the Canticles, for the benefit especially of those obliged to its recitation.”
In the same preface, Rev. Grimm acknowledges the edition of Rev. Thomas Livius as having been freely used in preparation of his own edition. Many readers, however, have commented that Rev. Livius’s edition is to be preferred to that of Rev. Grimm because of the different formats. While Rev. Grimm has the entire parallel Latin-English text of the Psalm followed by St. Alphonsus’s notes and commentary in the form of endnotes, Rev. Livius has the commentary and notes of the Saint follow each verse or verses concerned (which is in parallel Latin-English text). It is thus much easier to follow and there is no need to flipping pages back and forth.(Latin text is the Vulgate version-English text is that of the Douay translation, taken from The Book of Psalms Burns and Oates, 1878)
Saint Alphonsus follows the Roman Psalter as it existed at his time, i.e. the ancient Roman Psalter that preceded the reformed Psalter of Pope St. Pius X. Thus the arrangement of Psalms is much different in St. Alphonsus’s commentary than it is in the Roman Breviary. Also, the Canticles said in the first schema of Lauds are not present because they were an innovation of Pope St. Pius X’s reform. The Canticles said in the second schema of Lauds are present in the commentary because at the time they were the only ones in the Roman Psalter. Far from detracting from the value of the Saint’s commentary, however, it is a rare piece of liturgical history to which few now have access and it will increase appreciation for the reforms of Pope St. Pius X.
In a time when most modern commentators and editors debase the Psalter in theoretical, linguistic and historical controversies that hinder rather than assist Catholic piety, especially since heretical errors have de-contextualized the Psalter from its true Christocentric nature, the republication of this very important and rare work is a blessing. This is especially so for those who recite the Divine Office and Catholics who truly wish to study the Psalms as our Father and the Saints did and not as modern critics who lack traditional Catholic piety and faith.
Presented here in the larger crown quarto size (approx. 7 ½” by 9 5/8”), we know that this book will be a constant companion to your Breviary, biblical studies, or devotional meditations.
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||7 1/2” X 9 5/8”
||crown quarto size