Psalm 145: Grateful Songs

Wednesday of the Fourth Week of Lent

March 17, 2021

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we pray with Psalm 145, a hymn of exuberant and confident gratitude to an infinitely generous God.

The LORD is gracious and merciful,
    slow to anger and of great kindness.
The LORD is good to all
    and compassionate toward all his works.

Psalm 145: 8-9

It’s a good psalm for this St. Patrick’s Day. Even though the liturgy stays with the Lenten Mass, today the Irish are praying with their patron Saint. 

So when we read the following psalm verse, we think of the witness of our ancestors who suffered for and remained steadfast in the Faith:

The LORD is faithful in all his words
    and holy in all his works.
The LORD lifts up all who are falling
    and raises up all who are bowed down.

Psalm 145: 13-14

Nana (Ellen)

With an unquestioning allegiance, they transmitted that faith to the next generations. My great-grandmother was such a transmitter. Sixteen years old in 1884, she came alone to the U.S. carrying the thick Londonderry accent that made it hard for me to fully understand her.

When I was still a toddler, Nana would call me to her side to teach me the Hail Mary. I was resistant, wanting to wear the rosary for a necklace instead. But my mother told me that nevertheless, for my very young night prayers, I would repeat the prayer’s phrases with an evident Irish accent.

Of course, the accent did not remain. And Nana, although she lived until she was 83, slipped into dementia in her later years. But Ellen McGone’s mark on my spirit abides. It was burnished by her children, my grandmother and especially my granduncles. They chose to transmit the heritage by songs sung at every family gathering to the accompaniment of harmonica, pipe whistle, and a small squeezebox. Of course, they didn’t sound like the great John McCormack. But they thought they did, and so did I!

Happy Saint Paddy’s Day


When Irish Eyes are Smiling sure it’s like a morn in spring
In the lilt of Irish laughter you can hear the angels sing
when Irish hearts are happy all the world seems bright and gay
but when Irish eyes are smiling sure they’ll steal your heart away

There’s a tear in your eye and I’m wondering why
that it ever should be there at all
with such power in your smile sure a stone you’d beguile
and there’s never a teardrop should fall

when your sweet lilting laughter’s like some fairy song
and your eyes sparkle bright as can be
Oh then laugh all the while and all other times smile
and then smile a smile for me

For your smile is a part of the love in your heart, 
And it makes even sunshine more bright. 
Like the linnet’s sweet song, crooning all the day long, 
Comes your laughter and light for the springtime of life 
Is the sweetest of all 
There is ne’er a real care or regret; and while springtime is ours 
Throughout all of youth’s hours, let us smile each chance we get. 

On this feast of the great and glorious St. Patrick, we might – no matter our heritage – want to pray with and for our treasured forbears who have nurtured in us the gifts of love, faith and heritage:

Great is the LORD and worthy of much praise,
whose grandeur is beyond understanding.

One generation praises your deeds to the next
and proclaims your mighty works.

They speak of the splendor of your majestic glory,
tell of your wonderful deeds.

They speak of the power of your awesome acts
and recount your great deeds.

They celebrate your abounding goodness
and joyfully sing of your justice.

The LORD is gracious and merciful,
slow to anger and abounding in mercy.

Psalm 145: 4-8

Poetry: Songs of Our Land by Frances Brown

Songs of our land, ye are with us for ever,
The power and the splendor of thrones pass away;
But yours is the might of some far flowing river.
Through Summer's bright roses or Autumn's decay.

Ye treasure each voice of the swift passing ages,
And truth which time writeth on leaves or on sand;
Ye bring us the thoughs of poets and sages,
And keep them among us, old songs of our land.

The bards may go down to the place of their slumbers,
The lyre of the charmer be hushed in the grave,
But far in the future the power of their numbers
Shall kindle the hearts of our faithful and brave,

It will waken an echo in souls deep and lonely,
Like voices of reeds by the summer breeze fanned;
It will call up a spirit for freedom, when only
Her breathings are heard in the songs of our land.

For they keep a record of those, the true-hearted,
Who fell with the cause they had vowed to maintain;
They show us bright shadows of glory departed,
Of love that grew cold and hope that was vain.

The page may be lost and the pen long forsaken,
And weeds may grow wild o'er the brave heart and hand;
But ye are still left when all else hath been taken,
Like streams in the desert, sweet songs of our land.

Songs of our land, ye have followed the stranger,
With power over ocean and desert afar,
Ye have gone with our wanderers through distance and danger,
And gladdened their path like a homeguiding star.

With the breath of our mountains in summers long vanished,
And visions that passed like a wave from the sand,
With hope for their country and joy from her banished.
Ye come to us ever, sweet songs of our land.

The spring time may come with the song of our glory,
To bid the green heart of the forest rejoice,
But the pine of the mountain though blasted and hoary,
And the rock in the desert, can send forth a voice,

It was thus in their triumph for deep desolations,
While ocean waves roll or the mountains shall stand,
Still hearts that are bravest and best of the nations,
Shall glory and live in the songs of our land

Music: Hymn to Our Lady of Knock sung by The McBennett Sisters, a trio from Co. Armagh, Northern Ireland

They were people of all ages
Gathered round the gabled wall
Poor and humble, men and women
Little children at your call,
We are gathered here before you
And our hearts are just the same
Filled with joy at such a vision
As we praise your name.

      Golden Rose, Queen of Ireland
      All my cares and troubles cease
      As I kneel with love before you
      Lady of Knock, My Queen of Peace

Though your message was unspoken
Still the truth and silence reigns
As I gaze upon your vision
And the truth I tried to find
Here I stand with John the Teacher
And with Joseph at your side
And I see the Lamb of God
On the altar glorified.

Golden rose …

And the lamb will conquer,
And the woman clothed in the sun,
Will shine her light on everyone.
Yes, the lamb will conquer,
And the woman clothed in the sun,
Will shine her light on everyone.

Golden rose … 

5 thoughts on “Psalm 145: Grateful Songs

  1. Rose Marie Tresp

    One of the sisters I lived with showed us a film about the story of Our Lady of Knock. When I went to Ireland, I went to the shrine. I was disappointed in how modern and touristy it looked although I know of no reason it shouldn’t look modern. Our mental images are not the same.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Mary Kearney

    What a beautiful post today. How fortunate we are to have had ancestors who taught us how to pray and how to sing. I’m thinking especially of my own dear mother today .she knew every Irish song and played them beautifully on the piano. We would stand around and sing as a family.☘️💚🍀

    Liked by 2 people

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