In the 2019 Prayer Book we’ve got a nice collection of ten Supplemental Canticles to spice up the Daily Office a bit.  I’ve written about them before, in general, and I’ve made recommendations as to when one might most appropriate use each of them.  You can find that article here.

Today let’s look at Canticle 8: Ecce, Deus, on page 85, which this Customary appoints for regular weekdays through Trinitytide.  This short canticle is taken from Isaiah 12:2-6, but if you compare the text of this Canticle to, say, the ESV translation of the Bible, you’ll find that the phraseology is quite different indeed.  Most of the differences are verb tenses (something that is honestly kind of squirrelly in Hebrew anyway) and prepositions (which also are pretty loose in Hebrew), which is already enough to give a different “feel” to a text without actually substantially changing the meaning.

As it turns out, the wording used in the Prayer Book is the same as that found in the 1979 Book, where Ecce Deus is Canticle 9 on page 86, named “The First Song of Isaiah.”  So this translation was done by the Rev. Dr. Charles Guilbert, who was heavily involved in the crafting of the 1979 Book and in particular its Psalter.

The text of the Canticle itself is actually two psalms strung together.  Isaiah 12:1-2 and 4-6 are brief songs of praise to God for his deliverance, connected by verse 3.  The first part is more directed toward God, speaking of and to him; the second has more of a human audience in mind, calling upon others to give God praise and thanks also.  Both in formal Bible translations and our liturgical translation, this pattern of praise followed by invitation can be discerned.

The rubric on page 85 indicate that it is appropriate for any time, noting that its themes and content have no specific connotation toward Easter or Advent or any other particular occasion – it is a Canticle for all seasons!  So this is as good a time as any to enjoy Ecce Deus, if you ask me.

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