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Psalm 126 ("Greek numbering: Psalm 125) or Shir Hama'alot (שיר המעלות) is a "psalm and common piece of "liturgy. It is one of the "Songs of Ascents. In the "Latin Psalters it has the title "In convertendo Dominus.
In Judaism, Psalm 126 is sung in an upbeat, fast, joyous manner before "Birkat Hamazon (the Grace After Meals) on "Shabbat, "Jewish Holidays, "Rosh Chodesh, "Chol Hamoed, and by some on other "days in which Tachanun is not recited. While fourteen psalms actually begin with the words "Shir Hama'alot" ("Song of Ascents), this psalm is commonly referred to as "Shir Hama'alot" due to this common use.
Currently, in the Liturgy of the Hours, Psalm 126 is recited or sung at "vespers on "Wednesday of the third Week, In the liturgy of the Mass, it is read on the 30th Sunday in Ordinary Time of the year B6, the second Sunday of "Advent and 5th Sunday of "Lent that year.
This is a song of "joy and of "thanks to "God. The thanks is reflected in its third verse, "The LORD has done great things for us". But this is overshadowed by the joyousness of the author. The author is gleeful to return to "Zion.
In many areas the people who are going out to sow are starving. The only food they could possibly have is the seeds they kept for sowing. The people literally cry when they place their only food in the ground because they know they will receive the "harvest. Vs. 5 and 6 are stating that when we give sacrificially to the point of the last portion, God will be faithful to bring in the bountiful harvest. It also shows that those who plan for the future, will be rewarded.
The psalm was set as a "motet in Latin by composers including "Dmitri Bortnyansky, "Jean-Philippe Rameau ("In convertendo Dominus) and "Lorenzo Perosi. It was set to music in "Latin by "Jules Van Nuffel, "In convertendo Dominus, and in a 1998 version by "Philip Glass in which the chorus sings worldless syllables and a narrator recites the text in English.
Verses 5 and 6 were set by Brahms (in "German) in the first movement of "A German Requiem. Other German partial settings were made by "Heinrich Schütz, "Johann Hermann Schein and Heinrich Hartmann. Verses of the psalm have been set in English by composers including "William Byrd and "Charles Villiers Stanford.