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Stephanus Fabricius on the Christian Prince (1)

Our next installment, this time on 148:12 in addition to 148:11, comes from Stephanus Fabricius (1569-1648), a pastor in Bern. Actually, our next several installments will come from him, because his comments are extensive. His remarks on each Psalm in his Sacrae conciones in centum quinquaginta Psalmos Davidis regis, et aliorum sanctorum Prophetarum1 are divided into several conciones, or discourses, that were originally given at the church in Bern. In the twelfth and thirteenth of those on Psalm 148, out of fourteen total, he treats the verses in which I am interested.

Within each concio, moreover, there are generall three sections, an introductory section, one on doctrina, doctrine, in the text, and one on usus, its uses. Today’s post includes the first, introductory, section of Discourse 12.

In this introduction, he reprises the major divisions of the Psalm and takes the references in verses 11 and 12 as representative examples of the universal duty to praise God. We shall see in future installments whether he believes that is the only significance to the particular types of persons mentioned.

It is a wholesome reminder that he gives us in the last section, that even the lisping of infants is welcome and pleasing to God.

Text and Translation

Concio XII

Proposuit sibi S. Propheta in hoc Psalmo, omnes omnino creaturas Dei, ad perennes Dei laudes decantandas excitare. Hasque creaturas in tres ordines sive classes distribuit: nimirum

I. In superiores & coelestes: quales sunt Angeli sancti, Sol, Luna & reliquae stellae, aliaque sidera coelestia: nubes quoque, quas intelligit per aquas supra coelestes; quo etiam referri possunt meteora, quae fiunt in aere.

II. In inferiores: nempe terrestres & marinas.

III. In tertia classe in specie comprehendit homines.

Postquam igitur Propheta singulas creaturas priorum duarum classium allocutus est: nunc ordine tandem etiam ad homines progreditur, iisque inprimis laudem Dei inculcat, v. 11, 12.

Homines, a quibus praecipue laudem Dei exposcit, distinguit

I. Iuxta statum: nempe in superiores seu magistratus, & in inferiories seu subditos. Et superiores quidem vel magistratum exprimit nomine tum

Regum, intelligens summum magistratum:

Principum & Iudicum: quibus nimirum authoritate Regum administratio Reipublicae in bello & pace commendata est.

Inferiores vero seu subditos exprimit nomine populorum seu nationum, &c.

II. Secundum sexum: nominans: iuvenes & virgines: atque sic sextum tum masculinum, tum foemineum intelligit. Quod vero Propheta non simpliciter virgines nominat, sed notanter et emphatice inquit; Atque etiam virgines, eo innuere vult; quod licet virgines adolescentulae fere ad opera & munia domestica natae & educandae videantur, hunc tamen laborem illas non eximere ab hoc pietatis officio.

III. Secundum aetatem: Senes cum pueris. Atque ita innuit, adeo nullam aetatem excipi, quin etiam balbutientium infantum voces Deo gratae sint et acceptae.

Sic totum genus humanum, & ex universo genere humano omnes omnino homines, cuiuscunque tandem sint status, ordinis, conditionis, sexus & aetatis, complectitur, nemine plane excepto.

Discourse 12

The holy Prophet proposed for himself in this Psalm to rouse absolutely all the creatures of God to singing the eternal praises of God. And he divides these creatures into three orders or classes, to wit:

I. Into superior and heavenly creatures; of this sort are the holy angels, the sun, the moon, and the rest of the stars, and other heavenly bodies; clouds also, which he understands by “the waters above the heavens”; whither also meteors, which appear in the air, can be referred.

II. Into inferior creatures, namely creatures of the earth and sea.

III. In the third class in view he includes men.

Therefore after the Prophet has spoken of individual creatures belong to the first two classes, he now finally progresses in order also to men, and upon these creatures in particular he impresses the importance of the praise of God, v. 11, 12.

He distinguishes the men from whom he especially demands the praise of God

I. According to station: namely, into superiors or magistrates and into inferiors or subjects. And superiors, indeed, or the magistrate2 he then describes by the name

Of kings, understanding the highest magistrate;

Princes and judges, to whom is entrusted, doubtless by the authority of kings, the administration of the commonwealth in war and peace.

But inferiors or subjects he describes by the name of peoples or nations, etc.

II. According to sex, naming “young men and maidens”: and thus he understands both the male and the female. But in truth the Prophet does not simply name “maidens,” but he says markedly and with emphasis, “And also maidens.”  By this he wishes to intimate that, although “maidens” generally are seen to be young women born and reared for domestic works and duties, nevertheless this labor does not remove them from this duty of piety.

III. According to age: “Old men with children.” And thus he intimates that no age at all is excepted; nay, rather, even the sounds of babbling babies are welcome to God and accepted [by him].

Thus the whole human race, and from the whole human race absolutely all men, to whatsoever station, order, condition, sex, and age they belong, is included, and clearly no one is left out.


  1. I have consulted the edition printed by Franciscus Nicolaus in 1622.
  2. Or possibly “magistracy.” In any case the change from the plural to the singular here is exceedingly harsh, and conflicts with what he does below with “subjects” (pl.). I am inclined to think that this must be a typographical error, though the text was the same in another edition consulted.

By E.J. Hutchinson

E.J. Hutchinson is Assistant Professor of Classics at Hillsdale College.

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