Murdering the Venite (Psalm 95)
The "Venite" (Psalm 95) is one of the most well known and essential prayers in Anglican liturgy. Unfortunately, America's Anglicans and Episcopalians for more than 200 years have been deprived of the full text. The second half of the Venite has been either skipped or replaced with a non-Scriptural text*.
Why is this important? Because while the 1st half of Psalm 95 is a prayer of God's people calling them to worship, the 2nd half is God's (Christ's to be specific) response to that prayer, reminding His people, notwithstanding their expressions of religious devotion that they remain the children of wrath apart from His mercy, that it was He who withstood temptation in the wilderness, not they. The sense that one gets from the Venite without its true 2nd half is that it might be possible to appease the Lord's wrath with religious devotion.
One wonders whether things might have turned out differently with the Episcopalians, and now with the various species of "continuing" Anglicans if only their Prayer Book had remained true to Scripture and true to the 1662 BCP.
- The first half of the Venite. All BCP's have the text of Psalm 95:
O come, let us sing unto the Lord: let us heartily rejoice in the strength of our salvation.Let us come before his presence with thanksgiving, and show ourselves glad in him with psalms.For the Lord is a great God, and a great King above all gods.In his hand are the corners of the earth: the strength of the hills is his also.The sea is his, and he made it: and his hands prepared the dry land.O come, let us worship and bow down: let us kneel before the Lord our maker.For he is our God; and we are the people of his pasture, and the sheep of his hand.
- The 2nd half of the Venite. Only the 1662 BCP has the text of Psalm 95:
To day if ye will hear his voice, Harden not your heart, as in the provocation,
and as in the day of temptation in the wilderness:
When your fathers tempted me, proved me, and saw my work.
Forty years long was I grieved with this generation, and said,
They ever err in their hearts, they verily have not known my ways.
Therefore I said unto them in my wrath that they should not enter into my rest.
- The 1928 BCP and the 1892 BCP skip the 2nd half completely.
- The 1979 Rite I and the 1789 BCP replace the 2nd half with a made up prayer*:
O worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness;
let the whole earth stand in awe of him.
For he cometh, for he cometh to judge the earth,
and with righteousness to judge the world
and the peoples with his truth.
- The 1979 Rite II, following no particular tradition, adds only this:
Oh, that today you would hearken to his voice!
* To be precise, this text comes from Psalm 96: 9, 13, the meaning of which is not the same as what it has replaced. The truth of Scripture does not come from aggregating text segments according to one's own will but rather from Scripture as it is actually written. The resulting distortion robs the text of God's intent.