Psalm 97: 1, 6, 11-12
The responsorial psalm for Christmas Mass at Dawn comes from Psalm 97, an enthronement psalm that praises God as king over all.
With the arrival of Christ, the Incarnate Word, God’s kingdom on earth will be restored, and his subjects will share in his victory.
The LORD is king;
The psalm opens with the traditional enthronement declaration: “The LORD is king!”
let the earth rejoice; let the many isles be glad.
God’s rule calls for celebration, a celebration that extends beyond the confines of Israel to many isles (also translated as “many coastlands”), an image denoting the furthest parts of the world.
The heavens proclaim his justice,
This reference to the heavens includes all the celestial beings, which were once thought to be gods themselves. There is no longer any vying among them; instead, they are all intent on praising God’s justice.
and all peoples see his glory.
Not only Israel but all people see God’s glory (kābôd), the splendor that shines from God’s holiness.
Light dawns for the just; and gladness, for the upright of heart.
Just as the cosmic forces of good are frequently characterized as light, so the good fortune that flows from upright living is associated with light. The just do not languish in darkness; they flourish in the light, and in this their hearts are glad.
Be glad in the LORD, you just, and give thanks to his holy name.
The passage concludes with an exhortation to be glad and give thanks. These are fitting responses to the graciousness of God within which the righteous have been blessed.