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Cogitaverunt impii

Antiphon for Maundy Thursday

Cogitaverunt impii ("The ungodly have thought") is the second antiphon of the Second Nocturn, sung on Maundy Thursday.

Dom Guéranger explains its meaning:

“The fifth psalm conveys a moral teaching, which, if listened to, would correct many false judgments of the world. It often happens that men are shaken at seeing the wicked prosperous, and the virtuous afflicted.

"It was the temptation which overcame the Apostles, when, seeing their divine Master in the hands of His enemies, they lost their faith in Him as the Messias. The psalmist owns that he himself was troubled by the same kind of thought; but God enlightened him to see the truth, that if Divine Providence permit iniquity to triumph for a time, the day is sure to come when He will punish the wicked, and avenge the just that have suffered persecution.” (1)

Cogitaverunt impii is here interpreted by the Brothers of the Little Oratory of San Diego, led by John Polhamus.

Listen to Cogitaverunt impii


Latin text

Ant. Cogitaverunt impii,
Et locuti sunt nequitiam:
Iniquitatem in excelso locuti sunt.

Psalm 72:
1. Quam bonus Israel Deus,
His qui recto sunt corde.

2. Mei autem pene moti sunt pedes:
Pene effusi sunt gressus mei;

3. Quia zelavi super iniquos,
Pacem peccatorum videns.

4. Quia non est respectus morti eorum:
Et firmamentum in plaga eorum.

5. In labore hominum non sunt,
Et cum hominibus non flagellabuntur.

6. Ideo tenuit eos superbia,
Operti sunt iniquitate
Et impietate sua.

7. Prodiit quasi ex adipe Iniquitas eorum:
Transierunt in affectum cordis.

8. Cogitaverunt et locuti sunt nequitiam:
Iniquitatem in excelso locuti sunt.

9. Posuerunt in caelum os suum:
Et lingua eorum transivit in terra.

10. Ideo convertetur populus meus hic:
Et dies pleni invenientur in eis.

11. Et dixerunt : Quomodo scit Deus,
Et si est scientia in excelso?

12. Ecce ipsi peccatores,
Et abundantes in saeculo,
Obtinuerunt divitias.

13. Et dixi: Ergo sine causa justificavi cor meum,
Et lavi inter innocentes manus meas.

14. Et fui flagellatus tota die,
Et castigatio mea in matutinis.

15. Si dicebam : Narrabo sic;
Ecce nationem filiorum Tuorum reprobavi.

16. Existimabam ut cognoscerem hoc;
Labor est ante me :

17. Donec intrem in sanctuarium Dei,
Et intelligam in novissimis eorum.

18. Verumtamen propter dolos posuisti eis;
Dejecisti eos dum allevarentur.

19. Quomodo facti sunt in desolationem,
Subito defecerunt:
Perierunt propter iniquitatem suam.

20. Velut somnium surgentium, Domine:
In civitate tua imaginem ipsorum
Ad nihilum rediges.

21. Quia inflammatum est cor meum,
Et renes mei commutati sunt;
Et ego ad nihilum redactus sum, et nescivi;

22.Ut jumentum factus sum apud te,
Et ego semper tecum.

23. Tenuisti manum dexteram meam:
Et in voluntate tua deduxisti me,
Et cum gloria suscepisti me.

24. Quid enim mihi est in coelo?
Et a te quid volui super terram?

25. Defecit caro mea et cor meum;
Deus cordis mei,
Et pars mea Deus in aeternum.

26. Quia ecce qui elongant
Se a te peribunt;
Perdidisti omnes
Qui fornicantur abs te.

27. Mihi autem adhaerere Deo bonum est,
Ponere in Domino Deo spem meam;

28. Ut annuntiem omnes praedicationes tuas,
In portis filiae Sion.


English translation:

Ant. The ungodly have thought,
And spoken wickedness:
They have spoken iniquity on high.

Psalm 72:
1. How good is God to Israel,
To them who are of a right heart.

2. My feet almost faltered;
My steps almost went astray.

3. Because I was envious of the wicked,
Seeing the prosperity of sinners.

4. For they share not the works of the mortal:
Nor is the plague in their horizon.

5. They have not the suffering of men:
Neither shall they be scourged like other men.

6. Therefore pride has held them fast:
They are covered with their iniquity
And their wickedness.

7. Their iniquity sprouts from their fat heart:
The fantasies of their heart overflow.

8. They have thought and spoken wickedness:
They have spoken iniquity on high.

9. They have opened their mouth against Heaven:
And their words go all over the earth.

10. For this reason my peole shall turn to them:
And shall find abundance in them.

11. And they said: Doth God know this,
And is there knowledge in the Most High?

12. Behold such are the sinners;
And yet tranquil in the world
They increase their fortunes.

13. And I said: In vain I kept my heart pure,
And washed my hands among the innocent.

14. And I have been scourged each day,
And my chastisement has been every morning.

15. If I said: I will speak [or agree] with them:
I would be a traitor of the race of thy children.

16. I reflected to understand this:
It is as labor in my sight:

17. Until I went into the sanctuary of God,
And understood where they will end.

18. But indeed thou hast put them in slippery roads:
Thou hast cast them in the failure.

19. How are they brought to desolation!
They have suddenly ceased to be:
They have perished by reason of their iniquity.

20. As the dream of the one who awakes, O Lord,
So their image shall be brought to nothing
In thy city.

21. When my heart was exasperated,
And my reins had changed:
And I am brought to nothing, and I knew not.

22. I am become as a beast before thee:
However, I will be always with thee.

23. Thou hast held me by my right hand:
And by thy will thou hast conducted me:
And with glory thou hast received me.

24. For what have I in heaven, but thee?
And besides thee, what do I desire upon earth?

25. For thee my flesh and heart hath fainted away:
Thou art the God of my heart,
And the God that is my portion for ever.

26. For behold they who go far away
From thee shall perish:
Thou hast destroyed all them
That are disloyal to thee.

27. But it is good for me to stick close to my God.
To put my hope in the Lord God.

28. So that I may declare all thy praises
In the gates of the daughter of Sion.


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Cogitaverunt impii chant

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  1. Dom Guéranger, The Liturgical Year, St. Bonaventure Publications, 2000, vol. 6, p. 318-319.

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