Reginald Heber (1783-1826), Bishop of Calcutta, who is probably best known for his hymn "From Greenland's icy mountains," makes a somewhat different reading of Psalm 137 in his prize poem, "Palestine," for rather than holding that it prefigures the agony and triumph of Christ, he sees it as an appeal to the Messiah for restoration to their homeland:

And their sad lyres, which, silent and unstrung,
In mournful ranks on Babel's willows hung,
Would oft awake to chant their future fame,
And from the skies their lingering Saviour claim.

Morison's commentary, on the other hand, interprets Psalm 137 as referring to Christ Mystical or the Church:

Let us . . . cheer ourselves with the prospect of that utter discomfiture which awaits all the enemies of God and his church . As the literal Babylon fell, by reason of its idolatry and cruel persecution, so every power which follows in its footsteps shall ultimately share its fate; till over the ruins of them all the triumphant church shall exclaim, 'Babylon the great is fallen, is fallen, and shall rise no more for ever" (3, 200-1).


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Print version published 1980; web version 1998