Translating Psalms (21)

Famously quoted during Christ’s Passion, and fittingly translated (though not posted) during Holy Week.  Nowhere else is it more obvious that the psalms are the script and soundtrack of Christ’s life.  Go all out on the typology when you read this: by the end we’ll be singing about the Church, the communion of saints, and the Eucharist!

“Deus, Deus meus” (Psalm 21)

[1] In finem, pro susceptione matutina. Psalmus David.

Unto the end, for the morning undertaking. A Psalm of David.

[2] Deus, Deus meus, respice in me: quare me dereliquisti? Longe a salute mea verba delictorum meorum.

God, My God, regard me: why have You abandoned me?  Far from my safety are the words of my faults.

[3] Deus meus, clamabo per diem, et non exaudies; et nocte, et non ad insipientiam mihi.

My God, I will cry through the day, and You will not hear; and at night, and not unto folly for me.

[4] Tu autem in sancto habitas, laus Israel.

But You, in the holy place You dwell, the Praise of Israel. Continue reading Translating Psalms (21)

Translating Psalms (20)

“Domine, in virtute” (Psalm 20)

[1] In finem. Psalmus David.

Unto the End.  A Psalm of David.

[2] Domine, in virtute tua laetabitur rex, et super salutare tuum exsultabit vehementer.

O Lord, in Thy virtue shall the king be made glad, and over Thy salvation shall he exsult mightily.

[3] Desiderium cordis ejus tribuisti ei, et voluntate labiorum ejus non fraudasti eum.

The desire of his heart You have paid to him, and of the will of his lips You have not defrauded him. Continue reading Translating Psalms (20)

Translating Psalms (19)

The act of typing up my notes on various spots in the passage has been of great help in catching my mistakes.  I get halfway through griping about a difficulty when I finally realize the solution.  Lesson in there somewhere, I guess.

“Exaudiat te Dominus” (Psalm 19)

  1. In finem. Psalmus David.
  2. Exaudiat te Dominus in die tribulationis; protegat te nomen Dei Jacob.
  3. Mittat tibi auxilium de sancto, et de Sion tueatur te.
  4. Memor sit omnis sacrificii tui, et holocaustum tuum pingue fiat.
  5. Tribuat tibi secundum cor tuum, et omne consilium tuum confirmet.
  6. Laetabimur in salutari tuo; et in nomine Dei nostri magnificabimur.
  7. Impleat Dominus omnes petitiones tuas; nunc cognovi quoniam salvum fecit Dominus christum suum. Exaudiet illum de caelo sancto suo, in potentatibus salus dexterae ejus.
  8. Hi in curribus, et hi in equis; nos autem in nomine Domini Dei nostri invocabimus.
  9. Ipsi obligati sunt, et ceciderunt, nos autem surreximus, et erecti sumus. Domine, salvum fac regem, et exaudi nos in die qua invocaverimus te.

Unto the end.  A Psalm of David.

May the Lord hear you in the day of tribulation; may it protect you, the Name of the God of Jacob.

May He send you aid from the holy place, and from Zion may He guard you.

May He be remindful of your every sacrifice, and may your holocaust be fatty.

May He pay you according to your heart, and confirm your every counsel.

We shall rejoice in Thy salvation; and in the name of our God shall we be magnified.

May the Lord fulfill all your petitions; now I know that the Lord has made safe His Christ.  He will hear him from His holy heaven, in powers the salvation of His right hand.

These in running, and these in horses; but we in the name of the Lord our God shall we call.

These same are bound, and have fallen, but we have arisen, and been made aright.  O Lord, make safe the king, and hear us on the day in which we shall invoke You.


“nomen Dei Jacob” I’ve deliberately set this one off at the end of the sentence so I can duplicate the ambiguity of the Latin.  I like to keep the Latin word order as much as possible, and in this case the verb, “protegat,” is front loaded.  I’m pretty confident that the subject is “nomen Dei Jacob” (may His Name protect you) but because “nomen” is neuter it can work as either subject or object.  In this case, “nomen” could be appositive to the direct object, “te,” so that you are the name of the God of Jacob.  Since the Latin word order encourages the double-entendre, I fought to preserve it.

Translating Psalms (18)

Translating texts you already know really well in English is cheating, but the twists and turns are always interesting.  And taking issue with phrases of translators is, like, 9/10ths of the fun of translating anyway.

“Caeli enarrant” (Psalm 18)

[1] In finem. Psalmus David.

Unto the end.  A Psalm of David.

[2] Caeli enarrant gloriam Dei, et opera manuum ejus annuntiat firmamentum.

The heavens tell out the glory of God, and the firmament announces the works of His hand.

[3] Dies diei eructat verbum, et nox nocti indicat scientiam.

Day of day bellows the word, and night of night indicates the knowledge. Continue reading Translating Psalms (18)

Translating Psalms (17)

Ouch.  Finally hit a long one.  -Deep Breath-

“Diligam te, Domine” (Psalm 17)

[1] In finem. Puero Domini David, qui locutus est Domino verba cantici hujus, in die qua eripuit eum Dominus de manu omnium inimicorum ejus, et de manu Saul, et dixit:

Unto the end.  To David, boy of the Lord, who spoke to the Lord the words of this canticle, on the day in which the Lord rescued him from the hand of all his enemies, and from the hand of Saul, and he said:

[2] Diligam te, Domine, fortitudo mea.

I shall love Thee, O Lord, my strength.

[3] Dominus firmamentum meum, et refugium meum, et liberator meus. Deus meus adjutor meus, et sperabo in eum; protector meus, et cornu salutis meae, et susceptor meus.

The Lord is my firmament, and my refuge, and my liberator.  My God is my helper and I shall hope in Him; my protector, and the horn of my salvation, and my sustainer. Continue reading Translating Psalms (17)

Translating Psalms (16)

It’s going to be funny when I finally get myself confused by the numbering and translate the same psalm twice without realizing it.

I am resisting the urge to go back and double-check my previous work, even though I caught myself making a funny, terrible mistake in this psalm.  Onward and upward, lest I never finish!

“Exaudi, Domine, justitiam” (Psalm 16)

[1] Oratio David. Exaudi, Domine, justitiam meam; intende deprecationem meam. Auribus percipe orationem meam, non in labiis dolosis.

An orison of David.  Hear, O Lord, my justice; attend to my prayer of warding.  With ears perceive my orison, not on deceitful lips.

[2] De vultu tuo judicium meum prodeat; oculi tui videant aequitates.

From Thy face let my judgment go forth; let Thine eyes see equities.

[3] Probasti cor meum, et visitasti nocte; igne me examinasti, et non est inventa in me iniquitas.

Thou has tested my heart, and hast visited by night; by fire hast Thou examined me, and there has not been found in me iniquity. Continue reading Translating Psalms (16)

Translating Psalms (15)

Some of the expressions in this one really stretch the Latin.  It’s interesting to think about the difference between what St. Jerome was trying to capture with them and what someone like St. Anselm read in them.  I leave these spots in the translation discordant to draw attention to them.

“Conserva me, Domine” (Psalm 15)

[1] Tituli inscriptio, ipsi David. Conserva me, Domine, quoniam speravi in te.

Inscription of the title, of David himself.  Preserve me, O Lord, for I have hoped in You.

[2] Dixi Domino: Deus meus es tu, quoniam bonorum meorum non eges.

I have said to the Lord: You are my God, for You have no need of my goods.

[3] Sanctis, qui sunt in terra ejus, mirificavit omnes voluntates meas in eis.

For the holy ones, who are on His earth, He has made marvelous all my wills in them. Continue reading Translating Psalms (15)

Translating Psalms (14)

“Domine, quis habitabit” (Psalm 14)

  1. Psalmus David.
  2. Domine, quis habitabit in tabernaculo tuo? aut quis requiescet in monte sancto tuo?
  3. Qui ingreditur sine macula, et operatur justitiam;
  4. qui loquitur veritatem in corde suo; qui non egit dolum in lingua sua; nec fecit proximo suo malum, et opprobrium non accepit adversus proximos suos.
  5. Ad nihilum deductus est in conspectu ejus malignus; timentes autem Dominum glorificat. Qui jurat proximo suo, et non decipit;
  6. qui pecuniam suam non dedit ad usuram, et munera super innocentem non accepit. Qui facit haec non movebitur in aeternum.

A Psalm of David.

O Lord, who shall dwell in Thy tabernacle? Or who shall rest on Thy sacred mount?

Who enters without stain, and works justice;

who speaks truth in his heart; who has not worked deceit in his tongue; nor made evil for his neighbor, and not accepted scandal against his neighbors.

Unto nothing has he been led away in his sight, the maligner; but those fearing the Lord he glorifies.  Who swears to his neighbor, and deceives not;

who has not given his money unto usury, and rewards over the innocent has not accepted.  Who does these things shall not be moved into eternity.

Translating Psalms (13)

The Fool: one who believes that he will never face a Judge for his wickedness, and so he oppresses the weak and needy.

“Dixit insipiens” (Psalm 13)

  1. In finem. Psalmus David.
  2. Dixit insipiens in corde suo: Non est Deus. Corrupti sunt, et abominabiles facti sunt in studiis suis; non est qui faciat bonum, non est usque ad unum.
  3. Dominus de caelo prospexit super filios hominum, ut videat si est intelligens, aut requirens Deum.
  4. Omnes declinaverunt, simul inutiles facti sunt. Non est qui faciat bonum, non est usque ad unum. Sepulchrum patens est guttur eorum; linguis suis dolose agebant. Venenum aspidum sub labiis eorum. Quorum os maledictione et amaritudine plenum est; veloces pedes eorum ad effundendum sanguinem. Contritio et infelicitas in viis eorum, et viam pacis non cognoverunt; non est timor Dei ante oculos eorum.
  5. Nonne cognoscent omnes qui operantur iniquitatem, qui devorant plebem meam sicut escam panis?
  6. Dominum non invocaverunt; illic trepidaverunt timore, ubi non erat timor.
  7. Quoniam Dominus in generatione justa est, consilium inopis confudistis, quoniam Dominus spes ejus est.
  8. Quis dabit ex Sion salutare Israel? Cum averterit Dominus captivitatem plebis suae, exsultabit Jacob, et laetabitur Israel.

Unto the end.  A Psalm of David.

The fool hath said in his heart: There is no God.  They have been corrupted, and made abominable in their zeals; there is none who does good, there is not even one.

The Lord hath looked down from heaven over the sons of men, that He may see if there is a wise, or one seeking God.

All have fallen down, at once have been made useless.  There is none who does good, not even one.  An open grave is their throat; with their tongues deceitfully do they work.  The venom of asps under their lips.  Whose mouth with malediction and bitterness is full; quick are their feet to the shedding of blood.  Sorrow and unhappiness in their ways, and the way of peace they know not; there is no fear of God before their eyes.

Will they not learn, all who work iniquity, who devour My people as if a food of bread?

The Lord they have not invoked; there they have trembled with fear, where there was no fear.

For the Lord in the generation is just, you have confounded the counsel of the poor, for the Lord is his hope.

Who will give out of Zion the salvation of Israel?  When the Lord turns aside the captivity of His people, Jacob shall exult, and Israel shall be glad.


Verse 4 sure looks long!  And hey, those phrases are all stock from previous psalms!  You’ll find that modern translations follow the Hebrew here, since the Greek/Latin has apparently gotten corrupted with a massive gloss (that’s my guess–I never did study Psalms in my Biblical studies program).

But as the great Bob Ross would say, we don’t make mistakes here, only happy accidents.  It may not be original, but it’s darn fine.  STET.

Translating Psalms (12)

“Usquequo, Domine” (Psalm 12)

  1. In finem. Psalmus David.
  2. Usquequo, Domine, oblivisceris me in finem? usquequo avertis faciem tuam a me?
  3. Quamdiu ponam consilia in anima mea, dolorem in corde meo per diem?
  4. Usquequo exaltabitur inimicus meus super me?
  5. Respice, et exaudi me, Domine Deus meus. Illumina oculos meos, ne umquam obdormiam in morte;
  6. nequando dicat inimicus meus: Praevalui adversus eum. Qui tribulant me exsultabunt si motus fuero;
  7. ego autem in misericordia tua speravi. Exsultabit cor meum in salutari tuo. Cantabo Domino qui bona tribuit mihi; et psallam nomini Domini altissimi.

Unto the end.  A Psalm of David.

How long, O Lord, will You forget me to the last?  How long will You turn Your face from me?

How long shall I set counsels in my soul, sorrow in my heart through the day?

How long shall my enemy be exalted over me?

Regard, and hear me, O Lord my God.  Illuminate my eyes, lest ever I sleep in death;

lest ever my enemy say: I have prevailed against him.  Who troubles me shall exult if I shall be moved;

but I, in Thy mercy, have I hoped.  My heart shall exult in Thy salvation.  I shall sing to the Lord who delivers goods to me; and I shall sing to the name of the Lord Most High.