Translating Psalms (28)

Probably my favorite psalm and certainly my favorite to sing.  Clearly made for parts; I learned a modern arrangement with male and female parts in college that I still remember well.  This one just touches something magical for me.  Imagine David and the people singing it as the Ark is installed in Jerusalem.

“Afferte Domino” (Psalm 28)

[1] Psalmus David, in consummatione tabernaculi. Afferte Domino, filii Dei, afferte Domino, filios arietum.

A Psalm of David, at the completion of the tabernacle.  Bring to the Lord, ye sons of God, bring to the Lord sons of rams.

[2] Afferte Domino gloriam et honorem; afferte Domino gloriam nomini ejus; adorate Dominum in atrio sancto ejus.

Bring to the Lord glory and honor; bring to the Lord glory of His name; adore ye the Lord in His holy hall.

[3] Vox Domini super aquas; Deus majestatis intonuit; Dominus super aquas multas.

The Voice of the Lord upon the waters; the God of majesty thunders; the Lord upon many waters.

[4] Vox Domini in virtute; vox Domini in magnificentia.

The Voice of the Lord in power; the Voice of the Lord in magnificence.

[5] Vox Domini confringentis cedros, et confringet Dominus cedros Libani;

The Voice of the Lord shattering cedars, and the Lord shatters the cedars of Lebanon;

[6] et comminuet eas tamquam vitulum Libani : et dilectus quemadmodum filius unicornium.

and demolishes them like as the calf of Lebanon, and beloved even as the son of unicorns.

[7] Vox Domini intercidentis flammam ignis.

The Voice of the Lord severing a flame of fire.

[8] Vox Domini concutientis desertum et commovebit Dominus desertum Cades.

The Voice of the Lord striking the desert and the Lord shall move the desert of Kadesh.

[9] Vox Domini praeparantis cervos, et revelabit condensa; et in templo ejus omnes dicent gloriam.

The Voice of the Lord preparing stags and He shall uncover thickets; and in His temple all shall say glory.

[10] Dominus diluvium inhabitare facit, et sedebit Dominus rex in aeternum. Dominus virtutem populo suo dabit; Dominus benedicet populo suo in pace.

The Lord makes to inhabit the flood, and the Lord shall sit a king unto the eternal.  The Lord shall give power to His people; the Lord shall bless His people in peace.


There’s one feature of this psalm that I had never noticed before: all those participles–shattering the cedars, striking the desert, etc.–are modifying the Lord, not His voice.  Same with the Septuagint.  Perhaps it’s ultimately a distinction without a difference, but it’s worth a ponder.

In order to show this in English I would have had to use more words than I cared to, turning those participial phrases into relative clauses.  Boo!  Hiss!  We don’t do that around here.  Learn more Latin and avoid such hassles!

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