Translating Psalms (34)

“Judica, Domine, nocentes me” (Psalm 34)

[1] Ipsi David. Judica, Domine, nocentes me; expugna impugnantes me.

For David himself.  Judge, O Lord, those harming me; attack those fighting against me.

[2] Apprehende arma et scutum, et exsurge in adjutorium mihi.

Seize arms and shield and arise unto assistance for me.

[3] Effunde frameam, et conclude adversus eos qui persequuntur me; dic animae meae : Salus tua ego sum.

Pour out the spear and enclose against those who pursue me; speak to my soul, “Your safety I am.”

[4] Confundantur et revereantur quaerentes animam meam; avertantur retrorsum et confundantur cogitantes mihi mala.

Let them be confounded and fear, those seeking my soul; let them be turned back and confounded, those thinking evils for me.

[5] Fiant tamquam pulvis ante faciem venti, et angelus Domini coarctans eos.

Let them be like dust before the face of the wind and the angel of the Lord surrounding them.

[6] Fiat via illorum tenebrae, et lubricum; et angelus Domini persequens eos.

Let their way be of shadows and slippery, and the angel of the Lord pursuing them.

[7] Quoniam gratis absconderunt mihi interitum laquei sui, supervacue exprobraverunt animam meam.

For freely they have hidden for me the ruin of their snare; vainly have they made proof against my soul.

[8] Veniat illi laqueus quem ignorat, et captio quam abscondit apprehendat eum, et in laqueum cadat in ipsum.

Let it come for him, the snare which he ignores, and let the trap which is hidden apprehend him, and into the snare let him fall into the same.

[9] Anima autem mea exsultabit in Domino, et delectabitur super salutari suo.

But my soul will exsult in the Lord and will be made glad over its salvation.

[10] Omnia ossa mea dicent : Domine, quis similis tibi? eripiens inopem de manu fortiorum ejus; egenum et pauperem a diripientibus eum.

All my bones will say, “O Lord, who is like You?  Rescuing the empty from the hand of his betters, the wanting and the poor from those snatching him.

[11] Surgentes testes iniqui, quae ignorabam interrogabant me.

Rising unjust witnesses, they ask me what I know not.

[12] Retribuebant mihi mala pro bonis, sterilitatem animae meae.

They repay to me evils for goods, barrenness to my soul.

[13] Ego autem, cum mihi molesti essent, induebar cilicio; humiliabam in jejunio animam meam, et oratio mea in sinu meo convertetur.

But I, when they molested me, I put on the hair shirt; I humbled in fasting my soul and my prayer will turn back on my breast.

[14] Quasi proximum et quasi fratrem nostrum sic complacebam; quasi lugens et contristatus sic humiliabar.

As a neighbor and as our brother so was I pleased; as one mourning and saddened so was I humbled.

[15] Et adversum me laetati sunt, et convenerunt; congregata sunt super me flagella, et ignoravi.

And against me they rejoiced and drew together; there were gathered over me whips and I ignored.

[16] Dissipati sunt, nec compuncti, tentaverunt me, subsannaverunt me subsannatione; frenduerunt super me dentibus suis.

The have been scattered and, unbothered, have tested me, have mocked me with mockery; they have gnashed over me with their teeth. 

[17] Domine, quando respicies? Restitue animam meam a malignitate eorum, a leonibus unicam meam.

O Lord, when will You look back?  Restore my soul from their evil-doing, from the lions my only one.

[18] Confitebor tibi in ecclesia magna; in populo gravi laudabo te.

I will confess You in the great assembly; in a people serious I will praise You.

[19] Non supergaudeant mihi qui adversantur mihi inique, qui oderunt me gratis, et annuunt oculis.

Let them not rejoice over me, who turn against me unjustly, who hate me freely and accuse with eyes.

[20] Quoniam mihi quidem pacifice loquebantur; et in iracundia terrae loquentes, dolos cogitabant.

For to me at least peacefully did they speak; and speaking in the passion of the earth, deceits did they think.

[21] Et dilataverunt super me os suum; dixerunt : Euge, euge! viderunt oculi nostri.

And they enlarged over me their mouth; they said, “Yes! Yes! Our eyes have seen.”

[22] Vidisti, Domine, ne sileas; Domine, ne discedas a me.

You have seen, O Lord; lest You be silent; O Lord, lest You withdraw from me.

[23] Exsurge et intende judicio meo, Deus meus; et Dominus meus, in causam meam.

Arise and hasten to my judgment, my God, and my Lord unto my cause.

[24] Judica me secundum justitiam tuam, Domine Deus meus, et non supergaudeant mihi.

Judge me according to Your justice, O Lord my God, and let them not rejoice over me.

[25] Non dicant in cordibus suis : Euge, euge, animae nostrae; nec dicant : Devoravimus eum.

Let them not speak in their hearts, “Yes! Yes! For our soul.” Nor let them say, “We have devoured him.”

[26] Erubescant et revereantur simul qui gratulantur malis meis; induantur confusione et reverentia qui magna loquuntur super me.

Let them be put to shame and afraid at once, who give thanks for my evils; let them be clothed with confusion and fear, who speak great things over me.

[27] Exsultent et laetentur qui volunt justitiam meam; et dicant semper : Magnificetur Dominus, qui volunt pacem servi ejus.

Let them exsult and be glad who will my justice; and let them say ever, “He is magnified, the Lord, Who wills the peace of His servant.”

[28] Et lingua mea meditabitur justitiam tuam, tota die laudem tuam.

And my tongue will ponder Your justice, the whole day Your praise.


v. 8 in laqueum…in ipsum is a very strange-looking construction.  tmesis but with the preposition repeated, I guess.  I left it awkward in the English on purpose.

v. 16 I wasn’t sure which way to go with nec compuncti.  Quintillian would probably tell me something about whether I should link it with the dissipati sunt or look ahead to the tentaverunt.  Embrace the ambiguity!

v. 19 annuunt is a friend I learned about in Ratramnus (although he uses innuunt).  It’s literally a nod of the head, but the metaphorical uses are many indeed.  Any kind of gesture or non-verbal communication, any kind of signalling or body language or whatever, abstract consent to a thing, on and on.  Douay Rheims cleverly takes “annuunt oculis” to mean to wink, which is perfectly fair.  I think the idea here, with “nod toward,” is a cowardly accusation, nodding toward someone to “pick them out of a lineup” or Judas-kiss them for the mob to lay hold.

v. 21, 25 euge! is an interjection of delight, pleasure, happy surprise.  Yay! Nice! GG!  FTW!  Rather than try to give a prose-y translation, I picked an English interjection that does the same.  Don’t worry, that’s about as dynamic as my translations get.  I won’t get carried away!

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