Translating Psalms (43)

“Deus, auribus nostris” (Psalm 43)

[1] In finem. Filiis Core ad intellectum.

Unto the end.  For the sons of Korah unto understanding.

[2] Deus, auribus nostris audivimus, patres nostri annuntiaverunt nobis, opus quod operatus es in diebus eorum, et in diebus antiquis.

O God with our ears we have heard, our fathers have announced to us, the work which You worked in their days and in days ancient.

[3] Manus tua gentes disperdidit, et plantasti eos; afflixisti populos et expulisti eos.

Your hand has down-ruined the nations and planted them; You have afflicted the peoples and cast them out.

[4] Nec enim in gladio suo possederunt terram, et brachium eorum non salvavit eos; sed dextera tua et brachium tuum, et illuminatio vultus tui, quoniam complacuisti in eis.

Nor indeed in their sword have they possessed the earth nor has their arm saved them; but Your right hand and Your arm and the illumination of Your face, for You were pleased in them.

[5] Tu es ipse rex meus et Deus meus, qui mandas salutes Jacob.

You, You are Yourself my king and my God, who commands the prosperities of Jacob.

[6] In te inimicos nostros ventilabimus cornu, et in nomine tuo spernemus insurgentes in nobis.

In You our enemies will we brandish on the horn, and in Your name will we scorn those rising against us.

[7] Non enim in arcu meo sperabo, et gladius meus non salvabit me;

Not indeed in my bow will I hope, and my sword will not save me;

[8] salvasti enim nos de affligentibus nos, et odientes nos confudisti.

For You have saved us from those afflicting us and those hating us You have confounded.

[9] In Deo laudabimur tota die; et in nomine tuo confitebimur in saeculum.

In God will we be praised all the day; and in Your name will we confess into the age.

[10] Nunc autem repulisti et confudisti nos; et non egredieris, Deus, in virtutibus nostris.

But now You have driven back and confounded us; and You will not march out, O God, among our forces.

[11] Avertisti nos retrorsum post inimicos nostros; et qui oderunt nos diripiebant sibi.

You have turned us away again after our enemies and who hate us despoiled to themselves.

[12] Dedisti nos tamquam oves escarum; et in gentibus dispersisti nos.

You have given us like sheep of victuals and among the nations You have sown us.

[13] Vendidisti populum tuum sine pretio; et non fuit multitudo in commutationibus eorum.

You have sold Your people without price; and there has not been a multitude in their exchanges.

[14] Posuisti nos opprobrium vicinis nostris, subsannationem et derisum his qui sunt in circuitu nostro.

You have placed us as a reproach to our neighbors, a mockery and derision to those who are in our circle.

[15] Posuisti nos in similitudinem gentibus, commotionem capitis in populis.

You have placed us unto likeness for the nations, a stirring of the head among the peoples.

[16] Tota die verecundia mea contra me est, et confusio faciei meae cooperuit me :

All the day my shame is against me, and confusion of my face all-covers me;

[17] a voce exprobrantis et obloquentis, a facie inimici et persequentis.

from the voice of the reproaching and the accusing, from the face of the enemy and the pursuing.

[18] Haec omnia venerunt super nos; nec obliti sumus te, et inique non egimus in testamento tuo.

All these things have come over us; nor have we forgotten You, and unjustly we have not done in Your covenant.

[19] Et non recessit retro cor nostrum; et declinasti semitas nostras a via tua;

And it has not fallen back again, our heart; and You have diverted our paths from Your way;

[20] quoniam humiliasti nos in loco afflictionis, et cooperuit nos umbra mortis.

for You have humbled us in the place of affliction and it has all-covered us, the shadow of death.

[21] Si obliti sumus nomen Dei nostri, et si expandimus manus nostras ad deum alienum,

If we have forgotten the name of our God and if we have spread out our hands to an alien god, 

[22] nonne Deus requiret ista? ipse enim novit abscondita cordis. Quoniam propter te mortificamur tota die; aestimati sumus sicut oves occisionis.

will not God seek out these things?  For He knows the hidden things of the heart.  For on account of You we are made to die all the day; we have been reckoned just as sheep of the slaughter.

[23] Exsurge; quare obdormis, Domine? exsurge, et ne repellas in finem.

Rise up; why do You sleep, O Lord?  Rise up and lest you drive back unto the end.

[24] Quare faciem tuam avertis? oblivisceris inopiae nostrae et tribulationis nostrae?

Why do Your face You turn away?  Why are You forgetful of our poverty and of our trouble?

[25] Quoniam humiliata est in pulvere anima nostra; conglutinatus est in terra venter noster.

For it has been humbled in the dust, our soul; it has all-cloven in the earth, our belly.

[26] Exsurge, Domine, adjuva nos, et redime nos propter nomen tuum.

Arise, O Lord, aid us and redeem us on account of Your name.


v. 4 disperdidit It’s tough to give a one word rendering here, similar to a point I made in a previous psalm.  We seldom have this kind of grammar in English, where we add a preposition to a verb to alter or further specify its meaning.  Again, say “He destroyed” or “He ruined” while making a crashing down gesture with the hand.  Or say that God’s hand “Michael Bay’d” the nations.  The only other option is to use extremely intense voice inflection with some Samuel Jackson-style profanities, but we’ll keep this PG.

v. 5 The intense syntax continues here; no doubt he’s trying to follow some sort of meter or whatever but the effect in Latin is floridity worthy of a Renaissance (or Silver Age!) poet. (Shameful post script: wordpress does not recognize floridity as an English word)

v. 6 ventilabimus cornu A pretty strange one.  “We will ventilate on a horn”…uh, ok.  Ventilate like strike a sail, furl, brandish, fill with wind, etc.  Are we stabbing these guys and waving them about on a spear?  Maybe.  The Greek is a strange verb built off of the noun for horn, and so there the sense is probably goring like a bull or something.  Google around and you’ll see some very old commentary about spiritual senses here which is neat–perfect if you want to think like a medieval!–but not so great for explaining this.  Christ the unicorn, goring our enemies?  Absolutely!

v. 10 egredieris…in virtutibus nostris In hindsight this is pretty clear but it took a moment to realize the military allusion here.  Of course for the Israelites this is not merely figurative: they took the ark of the covenant with them into battle.  Only do that when God tells you to, btw, otherwise the bad guys take it and humiliate you.

v. 11 diripiebant Hoo boy, this verb is not joking around.  Let’s play the prepositional prefix game again: start with rapio, meaning to seize or plunder (it’s where we get the word rape).  Now add the sense of splitting something in half, as if by seizing it you destroyed it or tore it in pieces.  In that sense it’s a great allusion to Saul tearing Samuel’s robe and thereby dividing Israel.  I couldn’t find an English word that I liked here.

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