Translating Psalms (44)

Here’s a lovely one with a heavy Messianic theme early that makes the pronouns unclear throughout.  I will probably run a four senses interpretation of this psalm for my side bar when I have a free day/weekend; mystical sense here is strong.  The shift from the king to the queen brings in both Mary and Church.  A psalm to study and contemplate, for sure.

“Eructavit cor meum” (Psalm 44)

[1] In finem, pro iis qui commutabuntur. Filiis Core, ad intellectum. Canticum pro dilecto.

Unto the end, for those who will be exchanged.  To the sons of Korah, unto understanding.  A canticle for the beloved.

[2] Eructavit cor meum verbum bonum; dico ego opera mea regi. Lingua mea calamus scribae velociter scribentis.

It has coughed up, has my heart, a good word; I speak, I, my words to the king.  My tongue a reed of a scribe swiftly writing.

[3] Speciosus forma prae filiis hominum, diffusa est gratia in labiis tuis; propterea benedixit te Deus in aeternum.

Shapely the form before the sons of men, diffused is grace in your lips; because He has blessed you, has the Lord, into the eternal.

[4] Accingere gladio tuo super femur tuum, potentissime.

Gird-to with your sword over your thigh, most mighty one.

[5] Specie tua et pulchritudine tua intende, prospere procede, et regna, propter veritatem, et mansuetudinem, et justitiam; et deducet te mirabiliter dextera tua.

In your appearance and your beauty make haste; prosperously go forth and rule on account of truth and gentleness and justice; and He will lead you marvelously by your right hand.

[6] Sagittae tuae acutae, populi sub te cadent, in corda inimicorum regis.

Your arrows sharp–peoples under you will fall–in the hearts of the enemies of the king.

[7] Sedes tua, Deus, in saeculum saeculi; virga directionis virga regni tui.

Your seat, O God, into the age of age; the rod of arighting, the rod of Your rule.

[8] Dilexisti justitiam, et odisti iniquitatem; propterea unxit te Deus, Deus tuus, oleo laetitiae, prae consortibus tuis.

You have loved justice and have hated injustice; for He has anointed you, has God, Your God, with the oil of gladness before your comrades.

[9] Myrrha, et gutta, et casia a vestimentis tuis, a domibus eburneis; ex quibus delectaverunt te

Myrrh and gutta and casia from your garments, from dwellings ivory; out of which they have loved you,

[10] filiae regum in honore tuo. Astitit regina a dextris tuis in vestitu deaurato, circumdata varietate.

the daughters of the king in your honor.  She has stood off, the queen, at your right hand in vestiture gilded, surrounded with variety.

[11] Audi, filia, et vide, et inclina aurem tuam; et obliviscere populum tuum, et domum patris tui.

Hear, daughter, and see, and incline your ear, and forget your people and the house of your father.

[12] Et concupiscet rex decorem tuum, quoniam ipse est Dominus Deus tuus, et adorabunt eum.

And he will all-desire, will the king, your charm, for He is the Lord Your God and they will adore Him.

[13] Et filiae Tyri in muneribus vultum tuum deprecabuntur; omnes divites plebis.

And daughters of Tyre in rewards will beseech your face; all the wealthy of the people.

[14] Omnis gloria ejus filiae regis ab intus, in fimbriis aureis,

Every glory of that daughter of the king from within, in borders golden, 

[15] circumamicta varietatibus. Adducentur regi virgines post eam, proximae ejus afferentur tibi.

clothed round with variety.  They will be led to the king, the virgins after her, her neighbors brought to You.

[16] Afferentur in laetitia et exsultatione; adducentur in templum regis.

They will be brought in joy and exultation; they will be led into the temple of the king.

[17] Pro patribus tuis nati sunt tibi filii; constitues eos principes super omnem terram.

For your fathers they are born to you, are sons; you will establish them princes over all the earth.

[18] Memores erunt nominis tui in omni generatione et generationem : propterea populi confitebuntur tibi in aeternum, et in saeculum saeculi.

The will be remindful of your name in every generation and into generation, for the peoples will confess to you into the eternal and into the age of age.


v. 2 eructavit I recently made a joke about ruckus with an earlier word; here’s the actual Latin word whence ruckus comes.  Think of a violent cough, like hacking or whatever.  Quite a disgusting way to start the psalm.

v. 5 et deducet te mirabiliter dextera tua. Choice time!  Pronoun ambiguity here allows for some translation and sense options.  Dextera tua could be the delayed subject of deducet, meaning “your right hand will lead you.”  Probably the sense then is that the just ruler points with his right hand and goes where he points.  There’s still a choice there, though: is the subject an ambiguous Messiah (“your”) or God Himself (“Your”)?  On the other hand, dextera tua could be ablative and then the subject of deducet is unexpressed–some he or He.  If the subject of the previous lines is the Davidic Messiah, the subject of deducet would have to be He (God, else the Messiah is led by one of us).  On the other hand if the previous lines have a metaphorical subject of any believer being given victory, the subject here could be an ambiguous Messianic “he” or again “He” (God).  What I think must matter most here is that the Latin supports both and everyone who ever read this line for over a thousand years took it to mean both.  You want to play with the senses of Scripture, you have to be ready for everything to mean more than one thing.

v. 9 myrrha, gutta, casia I cheated and did not translate here.  These are costly aromatics, with literal translations of gum resin, a drop of something, and cinnamon.  Of course myrrh is familiar to those who know Christ’s infancy narrative, but that’s no mere accidental connection!  The Gospel writer is tapping into this very psalm.  Gutta sometimes means a drop of myrrh, sometimes milk, but it can really be anything including raindrops that keep falling on my head.  It’s primarily because there’s no easy substitute here that I left the three untranslated.  Myrrh is enough to give the sense of the list!

v. 12 Impossible choice time: in this line the king becomes God Himself, and I have to choose where/when/how to capitalize the pronouns to show the shift.  The unclear separation between earthly Davidic king and God is a feature, not a bug.  For the original composition it is a modus laudandi; for the Church it is a perfect Father/Son typology.

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