Translating Psalms (68)

Really wishing I had looked ahead to see this one waiting for me after the long Psalm 67… My heart hasn’t really been in these as much this year given my other commits, but this is a great Lenten psalm with excellent Passion connections.  Just look at v. 22!  I can at least soldier on for gems like these!

“Salvum me fac, Deus” (Psalm 68)

[1] In finem, pro iis qui commutabuntur. David.

Unto the end, for them who will be all-changed.  To David.

[2] Salvum me fac, Deus, quoniam intraverunt aquae usque ad animam meam.

Make me safe, O God, for they have entered in, waters, even unto my soul.

[3] Infixus sum in limo profundi et non est substantia. Veni in altitudinem maris; et tempestas demersit me.

Fastened am I in the mire of the deep and there is no substance.  I have come into the depth of the sea and the tempest has sunk me.

[4] Laboravi clamans, raucae factae sunt fauces meae; defecerunt oculi mei, dum spero in Deum meum.

I have labored, crying.  Hoarse are made my jaws.  They have failed, my eyes, while I hope in my God.

[5] Multiplicati sunt super capillos capitis mei qui oderunt me gratis. Confortati sunt qui persecuti sunt me inimici mei injuste; quae non rapui, tunc exsolvebam.

They are multiplied above the hairs of my head, they who hated me freely.  They have been comforted who have persecuted me, my enemies, unjustly.  What I have not taken, then I will let loose.

[6] Deus, tu scis insipientiam meam; et delicta mea a te non sunt abscondita.

God, You Yourself know my folly and my crimes from You are not hidden.

[7] Non erubescant in me qui exspectant te, Domine, Domine virtutum; non confundantur super me qui quaerunt te, Deus Israel.

Let them not be ashamed in me who look out for You, O Lord, Lord of powers; let them not be confounded over me who seek You, God of Israel.

[8] Quoniam propter te sustinui opprobrium; operuit confusio faciem meam.

For on account of You have I sustained disgrace; it has covered over, has confusion, my face.

[9] Extraneus factus sum fratribus meis, et peregrinus filiis matris meae.

Foreign am I made to my brothers, and pilgrim to the sons of my mother.

[10] Quoniam zelus domus tuae comedit me, et opprobria exprobrantium tibi ceciderunt super me.

For zeal of Your house has consumed me and the disgraces of those disgracing You has fallen over me.

[11] Et operui in jejunio animam meam, et factum est in opprobrium mihi.

And I have covered in fasting my soul and it is made unto disgrace for me.

[12] Et posui vestimentum meum cilicium; et factus sum illis in parabolam.

And I have placed my garment a hair coat and I am made for them into a parable.

[13] Adversum me loquebantur qui sedebant in porta, et in me psallebant qui bibebant vinum.

Against me they were speaking who were seated in the gate and on me they were singing who were drinking wine.

[14] Ego vero orationem meam ad te, Domine : tempus beneplaciti, Deus, in multitudine misericordiae tuae; exaudi me in veritate salutis tuae.

But I–my prayer unto You, O Lord! a time of good pleasure, God, in the multitude of Your mercy.  Listen for me in the truth of Your salvation.

[15] Eripe me de luto, ut non infigar; libera me ab iis qui oderunt me, et de profundis aquarum.

Rescue me from the mud that I not be stuck; free me from those who hated me and out of the deeps of the waters.

[16] Non me demergat tempestas aquae, neque absorbeat me profundum, neque urgeat super me puteus os suum.

Let it not sink me, the tempest of water, nor let it swallow me, the deep, nor let it press over me, the pit, its mouth.

[17] Exaudi me, Domine, quoniam benigna est misericordia tua; secundum multitudinem miserationum tuarum respice in me.

Listen for me, O Lord, for well-working is Your mercy; according to the multitude of Your mercies look back on me.

[18] Et ne avertas faciem tuam a puero tuo; quoniam tribulor, velociter exaudi me.

And may You not turn Your face from Your child; for I am in trial, swiftly listen for me.

[19] Intende animae meae, et libera eam; propter inimicos meos eripe me.

Hasten to my soul and free it; on account of my enemies rescue me.

[20] Tu scis improperium meum, et confusionem meam, et reverentiam meam;

You Yourself know my taunts and my confusion and my fear;

[21] in conspectu tuo sunt omnes qui tribulant me. Improperium exspectavit cor meum et miseriam; et sustinui qui simul contristaretur, et non fuit; et qui consolaretur, et non inveni.

in Your sight are all who trouble me.  A taunt has it looked for, has my heart, and a misery; and I have awaited one who would together be saddened and he was not; and one who would console, and I have not found.

[22] Et dederunt in escam meam fel, et in siti mea potaverunt me aceto.

And they gave unto my food a bile, and in my thirst they have watered me vinegar.

[23] Fiat mensa eorum coram ipsis in laqueum, et in retributiones, et in scandalum.

Let be their table before them as a snare and as retributions and as scandal.

[24] Obscurentur oculi eorum, ne videant; et dorsum eorum semper incurva.

Let them be obscured, their eyes, lest they see, and their back ever bowed.

[25] Effunde super eos iram tuam; et furor irae tuae comprehendat eos.

Pour out over them Your anger; and the wrath of Your anger, let it seize them.

[26] Fiat habitatio eorum deserta; et in tabernaculis eorum non sit qui inhabitet.

Let be their dwelling a desert and in their tents let him not be who would dwell.

[27] Quoniam quem tu percussisti persecuti sunt, et super dolorem vulnerum meorum addiderunt.

For whom You Yourself have struck they have pursued and above the sorrow of my wounds they have added.

[28] Appone iniquitatem super iniquitatem eorum et non intrent in justitiam tuam.

Place iniquity upon their iniquity and let them not enter into Your justice

[29] Deleantur de libro viventium, et cum justis non scribantur.

Let them be erased from the book of the living and with the just let them not be written.

[30] Ego sum pauper et dolens; salus tua, Deus, suscepit me.

I, I am poor and grieved; You salvation, O God, upholds me.

[31] Laudabo nomen Dei cum cantico; et magnificabo eum in laude;

I will praise the name of God when I sing and I will make Him great in praise;

[32] et placebit Deo super vitulum novellum, cornua producentem et ungulas.

and it will be pleasing to God above the young calf producing horns and hooves

[33] Videant pauperes, et laetentur; quaerite Deum, et vivet anima vestra,

Let them see, the poor, and be glad; seek God and it will live, your soul,

[34] quoniam exaudivit pauperes Dominus, et vinctos suos non despexit.

for He has heard the poor, has the Lord, and His enchained He has not despised.

[35] Laudent illum caeli et terra; mare, et omnia reptilia in eis.

Let them praise Him, the heavens and the earth, the sea and all reptiles in them.

[36] Quoniam Deus salvam faciet Sion, et aedificabuntur civitates Juda, et inhabitabunt ibi, et haereditate acquirent eam.

For God will make safe Zion and they will be build, the cities of Judah, and they will dwell there and by inheritance will they acquire her.

[37] Et semen servorum ejus possidebit eam; et qui diligunt nomen ejus habitabunt in ea.

And the seed of His servants will possess her and who love His name will dwell in her.


v. 14 orationem meam Here’s a fun question: what the heck is the syntax of this accusative phrase?  Again I’m trying not to force solutions on the words, trying to keep things open-ended as best I can.  There’s no clear verb  here, unless you borrow exaudi from much later in the line.  Then the verb is doing double duty in a pretty neat way that I quite like.  The other option is that it’s something like an accusative exclamation, a Greek knock-off.  I’ve gone for the latter as more consistent with my approach to these psalms but arguably I should go with the former.

v. 16 The trick here is that urgeat is transitive and can take a direct object.  That doesn’t feel right, given the previous verbs and the natural ways to translate the urgeat.  It’s also a problem with the noun I think.  The well or well-shaft “urging” its mouth over me is…well, weird.

v. 20 reverentiam The English reverence is not always a false friend but here it has to be given the previous phrases.  Douay-Rheims goes for “shame,” which I think is misguided.  I’ve just gone into the root of the word, vereor, to fear.

v. 21 sustinui All the synonyms I could think of here just come from different Latin words, which I dislike using.  Literally the word means to under-hold, holding up with one’s hands.  Maybe “withstood” works?  A modern-sounding “I have held up” in the sense of waiting almost swayed me but…blech.

v. 35 caeli A Latin monster hiding in plain sight: liturgically, “pleni sunt caeli et terra gloria tua Hosanna in excelsis…”  Well, uh, that ain’t good Latin folks.  The neuter noun is caelum and its proper plural is caela, not caeli.  So caeli “has” to be genitive.  Except…not.  There’s also a masculine variant, which is I think probably just a defective form of the neuter noun, so caeli can also be nominative plural.  Illum makes the choice easier here, although a peculiar “praise that man of heaven” is not grammatically impossible.  It does feel a bit strange to use illum for God–I am not sure I’ve seen a psalm do that before (definitely not this Lent).

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