Psalm 50

In Psalter Project on July 6, 2009 at 3:14 am

Here is my revision of Psalm 50 according to the criteria given here.

Psalm 50

Have mercy upon me, O God, according to thy great mercy;

and according to the multitude of thy tender mercies blot out my transgression.

Wash me thoroughly from mine iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin.

For I acknowledge mine iniquity, and my sin is ever before me.

Against thee only have I sinned and done this evil in thy sight,

that thou mightest be justified in thy sayings, and prevail when thou dost judge.

For behold, I was conceived in iniquities, and in sins did my mother get me.

But behold, thou lovest truth; the hidden and secret things of thy wisdom hast thou made manifest unto me.

Thou shalt sprinkle me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; thou shalt wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.

Thou shalt make me to hear of joy and gladness, that the bones which thou hast humbled may rejoice.

Turn thy face away from my sins, and blot out all mine iniquities.

Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me.

Cast me not away from thy presence, and take not thy holy spirit from me.

Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation, and with thy governing spirit establish me.

Then shall I teach transgressors thy ways, and the ungodly shall be converted unto thee.

Deliver me from blood-guiltiness, O God, thou God of my salvation; my tongue shall sing of thy righteousness.

O Lord, thou shalt open my lips, and my mouth shall show forth thy praise.

For if thou hadst desired sacrifice, I had given it: but thou delightest not in burnt-offerings.

A sacrifice unto God is a troubled spirit; a heart that is troubled and humbled God will not despise.

Do good, O Lord, in thy good pleasure unto Zion, and let the walls of Jerusalem be built.

Then shalt thou be pleased with a sacrifice of righteousness, with oblation and whole-burnt offerings.

Then shall they offer bullocks upon thine altar.

  1. For the longest time I thought this Psalm was saying that God was being judged. Then I realized it said that God was blameless when he judges me. I realized it because of a better translation. And “my mother get me” is very archaic. I don’t even know what that means apart from already being familiar with this passage. Isn’t there a way to retain the hieratic language that I love so much as well as the format and flow of the KJV and the Coverdale Psalter while making it understandable. Severely archaic translations like this, perhaps, strengthen the arguments for modern language. A few years ago a new and fully updated KJV Bible came out, edited by David Norton to incorperate the best scholarly corrections from original manuscripts and fully consistant spelling. It doesn’t update or change words like the NKJV, but it is more readable. You should check it out.

    Penguin Classics: The New Cambridge Paragraph Bible: Ed David Norton.

    Also, the number of people producing new translations: I have mixed feelings about it. Competition will produce the best product. But there is already a LXX Psalter based on the KJV made in England. And someone here mentioned the KJV Coverdale Psalter. I always enjoy a new Psalter but I am wondering if we can combine our efforts and make a definitive hieratic text in the tradition of the KJV and Coverdale?

    • Thank you for your comment. My responses:
      1. Your comment does not express whether you need justification for my translation, “and prevail when thou dost judge.” Respond, if so.
      2. I agree on your assessment of “my mother get me.” This has been called to my attention by others, as well. I am still considering how best to render the sentiment, which both in Hebrew (see Norton’s Cambridge KJV–which I use and like–at this spot, where he gives the Hebr “warm me”) and in Greek (ekissese me) refers to the hot passion of orgasm in sexual union which accompanies conception. The passage refers to the corrupt nature of passion-borne conception (see the holy Fathers, esp. Maximos the Confessor). So, got a good alternative?
      3. The Cambridge KJV is still the KJV. I do not see how that is an answer to your concern about archaisms.

  2. I understand the problem of translation. The LXX is not Greek Greek, but Hebraic Greek. All language is idiomatic employing metaphors from one area of life to another. Even when we do not realize it, a common English word is derived from a complex history of metaphors. It is the translators cross to bear to struggle between maintaining the original (in this case Hebrew and Greek) idioms or to translate the idioms. I am not complaining. I should have kept my mouth shut. I liked it because it sounds almost identical to the one I have memorized. These are the comments of a reader, not a translator.

    As for the “dost judge” I think other translations say “blameless when thou are judged.” Yours is certainly an improvment. I understand that God is doing the judging because this is equivilent to saying “that You might be justified in Your sayings, and prevail when You (do) judge.” I am wondering what the “dost” does here. Does it indicate a tense?

    I use the St Dunstan’s Plainsong Psalter at home, and at parish, like you said, it is homegrown as I cannot identify the translation. At first I thought the Psalter according to the Seventy was amazing, but it has worn on me and I use it only for comparison now.

    And thanks for the Typikon translations!

    • “Dost” is a performative verb, serving only to keep a nice rhythm of speech and to avoid the cumbersome, “judgest.”
      thank you for your good words!

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