Sunday, 5 February 2012

Psalm Translations: I dwell laid up in Safety's nest

This is a translation of Psalm 4, one of the verse translations of the psalms done by Sir Philip Sidney and his sister Mary, Countess of Pembroke. I posted their translation of Psalm 27 a little while ago, and you can read more of them here.

They have some odd stylistic features - notice for instance how much repetition there is here, so that we get all the following twice within single lines: hear me, God, men, lies/lie, your selves, sacrifice, just, peace/peaceful, it is thou... The effect is a tiny bit convoluted, in that nice sixteenth-century way, but I like the last verse very much.

1. Hear me, O, hear me when I call,
O God, God of my equity!
Thou setd'st me free when I was thrall,
Have mercy therefore still on me,
And hearken how I pray to Thee.

2. O men, whose fathers were but men,
Till when will ye My honour high
Stain with your blasphemies; till when
Such pleasure take in vanity,
And only hunt where lies do lie?

3. Yet know this too that God did take,
When He chose me, a godly one;
Such one, I say, that when I make
My crying plaints to Him alone,
He will give good ear to my moan.

4. O, tremble then with awful will,
Sin from all rule in you depose,
Talk with your heart and yet be still;
And when your chamber you do close
Your selves, yet to your selves disclose.

5. The sacrifices sacrify
Of just desires, on justice stayed;
Trust in the Lord that cannot lie.
Indeed full many folk have said,
From whence shall come to us such aid?

6. But, Lord, lift thou upon our sight
The shining clearness of Thy face,
Where I have found more heart's delight
Than they whose store in harvest space
Of grain and wine fills storing-place.

7. So I in peace and peaceful bliss
Will lay me down and take my rest;
For it is Thou, Lord, Thou it is,
By power of whose own only breast
I dwell, laid up in Safety's nest.

This is one of the psalms appointed for Compline, and therefore most familiar to me in this form, more understated but even more beautiful:

1. Hear me when I call, O God of my righteousness :
thou hast set me at liberty when I was in trouble;
have mercy upon me, and hearken unto my prayer.

2. O ye sons of men, how long will ye blaspheme mine honour :
and have such pleasure in vanity, and seek after leasing?

3. Know this also, that the Lord hath chosen to himself the man that is godly :
when I call upon the Lord, he will hear me.

4. Stand in awe, and sin not :
commune with your own heart, and in your chamber, and be still.

5. Offer the sacrifice of righteousness :
and put your trust in the Lord.

6. There be many that say :
Who will shew us any good?

7. Lord, lift thou up :
the light of thy countenance upon us.

8. Thou hast put gladness in my heart :
since the time that their corn, and wine, and oil increased.

9. I will lay me down in peace, and take my rest :
for it is thou, Lord, only, that makest me dwell in safety.

No comments: