Psalm 50

Asaf’s Song

Yahweh, God over gods spoke
Summoning the world
from farthest east to utter west.

From Zion, his perfect beauty
Blazes out everywhere.

Our God is coming, and will not be silenced
Devouring fire leads,
Powerful wind surrounds.

He calls to the skies above and the ground below
to judge his people.

Gather to me
my faithful friends,
my covenant-bound,
my full worshipers.

They will proclaim my justice to the skies,
that God is the one who judges.

Listen to me, realms above, and I will speak.
Attend, Israel, and I will give you my testimony.
I am the God over all gods.

It’s not for your sacrifices that I will find you right,
Nor your continual burnt offerings.

I won’t take a bull from your house,
Nor sheep or goat from your fold.

Each animal living in the forest is mine,
Flocks and herds on unnumbered hills.

I know each and every bird in the wild,
Even the crickets are in my care.

If I get hungry, I won’t tell you,
Because everything in the universe is mine!

Do you think I eat bulls?
Or drink goat’s blood?

Offer God your thanks,
Keep your word for God Most High!

Then call on me when you’re in trouble,
I’ll save you and you’ll honor me.

But if you’re wicked, here’s my message:
Why are you talking about my commands?
Why do you even mention my covenant?

You hate to be corrected,
You discard my words like garbage.
To see a thief is to love him.
Adulterers are your best friends.

Your mouth is evil’s publicist,
Lying is your tongue’s vocation.
Your brother is a favored target,
and your sister is not exempt.

You did these things and kept silent.
You thought I was like you.
But I’ll rebuke you and confront you face-to-face!

Understand this, you who forget God,
Lest He destroy you and there is none to save.

The one who honors me offers thanks,
Following my path.
I will show him my salvation.

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Psalm 121: A Translation and Poetic Response

OK, this is playing around. The first is a translation with some freedom, but with an effort to convey just a little bit of the rhythm of the Hebrew. It needs some more work. The second is just me having some fun with rhyme and meter, a practice I can always use.

I look up to the mountains,
Where can I find help?
My help comes from Yahweh,
The maker of heaven and earth.

He won’t let your foot slip.
Your guardian won’t sleep.

Not sleeping,
Not slumbering,
Israel’s keeper.

Yahweh is your guardian.
Yahweh is your shelter.
Right there with you.

By day the sun does no harm,
Nor the moon at night.
Yahweh keeps you from all injury.
He preserves your life.

Yahweh watches when you go out or come in,
Today, and every day hereafter.

And now the response:I gaze as mountains bar my way,
With pinnacle and rock and peak.
I ask myself whose help I seek.
Whence guidance comes I can obey.

To God I look when fears assail,
From right or left, by day or night.
When arrows fly from left or right,
My shield’s my Lord he will prevail.

No matter when I fear not sleep,
My Lord protects and guards my life.
Mid toil and trial, stroke or strife,
He stays awake, my guard to keep.

If battle call the trump should sound,
He watches every step I take.
And if a misstep I should make,
He puts my foot on solid ground.

He is my guard, he’s ever near,
So never danger must I fear.

Psalm 103 as Blank Verse

OK, here’s another try at transforming a Psalm, in this case, by putting it into blank verse. There are some wonderful parallelisms in Psalm 103, but a great deal of that impact is lost on English readers. Here I try to present the message in blank verse, which provides some meter. I’m still sticking fairly close to the thought structure of the Psalm as it is. As I have time I may play around some more and try to create additional translations using other poetic forms.

May all I am from deep within speak blessings of my God!
Oh let me not forget the things my God has given to me

He it is forgives my sins.
He it is who heals my ills.
He it is my life redeems.
He it is his grace pours out.
He my life with good things fills.
He’s the one renews my strength.

My God does right and justice gives for all who are oppressed.
He showed his servant Moses ways and deeds he knew were right.
My God is kind, he will abide, his anger slow to show.
His accusations soon will end, his favor then we’ll see.

Our sins are great, but mercy’s more, our guilt receives his grace.
As heaven’s far above the earth, so grace exeeds our fall.
As far as east is from the west, so far transgressions sent.
As parent cares for wayward child, so cares our God for us.

Because he knows just who we are; recalls that we are dust.
We’re like the grass that fades and dies, like flower that blooms then fails.
A wind may blow and then it’s gone, it’s roots cannot be found.
But my God’s grace forever stands, his justice never fails.
To those who keep his covenant, to those who do his word.

Let angels, every power who does his word come bless my God.
Let all the host who serve and do his will come bless my God.
May all that he has done in every place he rules come bless my God.
May all I am from deep within speak blessings of my God!

Susanna: A Transformation

For a literal translation of Daniel 13, “Susanna” see USCCB – NAB – Daniel 13. This is not a translation or even a paraphrase. One might even call it a “transformation.” What I am attempting to do is to rewrite this short story into a modern form. I allow myself to alter the order of the telling, what is told and what is ignored, but not to alter the facts of the story as recorded. I also allow myself to add some details and to exchange telling the story for created conversations. I chose names for the unnamed players at random from Chronicles. For this story I assume that the Daniel of the story is the same as the main character in the book of Daniel, though not all interpreters would agree. You can judge the results.

The elders gather outside what would have been the city gates, if only they had been back in Judah, and this had been a city with gates. As it was, it was a quite prosperous little community for exiles from Judah living in Babylon. Those who lived here were the elders, people of importance in the community, and many who had good jobs working for Babylonians and thus had money to live relatively good lives in exile.

Daniel stood to the side of the group of elders, watching with interest. His position in the court of Babylon gave him entry to assemblies such as this, but he was still too young to be invited to participate. He felt his chest tighten, and anguish gripped him as he heard the elders call for Susanna. Susanna was the wife of the well-known businessman, the most prosperous member of the community, Joakim. Nothing had ever been even whipered against the character of Joakim and his wife. Behind her followed her father Hilkiah and his wife, along with other members of her family, all weeping.

Continue reading “Susanna: A Transformation”

Psalm 46 as an Italian Sonnet

This is the result of my having fun with my morning devotions and then mixing it with thinking about translation theory. Anyone up to produce Psalm 46 in another poetic form? I’m particularly interested in playing with translating into fixed forms.

I’m safe with God my strength, my shield, my friend.
In danger he is sure and will be there.
When broken world and shattered mount I dare,
No fear I know, on God I will depend.

All water’s safe where God his help can lend.
His city glows with joy as streams there fare.
The center of his city’s in his care.
At dawn he comes, he shouts, he will defend.

My God is here with troops, his joy, his strength.
Let’s look and see what works he’s going to show.
He stops a war, he goes and weapons breaks.

Be quiet, soul, the world watch, breadth and length
See how all know he’s great wher’ere winds blow.
He rules, he saves, he hears, all peace he makes.

Copyright © 2006, Henry E. Neufeld