Sunday, June 9, 2013

A famous verse - one for each psalm

While browsing Susan Gillingham's book on the Psalms through the Centuries for the Psalms of Yared (of the Ethiopian tradition), another strategy for memorization came to me - name a favorite verse for each psalm. I am quite sure that my old memory, fading as it does, does not recall a single verse from every psalm.

I could just do it - but what if we made it a game?  Is anyone for playing?  If so please leave a comment - the rule is one verse only from any one psalm.  Don't do all 150 - that's work.  But for instance - which verse of the psalms just appears in your mind? Do that one.

I will begin - just one verse from one psalm  - O dear - that is difficult - but the verses in my mind right now are from the penitential Psalm 51. Have mercy upon me, O Lord God, after thy great goodness, according to the multitude of thy mercies do away mine offences.

That's it - that's all the game requires - will y'all help?

I wonder which translation that is?  Maybe I am remembering it from Gregorio Allegri's Miserere in an English version. Perhaps too I am recalling the Byrd setting. It was in fact, Coverdale except it is in the Elohist Psalter and is O God not O Lord (as I had first written).
Hmmm let's see
Latin (Psalm 50, v3)
Miserere mei, Deus, 
secundum magnam misericordiam tuam.
et secundum multitudinem miserationum tuarum,
dele iniquitatem meam.
JB (1962)Have mercy on me, O God, in your goodness,
In your great tenderness, wipe away my faults.
King James (verse is 1)Have mercy upon me, O God, according to thy lovingkindness:
according unto the multitude of thy tender mercies blot out my transgressions.
Hebrew (corrected to Letteris edition) Verse is 3חָנֵּ֣נִי אֱלֹהִ֣ים כְּחַסְדֶּ֑ךָ
כְּרֹ֥ב רַֽ֝חֲמֶ֗יךָ מְחֵ֣ה פְשָׁעָֽי
My readingBe gracious to me, O God
according to your loving-kindness
In the multitude of your compassions
blot out my transgression
Note there is a missing silluq under the word רַֽ֝חֲמֶ֗יךָ in online Hebrew copies. This significantly fails in the music.  The ornament on the second note of the scale requires resolution to the tonic rather than the second.

I have gone farther than the game requires - but I was curious. You will notice some significant differences in the glosses chosen. We are so influenced by the Latin history. The Hebrew appeals to covenant mercy in the third word. I have not used the sound 'mercy' for חָנֵּ֣נִי but rather gracious, or supplicate. Similarly I have avoided the sound 'mercy' with respect to רַֽ֝חֲמֶ֗יךָ a word suggestive of the womb. Tenderness is good.  I don't much like 'goodness' though in JB or Coverdale.