Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Oh how different a psalm can seem to its music

So - what do you think of Psalm 12? How does the music carry it? Why is it where it is in the sequence of the Psalter?

Psalms 9 and 10 have, somewhat like recalcitrant childen, chanted the splendor of Psalm 8. Psalm 11 follows with the fundamentals overthrown but The Lord in his Holy Temple, in the heavens, his throne. Then Psalm 12 gives us the children of humanity with their vileness exalted on every side - not to mention Kiev, or Syria, or Central Africa, or the worship of Mammon at the expense of the poor. From this havoc of the poor and from the groaning of the needy, the Lord arises. Do we dare pray for such?

Here's my English to the Hebrew cantillation somewhat according the deciphering key of Haik-Vantoura but with the ornaments and steps taken from the Westminster Leningrad codex and manually compared to Aleppo (where I could read it - it is quite clear for Psalm 12).

The Hebrew: - pdf here untouched from the computer generation of the music. English pdf here. And below a bit of a comparison.

In this psalm, my English and the Hebrew were very far apart in syllable count. Sometimes Hebrew (syllables 186 words 79) was longer, sometimes English (count 'em if you like - the bars are all irregular). If you sing these - pay no attention to the note 'values'. There is no implied fixed rhythm in this psalm in either language.