Psalm 137

I’ve posted to the Serpent
Publications Blog
what I’ve been doing about that site.

One of the items was to add the rest of the verses Clement
Marot wrote for Psalm 137.

It was actually Bonnie who always complained about the idea of
singing the rest of the psalm because she didn’t want to sing
about bashing the babies against the stones in the street. I
thought about her when we were singing the Estocart
setting
last night, and was glad she wouldn’t complain if I
set the other verses, but then when I read them, I was sad because
she would have enjoyed singing them.

Here they are:

Estans assis aux rives aquatiques
De Babylon, plorions melancholiques,
Nous souvenant du païs de Syon:
Et au milieu de l’habitation,
Où de regret tant de pleurs espandismes,
Aux saules vers nos harpes nous pendismes

Lors, ceulx qui là captifs nous emmenerent,
de les sonner fort nous importunerent,
Et de Syon les chansons reciter:
Las, dismes nous, qui pourroit inciter
Nos tristes cueurs à chanter la louange,
De nostre Dieu, en une Terre estrange?

Or toutefoys, puisse oublier ma dextre
L’art de harper, avant qu’on te voye estre
Ierusalem, hors de mon souvenir:
Ma langue puisse à mon palais tenir
Si je t’oublie, et si jamais ay joye,
Tant que premier ta delivrance j’oye.

Which might mean something like:

While we sat by the shore of the River of Babylon, we cried
sadly, we remembered the land of Zion: And in the middle of our
new living quarters where our sobs flowed forth, we hung our
harps on the green willow trees.

Then, those who had led us into captivity pressed us to sing
the songs of Zion: Alas, we said, How can we make our sad hearts
sing the praises of our God in a strange land?

Now and forever, may my right hand forget the art of a
harper, before I see you, Jerusalem, erased from my memory: May my
tongue stick to my palate if I forget you, and if ever I have
joy before your deliverance.

Apparently it’s a long tradition of leaving out the rest in
public readings and performances. In the New International
Version, the part Marot didn’t translate goes:

Remember, O LORD, what the Edomites did
on the day Jerusalem fell.
“Tear it down,” they cried,
“tear it down to its foundations!”

O Daughter of Babylon, doomed to destruction,
happy is he who repays you
for what you have done to us-

he who seizes your infants
and dashes them against the rocks.

I think it’s important to remember that it isn’t just songs
about not singing songs that war produces, but people who actually
want to kill babies.

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2 thoughts on “Psalm 137”

  1. Pingback: Classes have met

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