Saturday, November 29, 2008

Psalm 55

The enemy shouteth, The godless come fast!
Iniquity, hatred, up on me they cast!
The wicked oppress me, Ah where shall I fly?
Perplexed and bewildered, O God, hear my cry!
O for the wings, for the wings of a dove!
Far away, far away would I rove!
In the wilderness build me a nest,
and remain there forever at rest.

It is difficult for me to divorce this psalm from Mendelssohn's text and rhythms.

Note the uneven use of singular and plural third person. And the emphasis on first person singular and final shift to second person singular - advice.

For the leader
on strings
an insight
Of David

Give ear O God to my prayer
and do not hide yourself from my supplication
Listen to me and answer me
I am restless in my musing and I mutter

from the voice of an enemy in my face
the oppression of a wicked one
for they slip iniquity in front of me
and in anger they oppose me
my heart is in turmoil within me
and the terrors of death fall upon me
fear and trembling come upon me
and shudderings cover me

and I said you will give me wings like a dove
and I will fly away and settle down
behold I will be far off to retreat
and stay in the wilderness
I will hasten my escape
from a storming wind and tempest

Swallow up O Lord
divide their tongue
for I have seen violence and dispute in the city
Day and night they encircle the walls with it
and trouble and mischief are within it
calamities are within it
oppression and deceit are not removed from her plazas

for it is not hostility reproaching me and so bearable
nor someone hating me extolling himself against me and so avoidable
but you
my equal
my known friend
together we had pleasant intimacy
in the house of God we walked in company

let death lure them
let them descend alive to the grave
for the evils among them in their dwellings

As for me, I will call on God and יְהוָה will deliver me
Evening and morning and middays
I will muse and call out and he will hear my voice
he has ransomed my life in peace
from the battle against me
for many are with me

God will hear and will answer them
and the one sitting of old
that there is no relief for them
for they do not fear God

he set his hands against his peace
he has broken his pledge
smoother than clotted cream his mouth
but war in his heart
his words softer than oil
but they were swords unsheathed
Throw your gift to יְהוָה and he will measure you
he will never let the righteous be moved
But you O God will bring them to the well of destruction
humans of blood and deceit will not reach half their days
but as for me, I will trust in you

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