James (Jim) Vasquez attends the same church my wife and I do. I have enjoyed reading and hearing scripture that he has put to poetry. He has several books of translated scripture which have been published:
A few months ago my wife and I attended a reading Jim gave at Auntie’s, an independent bookseller in Spokane, Washington. Jim conducted the reading much as a poetry class, explaining rhyme and rhythm patterns in his poetry.
Jim teaches well. Teaching and teaching about teaching is his professional background. Jim has an MDiv degree from Fuller Theological Seminary, and a PhD in Educational Psychology and Psycholinguistics from UCLA. He served on the faculty of the University of Washington for 27 years. He was in the College of Education and taught such courses as: Learning Variables of Minority Students, Language Acquisition, and Seminars in Bilingual Education.
Jim began writing classic poetry shortly before he retired, then switched (almost) exclusively to Bible-based poetry because he thought that was the ministry that would most honor our Lord, given whatever gifts he had.
Jim, like Brenda Boerger in previous BBB posts, has translated the entire book of Psalms to English poetry. I will feature Psalm 26 in this post and Psalm 27 in the next post. I am posting on poetic translation to give ideas on how biblical poetry can be translated to English so that English readers can tell that it is poetry.
Jim introduces his rendering of Psalm 26 with this information about the poetic scheme he uses:
Psalm 26 is in two meters, lines 2 and 3 are in iambic meter while 1 and 4 are in trochaic meter, which is accented on the first syllable and then on every other syllable. Lines 2 and 3 have 8 syllables each while 1 and 4 have 7, which is common in trochaic meter.
The rhyme scheme is a-b-c-b, with lines 2 and 4 rhyming. This is the most common rhyme scheme in the English language, though certainly not the only one.
Vindicate my soul, O Lord,
A blameless life I’ve led.
I waver not in trusting you,
Nor vain pathways tread.
Test me, Lord, and try me now,
Examine mind and heart,
For in your truth do I abide,
Nor from love depart.
Not with liars will I sit,
The wicked keep at bay.
The hypocrite walks far from me,
There remains for aye.
At your altar innocent
I wash my hands, O Lord,
Proclaiming loud your praise and deeds,
By all men adored.
Where you dwell within your house
I own with love profound,
For there your glory dwells on high,
Angels gathered round.
Purge me not with sinners, Lord,
With men for blood athirst,
Whose hands o’erflow with wicked schemes,
And with bribes well versed.
Blameless is my life each day,
Redeem me now I plead,
And praises midst the throng shall then,
From my mouth proceed.