Psalm 27, a poetic rendering by Jim Vasquez

From Jim:

Psalm 27 is written in iambic meter and lines 1 and 3 have 8 syllables each (called tetrameter), while lines 2 and 4 have 6 syllables (trimeter).

Psalm 27

My light and my salvation, Lord,
You ever are to me,
The stronghold of my life, now whom
Am I to fear or flee?

Though evil men assail me,
Upon my flesh to prey,
Or enemies come forth they shall
But stumble in the way.

Yea, though an army rise to fight
With ruinous intent,
Or war break out against me still,
Will I be confident.

For but a single thing I ask
Of him who is my stay,
And that most earnestly I seek
Throughout each night and day,

’Tis this, that I may dwell within
His house while life shall last,
To seek and gaze upon his face
In beauty unsurpassed.

For days of trouble lie in wait,
But safely will he keep
And hide me sheltered, safe within
His tabernacle deep.

And then upon a lofty rock,
My head exalted high,
Above my enemies around,
With shouts of joy shall I

Pure sacrifice present to him
And praises shall be heard,
While at his tabernacle flows
To music every word.

Now hear my voice and answer, Lord,
Be merciful to me.
Let not your ear my call disdain
Or closed or hardened be.

For to my heart you oft have said,
“Seek naught but all my face,”
Your face, O Lord, e’er shall I seek,
Its beauty to embrace.

Hide not your face, then, Lord from me,
Nor from your servant turn.
In anger for my countless faults
Let not your rancor burn.

My helper have you been till now,
O God, reject me not.
My Savior, think not to forsake
The work your hands have wrought.

Though father and my mother would
Their offspring disavow,
The Lord will yet receive me and
More charity allow.

Now teach me in your way, O Lord,
And in your path sustain,
For many are my enemies
Who o’er my life would reign.

And what they wish to do forbid,
’Tis violence they breathe,
And rising up they speak, but with
False testimony seethe.

Though trials increase, I’m confident
That I shall ever see
The goodness of the Lord fulfilled
Throughout the land to me.

Now wait, I say, before the Lord,
Be strong in will and heart,
And steady set your gaze on him
Who never fails his part.

4 thoughts on “Psalm 27, a poetic rendering by Jim Vasquez

  1. Brenda Boerger says:

    Hi Jim,

    Yea, though an army rise to fight
    With ruinous intent,
    Or war break out against me still,
    Will I be confident.

    Some of your word orders and phrasing seem to me somewhat archaic, which makes them difficult for English readers of today to understand. In the stanza above the last line has the word order for a question, but the punctuation for a statement.

    Also the word “still” could mean either ‘on a continuing basis’ or ‘yet.’ I think you mean the latter. Therefore, as a reader giving feedback, I’d suggest the following changes:

    Yea, though an army rise to fight
    With ruinous intent,
    Or war break out against me, yet
    I will be confident.

    FWIW,
    ~Brenda

  2. Donna says:

    I love it! I’ve never really understood the Psalms, but as I read more of these poetic translations I think it’s just because the genre is wrong. This type of translation I “get”. Thank you!

  3. Brenda Boerger says:

    Friends,

    This is not a comment on PS 27, but rather a note to let you know that at the BT2011 conference a colleague from EthnoArts and I are releasing a CD called “POET Psalms Sampler 01” (creative title, right?). It contains 15 of the POET Psalms, 10 of which Kevin has set to tunes of his own creation accompanied by guitar (mostly) and 5 of which are set to known hymn tunes (four with keyboard accompaniment and one with an assortment of instruments). I’m working to get a small booklet of the words printed in time to go with the CD, so people can sing along if they care to. There are no footnotes, no formatting, no verse numbers, just the translation lyrics and the songs. We’re making 40 CDs to sell for $10 each.

    The Psalms on this CD are: 3, 5, 13, 23, 25, 27, 36, 43-43, 45, 51 (two versions), 53, 69, 136, and 139.

    If any of you wants one and has friends at BT2011 who will be returning to your place of residence who will a) purchase and b) hand-carry, I’d be happy to put them aside. They will be on sale at the “show & tell” event on MON night 17th. Kevin and I are also doing a lunchtime concert on MON to teach a few of the songs and to expose people to them.

    MON is basically “poetry” day at BT (at my request). That’s when most of the poetry papers are and there is a discussion group in the afternoon, like the one Ernst and I attended at BT2009.

    TUE I give my paper on the role of language and culture documentation (including song, dance, theater…) in BT projects. And there’s a discussion group on that, as well. I see these as linked, but I’m guessing many see poetry as “fluff” and documentation as “techie” and are interested in neither. Each to his own taste.

    Now back to editing paper, preparing handout, preparing powerpoint, picking up five participants at two airports on four days, getting the CD label and lyrics ready, …all by FRI (argh).

    Blessings,
    ~Brenda

    PS Rather than doing business on here, please use my email address brenda_boerger at sil dot org for any commercial communications. And if I have violated any protocols forgive and correct me, please. ~b

  4. Michael Nicholls says:

    I’m enjoying these. Perhaps this will be the decade of the Psalms revolution. I for one never much enjoyed reading the Psalms, although I actually enjoying writing poetry and music.

    Accuracy to genre is an important feature of translation, and it’s nice to see an ‘accurate’ translation regarding that feature.

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