Friday, June 24, 2011

Yet More Word Matters

'The night is passed, the day lies open before us' is hardly an improvement on 'the night is far spent, the day is at hand.' Why does it have to be so banal?

Equally the doxology ' . . . who is alive and reigns . . .' sounds like a desperate need for reassurance by means of a magic formula. This is what happens when 'remember' is substituted for the 'behold' in the original language. In the event, Jesus is not alive, he is glorified, which is utterly different.

And then there is the hamfisted translation of Isaiah 40:1-11, used at this morning's Eucharist, in the Anglicized NRSV, which is unspeakable:

Comfort, O comfort my people,
 says your God. 

2 Speak tenderly to Jerusalem,
 and cry to her
 that she has served her term,
 that her penalty is paid,
 that she has received from the Lord’s hand
 double for all her sins.

3 A voice cries out:
 ‘In the wilderness prepare the way of the Lord,
 make straight in the desert a highway for our God.

4 Every valley shall be lifted up,
 and every mountain and hill be made low;
the uneven ground shall become level,
 and the rough places a plain.

5 Then the glory of the Lord shall be revealed,
 and all people shall see it together,
 for the mouth of the Lord has spoken.’

6 A voice says, ‘Cry out!’
 And I said, ‘What shall I cry?’
 All people are grass,
 their constancy is like the flower of the field.

7 The grass withers, the flower fades,
 when the breath of the Lord blows upon it;
 surely the people are grass.

8 The grass withers, the flower fades;
 but the word of our God will stand for ever.

9 Get you up to a high mountain,
 O Zion, herald of good tidings;
 lift up your voice with strength,
 O Jerusalem, herald of good tidings,
 lift it up, do not fear;
 say to the cities of Judah,
 ‘Here is your God!’ 

10 See, the Lord God comes with might,
 and his arm rules for him;
 his reward is with him,
 and his recompense before him.

11 He will feed his flock like a shepherd;
 he will gather the lambs in his arms,
 and carry them in his bosom,
 and gently lead the mother sheep.


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