The Best Translation/Companion of Psalms for Praying

No other book in the world that not only outsells any bestseller, but also reworked or translated the most in many languages than the Bible. The Bible remains the ultimate library, and in this case, not only as a repository of ideas and knowledge on human nature and behavior, but more significantly, as a source of wisdom and comfort. Such is the case with the Hebrew Psalms – timeless as a source of strength, bold in its speech of the mess and sanctity of the human predicament. The more one prays the Psalms, the more one keeps praying them because they resonate so much with the meandering and groping in the dark of the human desires, the lostness and the longing to behold a Face steady enough in its loving gaze to make sense of all temporariness and vanities. The Psalms always remind me that “everything is in flux” said Julian of Norwich. Only one thing is permanent, if you excuse my banality for referring it to a thing – the loving gaze of the Beloved as the ground of my fleeting existence. 

There have been different reworkings or renditions of the Hebrew Psalms especially in the context of regular prayer times. In the past 25 years, I have encountered most of the mainstream renditions of the Psalms for praying – from the Liturgy of the Hours to the New Zealand Prayer Book touted as rendering a more personal approach towards an impersonal addressing of the Thou, from the Messenger’s Bible of the evangelicals to the People’s Companion to the Breviary, from the Protestant NIV version of the Bible to the more contemporary Catholic prayer book Pray Unceasingly. The Psalms for Morning and Evening Prayers is good enough for group chanting. But if you want to have a more contemplative and contemporary experience of incorporating the Psalms in your regular prayer times – go for Nan C. Merill’s Psalms For Praying. They are the most consoling renditions one could pray with, the language so alive and fresh for our antsy, contemporary senses. Here’s part of the preface of the book:

“Who among us has not yearned to know the Unknowable? For most, these moments are fleeting glimpses that may last a lifetime; in some, a Fire is kindled and life becomes a quest to live in Holy Surrender; and though fewer in number, saints dwell among us who know the Beloved, who aspire simply to co-create in harmony with the One, who is Love and Light and Power….

The Psalms have ever been a response to these deep yearnings: cries of the soul…songs of surrender…paeans of praise…”

Here’s part of the rendition of Psalm 62:

For You alone my soul waits in silence;
from the Beloved comes my salvation.
Enfolding me with strength and steadfast love,
my faith shall remain firm.

Yet, how long will fear rule my life,
holding me in its grip like a trembling child,
a dark and lonely grave?
Fear keeps me from living fully, from
sharing my gifts;
it takes pleasure in imprisoning my soul.
Fear pretends to comfort, so long
has it dwelled within me;
truly it is my enemy.

For You alone my soul waits in silence;
my hope is from the Beloved.
Enfolding me with strength and steadfast love,
my faith shall remain firm.
In the Silence rests my freedom and my guidance;
You are the Heart of my heart,
my refuge is in the Silence.

Trust in Love at all times, O people;
pour out your heart to the Beloved;
Let Silence be a refuge for you.
—————————————————

If words in prayer is the other half of Silence, then let those words best guide me back into Silence where words are given birth. This is basically the function of words. So a good translation does really matter.

2 thoughts on “The Best Translation/Companion of Psalms for Praying

  1. “The Bible remains the ultimate library, and in this case, not only as a repository of ideas and knowledge on human nature and behavior, but more significantly, as a source of wisdom and comfort.” I completely agree with that.

  2. Pingback: Me :-)

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