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Revised Grail Psalms 3

I will look at one psalm from the Revised Grail Psalter. I tire of the circular groove worn around whether Psalm 1 loses its messianic “intention” when “the man” is abandoned, so I will choose to look at Psalm 2.

The Revised Grail has:

1 Why do the nations conspire,
and the peoples plot in vain?

Completely abandons the Grail translation, including the Grail “murmuring” preferred by Robert Alter’s The Book of Psalms: A Translation with Commentary. Instead this verse is now completely taken from NRSV. People: if you want NRSV use NRSV!

2 They arise, the kings of the earth;
princes plot against the LORD and his Anointed.

is traditional Grail

3 “Let us burst asunder their fetters.
Let us cast off from us their chains.”

Combines Traditional Grail (fetters) and NRSV (burst asunder) with English as I’ve never heard it (do even Americans with their “casting off of things” say “Let us cast off from us their chains.”? [And would you have gone for “chains” in the second line?]

4 He who sits in the heavens laughs;
the LORD derides and mocks them.

First half is Traditional Grail. Second half does not follow Liturgiam authenticam. There is no “and” in this line, there are not two things that the LORD does. See Alter: “the Master derides them” – there is no “and mocks” in the Hebrew as there is no “and” stuff in the Traditional Grail.

5 Then he will speak in his anger,
his rage will strike them with terror.

Is traditional Grail:

6 “It is I who have appointed my king
on Sion, my holy mountain.”

Traditional Grail “set up” becomes “appointed”. Change for change sake? The Hebrew can be set, install, appoint.

7 I will announce the decree of the LORD:
The LORD said to me, “You are my Son.
It is I who have begotten you this day.

This is traditional Grail.

8 Ask of me and I will give you
the nations as your inheritance,
and the ends of the earth as your possession.

Combines Grail and NRSV again.

9 With a rod of iron you will rule them;
like a potter’s jar you will shatter them.”

The translator abandons the Grail and NRSV (and Alter’s) reading, abandons the Hebrew poetic parallelism of

With a rod of iron you will break them,
shatter them like a potter’s jar.”

and, instead, goes for the LXX interpretation of a quite different vocalisation רָעָה (ra’ah, “to shepherd”) rather than רָעָע (ra’a’, “to break”).

10 So now, O kings, understand;
take warning, rulers of the earth.

This is traditional Grail plus “so” (another LXX interpretation – unnecessary in this case?)

11 Serve the LORD with fear;
exult with trembling, pay him your homage,
12 lest he be angry and you perish on the way,
for suddenly his anger will blaze.
Blessed are all who trust in God!

again combines Traditional Grail and NRSV.

Revised Grail Psalm 2
Grail Psalm 2
NRSV Psalm 2
You can do this kind of work yourself, I provide free online Bible study resources here.

Cistercian Brother Stephen argues here that the (copyright free) Anglican psalter in BCP (TEC) is a better version.

The Holy Father has told us that there is an Anglican Patrimony with gifts for the wider Church. Those gifts are not limited only to those of us who love the Coverdale Psalter and the traditional idiom. The contemporary Anglican texts also provide much that is useful and beautiful. The genius of the Church has been its ability to adapt and incorporate. Why are we so reluctant to borrow from the folks who pioneered the English liturgy? Why do we still hold tenaciously to the policy of ICELation?

The Book of Divine Worship, the Anglican Use text in the Roman Catholic Church, is available here.
The copyright-free BCP (TEC), including the psalter is available here.

In the Southern Hemisphere, and certainly in Aotearoa-New Zealand, this is our go-slow time… So – sometimes your comments may take longer than usual to get through moderation…

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One Response to Revised Grail Psalms 3

  1. As someone who has prayed the 1979 BCP psalter for decades, I wholeheartedly agree with Br. Stephen. I like to experiment with other translations and liturgical forms for the Daily Office, but I always end up coming back to the 1979 BCP (BDW contemporary) psalter. It has endured over the years as a sayable, singable translation that points to the truths within it rather than its own cleverness.

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About This Site Welcome to this ecumenical website of resources and reflections on liturgy, spirituality, and worship for individuals and communities. It is run by Rev. Bosco Peters.

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