28 November 2009

Erbarm dich mein, o Herre Gott*

Here is my revised translation of “Erbarm dich mein, o Herre Gott.” (E. Hegenwalt, 1524), a pœnitential hymn upon Psalm 51. I have looked at the German more closely, rather than simply try to update Coverdale’s translation, which, as usual, follows the psalm and his own English bible more closely than Hegenwalt’s text. Yet neither is the latter’s version a vigorous paraphrase as much as a strophic translation.


1. Have mercy on me, Lord my God,
Of kindness Thou hast ever more,
Cleanse my offenses with Thy blood,
I own my sin, it grieves me sore.
I’ve sinned against Thy whole command,
This truth confronts me constantly;
Before Thee evil cannot stand,
And Thou art just to punish me.

2. Behold, Lord, I was born in sin,
In sin conceived with great distress,
Truth Thou desirest deep within,
Lay bare Thy wisdom’s graciousness.
With hyssop, Lord, asperge my flesh,
If washed by Thee, then I am pure,
More white than snow, more glad and fresh,
My bones rejoice to find their cure.

3. O Lord, view not my sin obscene;
Remove all my unrighteousness,
And make my heart within me clean,
A spirit new within me dress.
From out Thy presence cast me not,
Thy Holy Ghost do not decline,
Salvation’s joy, O Lord, allot,
And let the Spirit keep me Thine.

4. I’ll teach ungodly men Thy way,
Thy truth by sinners will be learn’d,
That from the wicked paths that stray
To Thee, by Thee, they may be turn’d,
Protect me, Savior, God alone,
From guilt of blood deliver me!
Thy justice let my tongue make known,
Unlock my lips to worship Thee.

5. Thou wouldst no fleshly gift from me
Else had I quickly given it:
So take this spirit crushed to Thee,
This sad and contrite heart admit.
Do not, O God, this gift reject,
But show Thy kindness graciously
To Zion’s hill, Thy saints elect,
Who offer righteousness to Thee.

Translation © Matthew Carver, 2009.

GERMAN
1. Erbarm dich mein, o Herre Gott,
nach deiner großn Barmherzigkeit.
Wasch ab, mach rein mein Missethat,
ich kenn mein Sünd und ist mir leid.
Allein ich dir gesündigt hab,
das ist wider mich stetiglich;
das Bös vor dir mag nicht besta[h]n,
du bleibst gerecht, ob urtheilst mich.

2. Sieh, Herr, in Sünd bin ich geborn,
in Sünd empfing mich mein Mutter;
die Wahrheit liebst, thust offenbarn
deiner Weisheit heimlich Güter.
Bespreng mich, Herr, mit Isopo,
rein werd ich, wo du wäschest mich,
weißer denn Schnee, mein Ghör wird froh,
alls mein Gebein wird freuen sich.

3. Herr, sieh nicht an die Sünde mein,
thu ab all Ungerechtigkeit,
und mach in mir das Herze rein;
ein neuen Gesit in mir bereit.
Verwirf mich nicht von deim Angsicht,
dein Heilig Geist wend nicht von mir;
die Freud deins Heils, Herr, zu mir richt,
der willig Geist enthalt mich dir.

4. Die Gottlosn will ich deine Weg,
die Sünder auch dazu lehren,
daß sie vom bösen falschen Steg
zu dir durch dich sich bekehren.
Beschirm mich, Herr, meins Heils ein Gott,
vor dem Urtheil durchs Blut bedeut.
Mein Zung verkünd dein rechts Gebot;
schaff, daß mein Mund dein Lob ausbreit.

5. Kein leiblich Opfer von mir heischst,
ich hätte dir das auch geben:
so nimm nun den zerknirschten Geist,
betrübts und traurigs Herz darneben.
Verschmäh nicht, Gott, das Opfer dein,
thu wohl in deiner Gütigkeit
dem Berg Zion, da Christen sein,
die opfern dir Gerechtigkeit.


C.S. TERRY
1. Have mercy, Lord, my sin forgive;
For Thy long-suffering is great!
O cleanse and make me fit to live,
My sore offence do thou abate
With shame do I my fault confess,
Gainst Thee alone, Lord, have I sinned.
Thou art the source of righteousness,
And I the sinner just condemned.


COVERDALE
1. O God, be mercyfull to me,
Accordynge to Thy great pitie;
Washe of, make clene my iniquite:
I knowlege my synne, and it greveth me
Agaynst The, agaynst The only
Have I synned, which is before myne eye:
Though Thou be judged in man’s syght,
Yet are Thy wordes founde true and ryght.

2. Beholde, I was all borne in synne,
My mother conceaved me therin:
But Thou lovest treuth, and haste shewed me
Thy wysdome hyd so secretly.
With fayre ysope, Lorde, sprenkle Thou me;
Washe Thou me clean; so shall I be
Whyter than snowe: cause me reioyse,
Make my bones mery, whom Thou madest lowse.

3. Lorde, turne Thy face from my wickednesse;
Clense me from all unryghteousnesse:
A pure harte, Lorde, make Thou in me,
Renewe a ryght spirite in my body:
Cast me not out away from The,
Nor take Thy Holy Goost from me;
Make me reioyse in Thy savynge health,
Thy myghty Spirite strength me for my wealth.

4. Thy waye shall I shewe to men full of vyce,
And enstructe them well in Thy service;
That wicked men and ungodly
May be converted unto The.
O God, O God, my Savioure,
Delyver me from the synne of murther:
My tonge shall reioyse in Thy mercye;
Open my lippes, and my mouth shal prayse The.

5. Thou wylt have no bodely offrynge;
I thought them els to The to brynge.
God’s sacrifice is a troubled spirite;
Thou wylt not dispise a harte contrite.
With Sion, O God, deale gently,
That Hierusalem walles may buylded be:
Then shalt Thou delyte in the ryght offrynge,
Which men shall with theyr calves brynge.

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