31 August 2011

An Wasserflüssen Babylon (Repost)

This hymn with its famous tune borrowed by "A Lamb Goes Uncomplaining Forth," used to be sung on the 10th Sunday after Trinity and its following week, in remembrance of the destruction of Jerusalem. Valerius' Herberger's father Martin used to sing it while working. Here is my translation, a supplement to the first stanza translated by Henry Drinker.


I N Babylon by water-streams
We sat in sorrow reeling;
As Zion filled our thoughts and dreams,
We wept with heartfelt feeling;
We hanged aloft with heavy heart
The harp and organ's goodly art,
Upon the willows mournful
That in that people's country stand;We suffered daily at their hand Abuse and slander scornful.

2. There they who took us cruèlly,
And carried us to prison,
Required of us a melody,
With words of pure derision,
Demanding in our sad estate
A song of gladness to relate:
“Oh, let us hear thee render
Some merry tune. Some anthem sweet
Of Zion’s poetry repeat,
With echoes glad and tender.

3. “How can we thus, as captives long
Beset by griefs and dangers,
Sing to the Lord His rightful song
In lands where we are strangers?”
Should I forget thee, Salem mine,
May my Right Hand, my Lord divine,
Forget me, too, forever,
And should I bear thee not in mind,
May tongue to palette firmly bind,
And break its silence never,—

4. Yea, should I not, Jerusalem,
Above all joys adore thee,
As I compose thy joyful hymn
And sing it sweetly for thee.
Remember Edom’s children, Lord
When Salem fell beneath their sword
And wicked exclamation:
“Oh raze it, raze it, let it die,
Until its walls in ruins lie,
And shatter its foundation!”

5. Foul daughter thou of Babylon,
In wreck and devastation;
What blessings shall attend the one,
Who gives thee compensation
For all thy pride and villainy,
And meteth also unto thee,
As thou thyself hast meted!
Blest he who takes thine infant stock
And dasheth it against the rock,
Till thy name is depleted.

Translation  © Matthew Carver, 2009–11.


Priscilla said...

Thanks so much for doing these translations, and putting them online under the Creative Commons license! I'm recreating a 1526 Strassburg Vespers service, and have been busy looking for English psalm versifications to go with the appropriate original Strassburg melodies. Because of you I've been able to include Ps. 137. This was a life-saver!

Matt Carver (Matthaeus Glyptes) said...

Hi Priscilla, I'm glad it worked out for you! Thanks for the kind note. (And sorry it took so long to respond.)