Monday, January 21, 2013

Beulah and Hephzibah

I thought the first reading for yesterday, from Isaiah 62, was especially beautiful, even in the NAB, which usually takes beautiful passages and turns them into rather clunky ones. I thought I'd put up with three other versions that have a good reputation for doing poetic passages well.

[NAB] For Zion's sake I will not be silent, for Jerusalem's sake I will not be quiet, Until her vindication shines forth like the dawn and her victory like a burning torch. Nations shall behold your vindication, and all kings your glory; You shall be called by a new name pronounced by the mouth of the LORD. You shall be a glorious crown in the hand of the LORD, a royal diadem held by your God. No more shall men call you "Forsaken," or your land "Desolate," But you shall be called "My Delight," and your land "Espoused." For the LORD delights in you, and makes your land his spouse. As a young man marries a virgin, your Builder shall marry you; And as a bridegroom rejoices in his bride so shall your God rejoice in you.

[NRSV] For Zion’s sake I will not keep silent, and for Jerusalem’s sake I will not rest, until her vindication shines out like the dawn, and her salvation like a burning torch. The nations shall see your vindication, and all the kings your glory; and you shall be called by a new name that the mouth of the Lord will give. You shall be a crown of beauty in the hand of the Lord, and a royal diadem in the hand of your God. You shall no more be termed Forsaken, and your land shall no more be termed Desolate; but you shall be called My Delight Is in Her, and your land Married; for the Lord delights in you, and your land shall be married. For as a young man marries a young woman, so shall your builder marry you, and as the bridegroom rejoices over the bride, so shall your God rejoice over you.

[Ronald Knox] For love of Sion I will no more be silent, for love of Jerusalem I will never rest, until he, the Just One, is revealed to her like the dawn, until he, her deliverer, shines out like a flame. All the nations, all the kings of the nations, shall see him, the just, the glorious, and a new name shall be given thee by the Lord’s own lips. The Lord upholds thee, his crown, his pride; thy God upholds thee, his royal diadem. No longer shall men call thee Forsaken, or thy land Desolate; thou shall be called My Beloved, and thy land a Home, now the Lord takes delight in thee, now thy land is populous once again. Gladly as a man takes home the maiden of his choice, thy sons shall come home to thee; gladly the Lord shall greet thee, as bridegroom his bride.

[KJV] For Zion's sake will I not hold my peace, and for Jerusalem's sake I will not rest, until the righteousness thereof go forth as brightness, and the salvation thereof as a lamp that burneth. And the Gentiles shall see thy righteousness, and all kings thy glory: and thou shalt be called by a new name, which the mouth of the Lord shall name. Thou shalt also be a crown of glory in the hand of the Lord, and a royal diadem in the hand of thy God. Thou shalt no more be termed Forsaken; neither shall thy land any more be termed Desolate: but thou shalt be called Hephzibah, and thy land Beulah: for the Lord delighteth in thee, and thy land shall be married. For as a young man marrieth a virgin, so shall thy sons marry thee: and as the bridegroom rejoiceth over the bride, so shall thy God rejoice over thee.


  1. branemrys7:56 AM

    I think this is a passage in which the NAB does unusually well. I actually read it at Mass, and usually these poetic passages are extremely difficult to read out loud, like a car that keeps driving off the road. But this one seemed to hit all the notes right, and with speakable rhythm, so it stood out.

  2. branemrys8:31 PM

    What gets me about the whole thing is that as a Catholic translation used at Mass, being read and sung aloud is its primary function. And yet it is very consistently one of the worst translations for both.

    But such is the Catholic Church in the modern world: always trying to do things with an instrument obviously better suited for something else. It's like the whole thing was patched together by St. MacGyver out of things that were just lying around the sanctuary.

  3. MrsDarwin8:55 AM

    Holy duct tape, Batman!


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