Tuesday, August 14, 2007


I have used a prayer of Pascal at Compline occasionally - the one in the Oxford Book of Prayer - about fire. Here is his take on Psalm 119 (he obviously did more than wager):
Cette supplication déroule lentement ses 176 versets en un long récitatif et n'est en son fond que la même protestation d'amour indéfiniment répétée sous diverses formes. *

"This supplication unrolls slowly its 176 verses in a long recitative and is at its base but the same protestation of love repeated without limitation in diverse forms."

O that the trace of your love should be treated with such a pedestrian translation. By my measure, joy is the first and love the last of the great themes that the Psalmist introduces in this work. I am half-way through a new diagram showing the distribution of my selected themes. I find it interesting also that in many of the briefs I browsed in the library this evening, it was noted that the 8 keywords are all synonyms for law - I wonder if this is helpful. I noted that at least one other translates imrah as promise as I have done. But what was the state of the written or oral Torah at the time the psalm was written that the psalmist should see 8 synonyms? I think it is more a matter of passion than definition.

In my selected themes, I have ended with love, but there are other repeated words that the psalmist uses after the introduction of love in part 6 - not many, but perhaps strength, thankfulness, fear, knowledge. I had to pause somewhere at least for the moment.

There is no doubt this psalmist has known trouble. Little doubt to me that he also prays for his enemies (not, on the surface, nice prayers - but what do you expect!)
*Pascal: (Cited in Les Psaumes, Desclée de Brouwer - no specific reference given.)

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