The Psalms in Rhythmic Prose

The Psalms in Rhythmic Prose

The Psalms in Rhythmic Prose

The Psalms in Rhythmic Prose


The Reverend James A. Kleist, S.J., enjoyed a well-merited reputation in the field of classical languages. Over an extensive period of years, his books and articles were welcomed by authorities in that department of learning.

Some two years before his death, Father Kleist asked the present writer to collaborate with him in translating the Psalms from the new Latin version recently brought out by the scholars of the Pontifical Biblical Institute. In particular, he wanted a colleague to act as consultant in deciding the ultimate English expression into which the Psalms were to be cast, to prepare an analysis of each Psalm, and to supply any notes needed.

Father Kleist's plan, which was gladly accepted, was to do the Psalms in rhythmic prose, and in that medium they are presented in this volume. The Psalms form the very heart of the old Hebrew poetry. But in this version the translators do not attempt to present them as poetry, in the sense in which that term is used in English literature. We use prose, but we do make a borrowing from poetry, in that the prose has introduced into it a stress, a rhythm. There is no intention, therefore, of a metrical rendition; a merely rhythmical rendition is presented. The iambic was chosen since that is the stress most commonly used in English poetry. Hence, it will be found that the movement of the Psalms in this translation is essentially iambic, with the occasional and natural substitution of an anapaest.

A final revision and polishing of the text had been agreed upon. Father Kleist's death, however, intercepted this plan. Thus the completion of the work on the manuscript had to be carried out without the benefit of his assistance.

This version of the Psalms is offered as a book for meditative reading and prayer. For this reason, footnotes and other scholarly apparatus have been kept to a very minimum.

The analysis preceding each Psalm and the selected notes are translated from the version of the Pontifical Biblical Institute . . .

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