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In die Skriflig

On-line version ISSN 2305-0853
Print version ISSN 1018-6441


VAN ROOY, H.F.. Psalm 137 and metrical versions of imprecatory psalms. In Skriflig (Online) [online]. 2009, vol.43, n.3, pp.585-600. ISSN 2305-0853.

This article discusses seven metrical versions of the imprecatory section of Psalm 137, two in Dutch (1773 and 1968), two in English (in the "Psalter hymnal" of the Christian Reformed Church and in "Sing psalms" of the Free Church of Scotland) and three Afrikaans versions (J.D. du Toit, T.T. Cloete and Lina Spies), looking at the way in which these versions treated this section. This is done in the light of recent research on Psalm 137, and especially the imprecatory section. In the literature questions are asked about the singing of this kind of psalm in the church, but also about the omission or softening of this part of Psalm 137 in the versions of Cloete and Spies. The choice of melody, the number of strophes used and the division of the contents of the psalm in strophes play an important role in determining most of the omissions or alleviations in the metrical versions. All seven the versions discussed took the imprecatory section seriously. The problems raised against these versions can be ascribed to these choices, and not to a deliberate attempt to circumvent the problem of such an imprecatory section. The version of Spies is the only exception, with the omission of the last line of the psalm.

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