Monday, December 14, 2009

Wycliffe on the Psalter

I have attempted another translation from Middle English into modern English from the prologue of John Wycliffe's Bible, this time concerning the Psalter - any translation errors are mine. To his own remarks, he appends the prologue to the commentary on the Psalms by Richard Rolle of Hampole, which will I translate separately, Lord willing.

John Wycliffe, General Prologue of the Holy Bible, Chap. 11:

The Sautir comprehendeth al the elde and newe testament, and techith pleynly the mysteries of the Trinite, and of Cristis incarnacoun, passioun, rising a3en, stying in to heuene, and sending doun of the Holy Gost, and preching of the gospel, and the coming of Antecrist, and the general dom of Crist, and the glorie of chosen men to blisse, and the peynes of hem that schulen be dampned in helle; and ofte rehersith the stories of the elde testament, and bringith in the keping of Goddis heestis, and loue of enemyes. Noo book in the eld testament is hardere to vndirstonding to vs Latyns, for oure lettre discordith myche fro the Ebreu, and many doctouris taken litel heede to the lettre, but al to the goostly vndirstonding. Wel were him that koude wel vndirstonde the Sautir, and kepe it in his lyuyng, and seie it deuvontly, and conuicte Jewis therbi; for manye men that seyn it vndeuvoutly, and lyuen out of charite, lyen foule on hemself to God, and blasfemen hym, whanne thei crien it ful loude to mennis eeris in the chirche. Therefore God 3eue grace to vs to lyue wel in charite, and sey it deuoutly, and vndirstonde it treuly, and to teche it opinly to Cristen men and Jewis, and bringe hem therby to oure Cristen feith, and brennynge charite.


The Psalter comprehends the Old and New Testament, and teaches plainly the mysteries of the Trinity, and of Christ's incarnation, passion, rising again, ascending into heaven, and sending down of the Holy Ghost, and preaching of the gospel, and the coming of Antichrist, and the general judgment of Christ, and the glory of chosen men to bliss, and the punishments of him that shall be damned in hell; and often rehearses the stories of the Old Testament, and brings in the keeping of God's statutes, and love of enemies. No book in the Old Testament is hard to understand to us Latins, for our writing differs much from the Hebrew, and many doctors taken little heed to the word, but all to the spiritual meaning. Happy is he can can well understand the Psalter, and believe it, and sing it devoutly, and convict Jews thereby; for many men that sing it undevoutly, and believe without charity, lie foolishly to God, and blaspheme him, when they cry it so loud to many ear in the church. Therefore God gives grace to us to live well in charity, and sing it devoutly, and understand it truly, and to teach it openly to Christian men and Jews, and bring them thereby to our Christian faith, and ardent love.

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