The Psalmes in Englysshe

A while back, maybe when I discovered the Sidney Psalms, I got the idea of collecting all the Englished Psalms I could find just for the sheer delight of the language.  Sort of an Oxford Book of English Psalms.  So I’ve googled madly and have discovered some interesting sources, including a database of early English works that probably shouldn’t be open to the public, and I’ve started the long process of gathering the texts, getting them into a text file and formatting them as needed.  Along the way I told my 12-year-old daughter about the project and her eyes lit up with excitement: Poetry!  English!  Psalms!

So she and I have sat down together the last couple of nights to start working through some of these.  We’ve started with the earliest comprehensible Psalms I could find, turned into verse by an English Francisan priest and Doctor of Sacred Theology, Thomas Brampton, who wrote in 1414 A.D.  It turns out she has a fine sense of poetic rhythm and a nearly preternatural ability to find good modern equivalents of archaic words.  She would much rather sit and think about rewe and sythen and avysĕment when I just want to do a slam-bang lookup in an Middle English dictionary.

So, the Great Psalm Project has begun and we’re already reaping rewards.

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Always devouring its lovers

Think, then, of this world as a sea, whipped up to tempestuous heights by violent winds. A person’s own private tempest will be his or her unruly desires. If you love God you will have power to walk upon the waters, and all the world’s swell and turmoil will remain beneath your feet. But if you love the world it will surely engulf you, for it always devours its lovers, never sustains them. —St AugustineSermon 76:1. 4. 5. 8. 9: PL38, 479-483