Psalm 124

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General Information

Psalm 124 belongs to the so-called Songs of Ascent, in Latin cantica graduum or step songs. There are 15 psalms in the series, apparently referring to the 15 steps of the temple in Jerusalem. Psalm 124 is linked to psalm 121, in that both contain 54 words (in Hebrew), the mathematical value of the verb 'keep', 'guard' - the key theme of both psalms.
In lutheran tradition two chorales exist as metrical version of this psalm: Wo Gott der Herr nicht bei uns hält (Justus Jonas) and Wär Gott nicht mit uns diese Zeit (Martin Luther)

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Text and translations

Clementine Vulgate (Psalm 123)

Latin.png Latin text

1  Canticum graduum. Nisi quia Dominus erat in nobis, dicat nunc Israël,
2  nisi quia Dominus erat in nobis: cum exsurgerent homines in nos,
3  forte vivos deglutissent nos; cum irasceretur furor eorum in nos,
4  forte aquae absorbuisset nos;
5  torrentem pertransivit anima nostra;
  forsitan pertransisset anima nostra aquam intolerabilem.
6  Benedictus Dominus, qui non dedit nos in captionem dentibus eorum.
7  Anima nostra sicut passer erepta est de laqueo venantium; laqueus contritus est,
et nos liberati sumus.
8  Adjutorium nostrum in nomine Domini, qui fecit caelum et terram.

Church of England 1662 Book of Common Prayer

English.png English text

1  If the Lord himself had not been on our side, now may Israel say:
  if the Lord himself had not been on our side, when men rose up against us;
2  They had swallowed us up quick: when thy were so wrathfully displeased at us.
3  Yea, the waters had drowned us:
  and the stream had gone over our soul.
4  The deep waters of the proud: had gone even over our soul.
5  But praised be the Lord: who hath not given us over for a prey unto their teeth.
6  Our soul is escaped even as a bird out of the snare of the fowler: the snare is broken,
and we are delivered.
7  Our help standeth in the Name of the Lord: who hath made heaven and earth.

Douay-Rheims Bible (Psalm 123)

English.png English text

A gradual canticle. If it had not been that the Lord was with us, let Israel now say:
If it had not been that the Lord was with us, When men rose up against us,
Perhaps they had swallowed us up alive. When their fury was enkindled against us,
Perhaps the waters had swallowed us up.
Our soul hath passed through a torrent: perhaps our soul had passed through a water insupportable.
Blessed be the Lord, who hath not given us to be a prey to their teeth.
Our soul hath been delivered as a sparrow out of the snare of the fowlers. The snare is broken, and we are delivered.
Our help is in the name of the Lord, who made heaven and earth.

Káldi fordítás

Hungarian.png Hungarian text

Ének a fölmenetekre. Ha az Úr velünk nem lett volna, mondja meg most Izrael…
ha az Úr velünk nem lett volna, midőn ránk támadtak az emberek:
talán elevenen nyeltek volna el minket; midőn az ő haragjok ellenünk fölgerjedett,
talán a víz nyelt volna el minket.
Rohanó patakon ment volna keresztűl a mi lelkünk, talán ellenállhatlan vizen ment volna át a mi lelkünk.
Áldott legyen az Úr, ki nem adott minket az ő fogaiknak martalékúl.
Lelkünk megmenekedett, mint a madár a vadászok tőréből; a tőr elrontatott, és mi megszabadúltunk.
A mi segítségünk az Úr nevében, ki a mennyet és földet teremtette.

Statenbijbel (1637)

Dutch.png Dutch text

1  Een lied Hammaaloth, van David. Ten ware de HEERE, Die bij ons geweest is, zegge nu Israël,
2  Ten ware de HEERE, Die bij ons geweest is, als de mensen tegen ons opstonden;
3  Toen zouden zij ons levend verslonden hebben, als hun toorn tegen ons ontstak.
4  Toen zouden ons de wateren overlopen hebben; een stroom zou over onze ziel gegaan zijn.
5  Toen zouden de stoute wateren over onze ziel gegaan zijn.
6  De HEERE zij geloofd, Die ons in hun tanden niet heeft overgegeven tot een roof.
7  Onze ziel is ontkomen, als een vogel uit den strik der vogelvangers; de strik is gebroken, en wij zijn ontkomen.
8  Onze hulp is in den Naam des HEEREN, Die hemel en aarde gemaakt heeft.

Metrical Paraphrase by Isaac Watts, 1719

English.png English text

A song for the fifth of November.
Had not the Lord, may Israel say,
Had not the Lord maintained our side,
When men, to make our lives a prey,
Rose like the swelling of the tide;

The swelling tide had stopped our breath,
So fiercely did the waters roll,
We had been swallowed deep in death;
Proud waters had o'erwhelmed our soul.

We leap for joy, we shout and sing,
Who just escaped the fatal stroke;
So flies the bird with cheerful wing,
When once the fowler's snare is broke.

For ever blessed be the Lord,
Who broke the fowler's cursed snare,
Who saved us from the murdering sword,
And made our lives and souls his care.

Our help is in Jehovah's name,
Who formed the earth and built the skies:
He that upholds that wondrous frame
Guards His own church with watchful eyes.

Metrical Paraphrase by William Whittingham, 1561

English.png English text

1. Now Israel may say, and that truly,
If that the Lord had not our cause maintained,
If that the Lord had not our right sustained,
When all the world against us furiously
Made their uproars, and said, we should all die.

2. Then long ago they had devoured us all,
And swallowed quick, for ought that we could deem;
Such was their rage, as we might well esteem
And as the floods with mighty force do fall,
So had they now our lives e'en brought to thrall.

3. The raging streams most proud in roaring noise,
Had long ago o'er-whelmed us in the deep;
Praised be God, which doth us safely keep
From bloody teeth, and their most cruel voice
Which as a prey to eat us would rejoice.

4. E'en as a bird from fowler's gin or pen
Escapes away, right so it fares with us;
Broke are the nets, and we escaped thus
God that made heaven and earth is our help then,
His Name hath saved us from these wicked men.

Genevan Psalter (Théodore de Bèze 1551)

French.png French text

Or peut bien dire Israel maintenant,
Si le Seigneur pour nous n'eust point esté,
Si le Seigneur nostre droict n'eust porté,
Quand tout le monde à grand fureur venant
Pour nous meurtrir dessus nous s'est jetté:

Pieça fussions vifs devorez par eux,
Veu la fureur ardente des pervers:
Pieça fussions sous les eaux à l'envers,
Et tout ainsi qu'un flot impetueux
Nous eussent tous abysmez & couverts.

Par dessus nous leurs gros & forts torrens
Eussent pieça passé & repassé.
Loué soit Diue, lequel n'a point laissé
Le peuple sien tomber entre leurs dents,
Pour le manger comme ils avoyent pensé.

Comme l'oiseau du filé se deffait
De l'oiseleur, n ous sommes eschappez,
Rompans le laqs ui nous eust attrappez:
çoila comment le grand Dieu ui a fait
Et terre & ciel, mous a desveloppez.