SINGING THE PSALMS: APPLYING PRINCIPLES OF AFRICAN MUSIC TO BIBLE TRANSLATION

June Frances Dickie

Abstract


Psalms were composed to be sung, and translated psalms should also be carefully constructed so that they are easily singable. This requires an understanding of the features of (indigenous) song and rhythm. Towards that end, this paper seeks to summarize some important principles of African music, and indicates some errors made in the past by translators of biblical material to be sung. Then some examples are given from a recent study in which an attempt was made to apply these principles to the translation of some biblical Psalms into isiZulu. The hope is that a sensitivity to such musical features will facilitate a translation that communicates all the aesthetic beauty and memorability of the original.   


Keywords


Bible translation; music; psalms; rhythm; isiZulu

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.7833/116-1-1199

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ISSN 2305-445X (online); ISSN 0254-1807 (print)

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