Another rabbit hole confounds me

Another day, another linguistic rabbit-hole.

On Sunday, we sang Universi qui te expectant by Michael Haydn, which I had not previously known. The Latin of the two verses (Psalm 25:3-4) is:

Universi qui te expectant non confundentur, Domine
Vias tuas Domine notas fac mihi et semitas tuas edoce me.

No English translation is given in the score, but at the rehearsal one of the choir members quickly found:

Let none that wait on thee be ashamed
Shew me thy ways, O LORD; teach me thy paths. [KJV]

Hang on, though. A little bit of Latin shows that Universi is everyone/all, and that non confundentur is will not be confounded, so the verse should be translated:

Everyone who waits for you will not be confounded.

(The more common Latin word for everyone/all is omnes, which can be followed by a noun: omnes gentes or omnes generationes.)

Of the 28 translations on Bible Hub, 17 have none and 8 have no one. The three exceptions are the Contemporary English Version, which has any of your worshipers, the Good News Translation, which has those who trust in you and the Aramaic Bible in Plain English, which has any who hope in you, none of which reflects the – ummm – universality of Universi.

The differences in translation continue with qui te expectant. Although the nearest English word to expectant is expect (literally, look out (for)), no translation uses that. Instead, we get:

No one who hopes in you
none who rely on you
No one who trusts in you
none that wait for thee/Thee (2)
none who wait for you/You (2)
No/no one who waits for you/You (5)
none that wait on thee/you (7)
no one who waits on you
none of them that wait on thee (2)
none of those who wait for Thee/You (2)
none waiting on Thee

So we have none and no one (note that none takes singular agreement (none that/who waits) and no one takes plural agreement (no one that/who wait)) as well as none of them and none of those, wait for and wait on (I can’t not think about restaurants) and thee/Thee and you/You, which is purely a matter of style.

The capitalisation of none/None and no one/No one is due to two factors. The first is that some translations have a preliminary word such as Also, Certainly, for, Indeed, Surely, Yea or Yes. The second is that the main verb is rendered [none/no one] will be confounded or let [none/no one] be confounded, or similar.

The complete line-up is:

none shall be ashamed (4)
none shall in any wise be ashamed
none will be ashamed (3)
none shall be confounded
No one will (ever) be disgraced (3)
none will be humiliated
no one shall be shamed (2)
none shall be put to shame (2)
none will be put to shame
No one will ever be put to shame (2)
let none be ashamed (5)

So, shall and will, ever and in any wise, be ashamed, confounded, disgraced, humiliated, shamed and put to shame. (Let none/no one be confounded is subjunctive, I think (one site calls it the iussive subjunctive). I’ve reached the limit of my knowledge of Latin.)

Wiktionary says that confundentur is third-person plural future passive indicative of cōnfundō“, so it would usually be translated as they will be confounded. Confundo is literally “poured together” and figuratively either “united, joined, combined, mingled” or (as here) “confounded, confused, jumbled together, brought into disorder; disconcerted, perplexed”.

But the psalms were written in Hebrew, not Latin. One Jewish website gives Ps 25:3 as:

גַּם כָּלקֹוֶיךָ, לֹא יֵבֹשׁוּ

My Hebrew is basically non-existent, and I obviously can’t rely on Google Translate, which unhelpfully gives:

All your tents, they shall not be consumed

(The second half of the verse יֵבֹשׁוּ, הַבּוֹגְדִים רֵיקָם comes out as They wear, the clothes are empty, which is even less helpful.)

Bing is even less helpful, giving:

Koich, too, did not dry; Dry, the Traitors Rikam.

So there’ll be work for human bible translators for some time to come.

Michael Haydn (1737-1806) was the younger brother of the more famous Joseph Haydn. Wikipedia, citing but not directly quoting Charles Rosen, says “Joseph regarded his brother’s music highly, to the point of feeling Michael’s religious works were superior to his own (possibly for their devotional intimacy, as opposed to Joseph’s monumental and majestic more secularized symphonic style).” There’s no easier way for a composer to be overlooked than to be a first-degree relative of a really famous one, for example JS Bach’s sons, Mozart’s father and son, and Haydn’s brother (though Bach’s sons and Mozart’s father were more famous in their day).


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