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Translation of a Liturgical Song from German

with 5 comments

The Gloria in Excelsis translated from the Latin

into German by Nikolaus Decius in 1522.

1 Allein Gott in der Höh sei Ehr

2 und Dank für seine Gnade.

3 Darum das nun and nimmermehr

4 uns rühren kann kein Schade.

5 Ein Wohlgefallen Gott an uns hat,

6 Nun ist gross Fried ohn Unterlas

7 Wohl uns des feinen Herren. (From WA 35:530)

(second ending)

7 All Fehd hat nun ein Ende.

1 Alone God on High we glorify

2 giving thanks for grace and mercy

3 For neither now nor nevermore

4 can we be touched by injury.

5 We are the apple of God’s eye

6 in unceasing peace we now abide

7 How good for us so fine a Lord.

(second ending)

7 All strife will now be ending.

pkrey 8/14/2003

To launch another – let me hope – improvement for the piece:

1 Solely God on High we glorify

2 giving thanks for grace and mercy.

3 For neither now nor nevermore

4 will any harm our portion be.

5 We are the apple of God’s eye

6 in unceasing peace we now abide

7 How great to have so fine a Lord.

(second ending)

7 All strife will now be ending.

January 30, 2008

Again, now January 4, 2009:

Another attempt:

1 One God on high we glorify

2 And thank for grace and mercy.

3 For neither now nor evermore

4 Will we be harmed by injury.

5 We are the apple of God’s eye

6 in unceasing peace we now abide

7 All strife will now be ending.

(I think this might be better.)

I first thought this liturgical song was written by Martin Luther because I found it in his Works WA 35:530 (at the bottom of the page).

WA stands for the Weimar Edition of his works. This is the way it reads there:

Al-lein Gott in der
Höh sei Ehr und Dank für sei-ne Gnade,
darum daß nun und
nimmermehr uns rüh-ren kann kein Schade, ein Wohlgefallen Gott an uns hat, nun ist groß Fried ohn Unterlaß
Wohl uns des feinen Her-ren.

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Written by peterkrey

July 27, 2007 at 3:19 am

Posted in My Songs

5 Responses

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  1. official and correct translation
    Words: Nikolaus Decius, in the Gesang Buch (Rostock, Germany: 1525) (Allein Gott in der Höh sei Ehr); translated from German to English by Catherine Winkworth, Chorale Book for Eng land, 1863, alt.
    Music: Allein Gott, Deutsch Evangelisch Messze, 1539

    All glory be to God on high,
    Who hath our race befriended!
    To us no harm shall now come nigh,
    The strife at last is ended;
    God showeth His goodwill to men,
    And peace shall reign on earth again;
    O thank Him for His goodness!

    Betty

    July 28, 2007 at 2:26 am

  2. Dear Betty,
    You know German. How can her words be “official and correct”? Where do you see anything about “befriending our race” in the German? It also says that we thank God for his grace and not for his goodness. Of course, my “apple of God’s eye” is also not there, although in a metaphor it does say that God shows us favor.

    I try to get closer to the German and see more value in that than just glancing off into a different song in the different language. Her words sing well, but mine are singable as well. “Alone” in the first line needs to be two grace notes, with the emphasis on “God” to make it work.

    She is a rather wonderful song translator. I recently looked at how she did many of Paul Gerhardt’s songs and they were quite well translated. I wonder how she learned her German or whether it was her native tongue?

    peter

    Peter Krey

    July 28, 2007 at 5:34 am

  3. What I gave you is officially recognized as the translation of “Allein Gott in der Höh’ sei Ehr”. Maybe you should not call your version a translation.

    Betty

    July 28, 2007 at 11:25 am

  4. Of course, the idea of an “official” translation is ludicrous. In the centuries since “Allein Gott” was written, there have been many translations. Winkworth’s is merely the best known. And any translation has its strengths and weaknesses. Personally, I think that Peter’s, though in places it is closer in meaning to the German original, just doesn’t work well in English. Putting “alone” first is not idiomatic English, and “How good for us so fine a Lord” is pretty much incomprehensible. But that’s the challenge of translating–trying to make it both true to the original and eloquent in the second language. That can never be done perfectly, and that’s why we keep trying.

    Robert Farlee

    January 30, 2008 at 4:35 pm

  5. Dear Robert,

    Thank you so much for your encouragement. To keep up with our language and usage is also another rationale for re-translating songs, that is, in addition to your reason.

    Thank you for the critique.

    What about “How great to have so fine a Lord.” as the final line in the first verse?

    For the first line: “It’s God on high we glorify” would lose the soli deo gloria. I still have to figure that one out.

    What do you think?

    peter

    Peter Krey

    January 31, 2008 at 5:50 am


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