Friday, December 2, 2011

Joy to the World

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It has been a few years since I sang Christmas carols in Japanese, but when I heard an instrumental rendition of "Silent Night" on the radio the other day, the first line of the Japanese song popped into my mind. I couldn't remember the rest of the words, so today I pulled out my 日本語の賛美歌 (Japanese hymnbook) and started to go through the Christmas songs.

One carol, "Joy to the World," really struck me. Here is a back-translation of the Japanese version. (I have opted for meaning over meter, so it may not go with the original music.)

All ye people, come together as one to celebrate and welcome,
For the Lord for whom we've waited so long has now come!
The Lord e'en now is come.
He broke in pieces the iron doors and set the captives free
The Lord e'en now is come!
In thirsty, withered hearts he makes flowers grow with the dew of mercy. 
The Lord e'en now is come!
Repent* and come to welcome the Son of the God of heaven.
Praise the very Lord and Savior. 
Sing praise, sing praise!

*The word translated here as "repent" was a new one for me. The character 斎 has multiple related meanings, but when read 「いつ・く」"itsuku" it indicates purification and worship. More specifically, my dictionary defines it as "worship, or cleansing both heart and body of impurity and serving God."

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