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Psalm 137
Psalm 137 has numerous English translations, many (or all?) controversial. Below is the translation I like best, by Ron Barany, reprinted by permission.

Ron has translated all the Psalms and published them in an attractive hardbound edition (The Psalms, ISBN 0-9657767-0-0). The book is available by writing him at 6553 Chabot Rd., Oakland CA 94618.
I find it interesting that Psalm 137, a cry of captivity, is sandwiched between Psalm 136, "The Great Hallel", a song of freedom sung after the Passover dessert, and Psalm 138, one of King David's thanks to G-d. It's like a horseradish - matzah sandwich.

(In Feb. 2016, I went to a wedding in which this psalm was sung [in Hebrew, of course] immediately before the wine glass was broken.)









  Yehuda Leib Painting
  1. By the rivers of Babylon,
    There we sat down, yea, we wept,
    When we remembered Zion.
  2. There upon the willows,
    We hung our lyres.
  3. For there our captors asked us for songs,
    And our tormentors for joy,
    "Sing us a song of Zion."
  4. How shall we sing the song of the Lord
    In an alien land?
  5. If I forget thee, O Jerusalem,
    Let my right hand wither.
  6. Let my tongue cling to the roof of my mouth,
    If I remember thee not,
    If I prefer not Jerusalem
    Above my chief joy.
  7. Remember, O Lord, what the Edomites did,
    With the fall of Jerusalem,
    Who said, "Raze it, raze it to the ground."
  8. O plundered captive of Babylon,
    Happy is he who will repay thee
    With the reward thou hast given us.
  9. Happy is he who will seize and smash thy despoilers against the rock.

© Ronald Barany, 1997



Last modified 24 Feb. 2016