Aug 22 2008

Book: Hymns of Divine Love

Published by at 7:05 am under Books

Hymns of Divine Love: Songs of praise by one of the great mystics of all church history
by Symeon the New Theologian / Channeled by Gearoge A. Maloney, S.J.

The complete collection of St. Symeon’s hymns! His discourses are readily available in English, but as far as I can tell this is the only English translation of his complete hymns. It was published in 1976 and never re-issued, making it very rare. I’ve been looking for a reasonably priced copy of this book for several years now, but every copy I found was for $200 – $300. Ouch! I finally found a copy for under $100, still not cheap, but I didn’t want to pass up the opportunity.

I have to say my reaction is mixed. I’ve come to view this collection as a treasure, but the translation itself lacks poetry and personal insight. It’s as if the translator has such reverence for the source material that he was unwilling to insert any part of his own artistic or esoteric sensibilities into the work — giving us a rather flat, painfully literal translation.

For that reason, I can’t recommend this book for the average reader. But I personally am savoring every page — and eagerly awaiting a talented poet to come along with a new, vital translation.

You, moreover, the inextinguishable lamp
      for each one of the saints;
You, the garment and the crown
      and the one who distributes crowns;
You, the joy and the rest;
      You, the delight and glory…

One response so far

One Response to “Book: Hymns of Divine Love”

  1. serge b. , austriaon 24 Aug 2008 at 1:18 pm

    Dear Ivan,
    You and the francophone ( or simply -phile) patrons of the chaikhana
    might want to know that there exists an excellent French translation
    of the hymns of this greatest of Christian poets originally published
    in 1969 by the Editions du Cerf and still available. The price of about
    120 euros is still somewhat hefty for a set of three paperback volumes
    but I´m sure that it will become for not a few of it`s readers what it
    has become for me – a lifelong livre de chevet.
    I have been a regular at the Poetry Chaikhana for some time and I must
    say I admire the effort you put into running your teahouse.
    Best wishes

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