My third-grade teacher taught us how to sing the carol, “Silent Night” in Dutch. We sang it for the residence of the retirement home. I still remember the Dutch lyrics, but I never really knew what the words said.
My dad was commenting on the song the other day and complained that the words of the English version of the song have very little of the depth found in the original German or the Dutch translation.
I dropped the Dutch version of the song into Google Translate. The third verse goes like this:
Silent Night, Holy night,
Salvation is brought.
To a world lost in debt,
God’s promise is wonderfully fulfilled.
Keep in mind that the translator has no consideration for the rhyme, but notice the focused theological assertions.
I don’t need to remind you of the third verse that we sing every year:
Silent night, holy night
Son of God, oh, love’s pure light
Radiant beams from Thy holy face
With the dawn of redeeming grace
Unfocused. A little weird. Confusing.
I agree with my dad; something has been lost in the translation.
Just for fun, the Original German version has a whole different tone:
Silent night, holy night,
Son of God, oh how laughs
Love out of your divine mouth,
For now the hour of salvation strikes for us.