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Making music with the Psalms

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Role: Rinda is a Bible translator. She is musically-inclined, so she also helps compose songs during the process of translating the Psalms.

Location: Thailand

Organization: Thailand Bible Society

Education: Rinda completed secondary education. Over the past three years, she has taken several courses to earn a diploma in theology and Bible translation through a local college in partnership with supporting organizations.

Experience: Rinda has been part of the translation team for 12 years. She worked on the New Testament translation for much of this time, and is currently about one-fourth way through translating the Psalms.

English level: She has basic conversational English and is able to read simple prose. Her limited English proficiency presents a challenge for her translation role, and she has mentioned the language barrier as an obstacle for using quality exegetical resources.

Level of Hebrew: Rinda has no formal Hebrew training, but she has developed intermediate proficiency over her many years of translation experience. Additionally, she has participated in a Psalms workshop led by a consultant. She uses non-technical Hebrew language resources for her work, and she enjoys finding beauty in the Hebrew poetry and bringing it into translation whenever possible.


Rinda comes from a musical culture, and she translates with an ear toward singing the words. Already she has invited a friend to adapt some of the psalms translations for new musical compositions. She wants the translation to be one that can be used for preaching and for singing (or easily adapted for singing), and has already recorded some Psalms music with her translation team.


Interpretive process: The poetry translation process for Rinda and her fellow translators begins with studying well-known poetry in the language of wider communication and then in her own language. After identifying the most important features in local songs and poems, she compares them with those found in Hebrew poetry and tries to keep both the similarities and differences in mind throughout the drafting process. Rinda typically prefers to work with a small group of other translators (rather than by herself). She finds illustrated resources, especially about the cultural background of the Bible, helpful when accompanied by simple English prose. She uses Logos frequently and benefits from electronic Hebrew resources that allow her to easily find more detailed information when needed. She also looks for allusions to other parts of the Bible and finds it helpful when translation aids provide cross-references.

Context for Product Use: Rinda views her translation role as a member of the team, and she studies and works with others on each Psalm. So although some of her study is independent, she shows and discusses her findings with her team. She uses resources towards the beginning of the translation process, especially where existing versions disagree or are unclear, and again during the revision process.

Concerns and Challenges

As an experienced translator, Rinda knows that creating an artistic translation can take a very long time. English resources, especially about cultural backgrounds of the Bible, provide helpful information but presuppose a high level of English.

Sometimes Rinda runs into difficulty when rendering Hebrew synonyms, and sometimes requires assistance from her translation consultant when Hebrew grammar doesn’t match at all with the target language.