Dec 2, 2010

The Psalms in Afrikaans


The Afrikaners of South Africa have their origins in a trading post established by the Dutch East India Company in 1652 at the Cape of Good Hope. The original Dutch settlers were joined by subsequent migrations from France and Germany, as seen in the surnames of many Afrikaners. For centuries the Reformed Christians who constituted the majority of Afrikaners read from the Dutch Statenvertaling Bible and sang the Genevan Psalms in Dutch. However, in the early 20th century the poet Jakob Daniël du Toit, better known by his latinized pen name Totius (photograph at right), versified the Psalms in Afrikaans, the Dutch-descended language used in everyday speech. His collection, commissioned and supervised by the Dutch Reformed Churches, was published in 1936, thereby providing this liturgical resource in Afrikaans for the first time.

I have just received a copy of the most recent Afrikaans-language metrical psalter from one Josef du Toit (no relation), who has himself done work on revising Totius' original versifications. I look forward to exploring it more thoroughly in the near future. In the meantime, here is a Reformed congregation in Franschhoek, Western Cape, South Africa, singing Psalm 81:

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