The Bible – Old Testament
1 By the rivers of Babylon we sat mourning and weeping when we remembered Zion.
2 On the poplars of that land we hung up our harps.
There our captors asked us for the words of a song; Our tormentors, for a joyful song: “Sing for us a song of Zion!”
But how could we sing a song of the LORD in a foreign land?
If I forget you, Jerusalem, may my right hand wither.
May my tongue stick to my palate if I do not remember you, If I do not exalt Jerusalem beyond all my delights.
Remember, LORD, against Edom that day at Jerusalem. They said: “Level it, level it down to its foundations!”
Fair Babylon, you destroyer, happy those who pay you back the evil you have done us!
3 Happy those who seize your children and smash them against a rock.
1 [Psalm 137] A temple singer refuses to sing the people’s sacred songs in an alien land despite demands from Babylonian captors (⇒ Psalm 137:1-4). The singer swears an oath by what is most dear to a musician – hands and tongue – to exalt Jerusalem always (⇒ Psalm 137:5-6). The psalm ends with a prayer that the old enemies of Jerusalem, Edom and Babylon, be destroyed (⇒ Psalm 137:7-9).
2  Poplars: sometimes incorrectly translated “willow.” The Euphrates poplar is a high tree common on riverbanks in the Orient.
3  Happy those who seize your children and smash them against a rock: the infants represent the future generations, and so must be destroyed if the enemy is truly to be eradicated.