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Trillian's avatar

Does anyone recognize this phrase?

Asked by Trillian (21116points) January 25th, 2010

“My sins are legion and I am become a monster in the eyes of God.” It was referenced several times in a book I read called The Uncanny. This may not be an exact quote, but it’s close. I believe it must be from an Opera, and I believe the author to be German. I’ve googled it and come up with some strange links, none of which have anything to do with opera. I get really wound up over stuff like this. It took me two years to find out the title for Yellow Ledbetter but it was worth the wait. I hope I don’t have to wait that long for this.

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8 Answers

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MagsRags's avatar

this web page about Bach cantata 199 (Mein Herze schwimmt in Blut) references one of the lines as “My sins have made me a monster in the eyes of God” which is pretty dang close. It’s about a third of the way down the page. The discrepancy could be explained by the translation.

Trillian's avatar

@MagsRags Thanks! Lurve always for helpful answers!

Jeruba's avatar

Interesting. I googled the phrase “sins are legion” by itself and found that it is a rather popular expression in certain kinds of rhetoric, but I did not find anything that looked like a source quote. Each of those instances could of course have been an original pairing of the terms “sin” and “legion,” or some number of them could have been derived from the others; but to say that something is “legion” is a rather archaic expression and seems unlikely to be of contemporary origin. Rather, they all seem to be an allusion to something—perhaps a saying in Catholicism or some other faith?—and yet not something that has a recognized standing as a quotation per se.

The other expression, “monster in the eyes of God,” has only a few occurrences on Google, and one of them is this question. It seems more plausible that this could have multiple independent origins since we do still speak that way.

I didn’t find them together except in this question.

Trillian's avatar

@Jeruba , It turns out to have been Bach’s cantata #199. The phrase is not an original from him, rather recycled from apparently a Lutheran origin. The link supplied by @MagsRags was what I had wanted. Then I went to You tube and typed it in so I could listen. I found one version that was fairly nice. I now need to find the entire thing written out in German and English.
It’s “My heart swims in blood, my sins have made me a monster in the eyes of God.”
You can’t just throw stuff at me like that. I then HAVE to go find the reference or it’ll make me crazy.
Thanks for your interest. You were close with the Catholic guess, but then I’ve always thought of Lutherans as Catholics with a “flair”. ;-)

Jeruba's avatar

I don’t think you’ll find the lyrics online. I searched through 20 pages of Google results in German and found only the title. But you can order the sheet music.

Trillian's avatar

Wow, you are a dedicated searcher. Accept my thanks for your efforts. They’re much appreciated. You’d think I could obsess about something a little more accessible.

Jeruba's avatar

Not really. I just get curious about things too. And I’ll follow almost anything down a rabbit hole.

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