I heard a song using the phrase jubilate Deo, and it seems that this phrase appears in a psalm as well. I assume the Deo/Domino is a dative. On the other hand, the L&S entry for jubilare also mentions the accusative usage me jubilat.

So, it seems that I can use jubilare with accusative or dative. What is the difference between the two cases? Perhaps Marcum iubilo would mean "I call out to Marcus" and Marco iubilo "I shout in joy for Marcus" — I would like to have more than my guess. I haven't managed to find a comparison, and the cited dictionary makes no explicit mention of cases whatsoever.

2 Answers 2


I am going to go out on a limb and suggest that this is a calque from the Septuagint translation of the Psalms. Iubilare is very rare (by my count, less than 10 occurrences) and does not have any attested uses with the dative or ablative.

The Greek, however, is quite clear:

᾿Αλαλάξατε τῷ κυρίῳ, πᾶσα ἡ γῆ (Ps 99 (100): 1)

ἀλαλάζω can be used with the accusative (what they are shouting about) or dative (to whom they raise a cry): the latter usage is seen in the Anabasis:

ἐπεὶ δ᾽ ἐπαιάνισαν καὶ ἡ σάλπιγξ ἐφθέγξατο, ἅμα τε τῷ Ἐνυαλίῳ ἠλέλιξαν. (Xen Ana 5.2)

Then, they sang and the trumpet sounded, and at the same time they raised a shout to Enyalius.

One fact worth noting is that the Psalms, which were such an integral part of the liturgy, were firmly engrained in the minds of early Latin-speaking Christians before Jerome undertook his translation. As a result, the Vulgate follows the Vetus Latina very closely, often with somewhat confusing results. The Vetus Latina (if I am not mistaken) used the Septuagint as its primary source text, so it seems reasonable that they copied the Greek syntax above with the most plausible substitute for ἀλαλάζω: iubilo.

Pius XII commissioned an updated translation of the psalms that follows the Hebrew with less awkward syntax. Its translation is slightly different:

Exsultate Domino, omnes terrae.

Exsulto, as seen in the linked L&S entry, often takes the ablative (alone or with in).

In short: iubilo + dat./abl. is not classically attested and may just be a Latin calque on a Greek construction, though it is readily understood.

  • BTW, I'm aware that the Vetus Latina is not a monolithic translation, and my statement about its relation to the LXX is based on vague memories. I appreciate any corrections/clarifications!
    – brianpck
    Feb 28, 2017 at 14:28
  • Your speculation looks well-based and convincing to me. But though I take the point that you find no other examples of jubilo governing a dative or ablative, can you explain why Jubilate Deo itself, certainly familiar since the mid-fourth century, cannot provide an adequate precedent for anyone who wishes to use the verb?
    – Tom Cotton
    Mar 1, 2017 at 15:41
  • @TomCotton I didn't quite say that: the fact that it isn't "classically attested" is a big deal to some, a non-issue for others. In fact, many of the "idiosyncracies" of medieval Latin are direct results of translation choices like these, to a much greater extent than how many phrases in modern English are influenced by the KJV.
    – brianpck
    Mar 1, 2017 at 16:52
  • Jerome’s “iubilate Deo” could however also be seen as a perfectly literal translation of הָרִיעוּ לַיהוָה “make a joyful noise unto the LORD”, with the preposition “la” rendered (as usual) by the Latin dative.
    – fdb
    Mar 2, 2017 at 17:18
  • @fdb That sounds about right, though the Vetus Latina primarily was translated from the Septuagint, which itself was a pretty literal translation from the Hebrew. Jerome followed the Vetus Latina very closely for the Psalms, since they were already so well known.
    – brianpck
    Mar 2, 2017 at 17:59

Jubilate Deo is the opening to Psalm 100 :

Jubilate Deo omnis terra! Quia veniet tibi salvator!(bis) Montes et colles humiliabuntur Et erit in die illa lux magna, Ecce veniet in nubibus coeli. . .

It's usually translated as 'Rejoice in the Lord, all ye Lands!', and there is a well-known English hymn, called 'The Old Hundredth', which has 'All people that on Earth do dwell / Sing to the Lord with cheerful voice . . .'

I think in the present case that you might regard Deo as either ablative ('Rejoice in') or dative (sing / shout out to), just as you wish. The accusative is also used in the sense of 'hail', or 'call out to', for which Smith's Latin-English gives an example, jubilare aliquem.

  • To avoid possible confusion, I ought to add that this is Ps. 100 in the Book of Divine Worship. In the Vulgate it is no. 99.
    – Tom Cotton
    Feb 28, 2017 at 16:43
  • It is numbered as "100" in the Hebrew Bible and the English KJV; in the LXX and Vulgata it is numbered as "99".
    – fdb
    Mar 2, 2017 at 17:20

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