1650 Scottish Psalter: asking for critique

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py3ak

They're stalling and plotting against me
Staff member
(one specific criticism I remember, though aimed at "awkwardness" is when the sentence is broken up midway in a line, like Psalm 96:12-13
I know this is not your criticism, but on general grounds this is absurd. Enjambment is native to English poetry; in the old alliterative metres it was practically universal, since the next sentence was supposed to start on the second half-line. For all the musicality and smoothness and skill of Pope, those perpetually end-stopped couplets tend to induce a certain fatigue
 

Logan

Puritan Board Junior
Ruben,
I don't think he is talking about enjambment. The example he brings up is where a phrase is broken across stanzas, which really breaks the flow of thought and if you're just hearing it (instead of reading it, as a child would), you get a completely different sense. To be fair, it is broken across verses in our Bible, but when you read it there is no pause as there is when you are singing. Here are the stanzas in question:

12 Let fields rejoice, and ev'ry thing
that springeth of the earth:
Then woods and ev'ry tree shall sing
with gladness and with mirth


13 Before the Lord; because he comes,
to judge the earth comes he:
He'll judge the world with righteousness,
the people faithfully.
Wade,
I'm sure you can think of your own reasons. But songs we learn when we are young stick with us forever. I would very much like to have my children be able to sing the Psalms and recall any of them at will. I want that for myself as well. Music touches our souls in a special place, and what better music to have in our hearts than God's inspired words? Calvin called the psalms an "anatomy of the soul" and that they were in effect a mini-Bible.
 
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py3ak

They're stalling and plotting against me
Staff member
Ruben,
I don't think he is talking about enjambment. The example he brings up is where a phrase is broken across stanzas, which really breaks the flow of thought and if you're just hearing it (instead of reading it, as a child would), you get a completely different sense. To be fair, it is broken across verses in our Bible, but when you read it there is no pause as there is when you are singing. Here are the stanzas in question:

12 Let fields rejoice, and ev'ry thing
that springeth of the earth:
Then woods and ev'ry tree shall sing
with gladness and with mirth


13 Before the Lord; because he comes,
to judge the earth comes he:
He'll judge the world with righteousness,
the people faithfully.
Thanks for clarifying, Logan. I'm still not sure it's a big problem unless one is only singing select stanzas; and it's probably inevitable since the paragraphs are of variable lengths, but the stanzas of a melody are not.
 

Logan

Puritan Board Junior
Ruben,
I think it mainly becomes a problem because we can't hear punctuation (unless you're Victor Borge). Unfortunately this is hard to avoid all the time but in this particular case, someone listening, memorizing, or even reading without paying careful attention to punctuation might just assume that "he" is coming before the Lord to judge the earth. Which is strange, to say the least.

I and my wife sometimes memorize psalms by listening to recordings of other people singing. So this is indeed a potential problem but of course not an insurmountable one, just a good one to consider.
 

Afterthought

Puritan Board Senior
py3ak said:
I know this is not your criticism, but on general grounds this is absurd. Enjambment is native to English poetry; in the old alliterative metres it was practically universal, since the next sentence was supposed to start on the second half-line. For all the musicality and smoothness and skill of Pope, those perpetually end-stopped couplets tend to induce a certain fatigue.
A good point. I don't recall well enough whether they were referring to enjambment (One thing I like about this forum is all the new concepts and words one learns! Somehow enjambment was overlooked in all the other things I learned about poetry in school. Psalm 107:5-6 provides an example of what you were referring to.), but I think they were referring to perceived awkward enjambments as well as the example I gave. I've noticed that in more modern psalters, like the Trinity Psalter, these have pretty much disappeared, in exchange for a somewhat irregular or different meter, so I wouldn't be surprised if such enjambments were also a concern.

I too agree that these breaking up of lines aren't that big of a problem.
 

Kaalvenist

Puritan Board Sophomore
I run The 1650 Psalter website and co-led the Scottish Metrical Psalm Sing at the RP International Conference last year. It should be obvious where my preferences are.

That having been said, I've noticed over the years a few places where the Scottish Psalter (like the Authorized Version) could be better.

You've already mentioned the second version of Psalm 136. I've also noticed Psalm 103:17:

But unto them that do him fear
God's mercy never ends;
And to their children's children still
his righteousness extends.

The AV has, "But the mercy of the LORD is from everlasting to everlasting upon them that fear him, and his righteousness unto children's children." I've noted for years that His mercy being "from everlasting" indicates divine election; and His mercy being "to everlasting" indicates the perseverance and preservation of the saints. The Scottish Psalter unfortunately "smooshes" them together here (or simply elides the former element). Both of the newer RPCNA Psalter (1973 and 2009) do a better job here. Unfortunately, they introduce a problematic rendering of verse 13 of this Psalm, omitting the fear of the LORD that is being repeated from verse 11. Oddly enough, the 1912 Psalter does a better job at both of these places (verses 13 and 17), but is generally horrible throughout. In other words, you won't find a perfect Psalter. I would say that, generally speaking, the Scottish Psalter is superior to any other in the English language on the score of accuracy. Any others that I have looked at usually introduce other problems when they try to "fix" the 1650.

As far as some of the points of criticism that you've already mentioned:

1. Less understandable --- I totally understand. ;) I've found this to be less of a problem since I already use the AV. If you have TBS Bibles with the Psalter in the back, they probably already come with a word list that helps to identify less common words; I've found that most of such words in the 1650 also occur in the AV. But you already mentioned that you use the Comprehensive Psalter, which also defines unfamiliar words. As far as the rearranging of words, I would recommend either reading the passage through before singing it, or reading it in the AV, or both. Usually the meaning comes out when you slow down to think about it.

Personally, I find it less easy to follow the meaning of a Psalm when it's meshed together with a tune. I precent for The Book of Psalms for Singing in our congregation, and I've found it easier to get at the meaning if it's a longer Psalm with some concluding stanzas that are below the tune (for example, the four concluding stanzas of Psalm 32A). You can see the whole stanza at one glance, and therefore have a better grasp of the overall meaning, rather than trying to take every word as it comes, while trying to follow the tune with your eyes at the same time.

2. The meter is off --- Admittedly, that can take some getting used to. It starts with the third verse of the first Psalm: "river" and "never." When I first started using the Scottish Psalter, I had never heard anyone else use it, and I thought the lines with a -tion word that were obviously short a syllable required that I pronounce it, "Sal-va-ti-on doth appertain" (3:8); whereas most that I know who have sung it all their lives would sing it, "Sal-va-a-tion doth appertain" (simply lengthening the syllable preceding it to cover two beats). And what is worse, it's not indicated in the text at all. My preference would be to have a circumflex accent mark over all such vowels that ought to be lengthened; perhaps if I ever get around to a critical edition of the Scottish Psalter (yes, there are differences that have crept into different editions!), that could get added.

In the mean time, I'll simply note that my wife has only been singing from the Scottish Psalter since we got married less than five years ago, and she is quite used to it --- only once in a great while will either of us be thrown off.

3. Difficulty in memorizing --- I understand the desire to have a distinct tune for each selection. Right now, we have a memory Psalm (selection) that we sing in family worship (we sing previous memory Psalms as well, in order to keep them familiar), with a different tune assigned to each. Historically, though, Presbyterians would commit large portions of the Psalter, or even the entire Psalter, to memory --- even when they would know perhaps only six or fewer tunes. My guess is that they learned them as one would learn poetry, with the ability then to "plug in" the words of a Psalm to any tune. Sometimes, I wish I knew the Psalms in this way; I often find it difficult to remember the words of a Psalm without remembering the tune, or to sing a Psalm to any tune other than the tune I've matched to it.

As far as the history is concerned, Scotland had one authorized Psalter before this, used from 1564 to 1650. If you know Tim Duguid, you could ask him about it. :) The Scottish Psalter of 1650 was not used as universally as the AV Bible; the Scottish Psalter was used by all English-speaking Presbyterians until the mid to late 1700s, while the AV Bible was used by all English-speaking Protestants until the late 1800s. In America, all Presbyterians used it exclusively until the introduction of Watts into congregations; originally, Watts' influence was confined to New Side / New Light Presbyterians that were influenced by the First Great Awakening. American Congregationalists used the Bay Psalm Book (which, shortly after its first publication in 1640, had several "Scripture songs" appended to it); Anglicans and Baptists tended to use either Sternhold and Hopkins (1562), or Tate and Brady (1696). Even after the introduction of paraphrases and hymns, all of the Presbyterians in Scotland, Ireland, and Canada continued to use the Scottish Psalter of 1650, until the late 1800s. As far as a "universal Psalter," it's the closest thing that English-speaking Presbyterians have. The fact that it's still used on virtually every continent, and still bears the authorization of every church that descends from the Church of Scotland (i.e. every English-speaking Presbyterian church), tends to buttress that claim.

Our Synod adopted a new Psalter version in 2009. I don't know when the next one will be; I can almost guarantee that it will be in the next twenty years or so. I want to use a Psalter (and a Bible!) that is not going to change with every generation. The ironic part of it is that, one day, The Book of Psalms for Singing (1973) and The Book of Psalms for Worship (2009) will become outdated, and their publication will be discontinued. But the Scottish Psalter will continue to be published, and continue to be used in congregational and family worship --- in a hundred years from now, it will, in its own way, be modern and relevant; while they will be literary and musical curiosities to seminary students writing papers about the history of Psalter versions in the RPCNA. In a sense, I'm just planning for the future.
 

Logan

Puritan Board Junior
I run The 1650 Psalter website and co-led the Scottish Metrical Psalm Sing at the RP International Conference last year. It should be obvious where my preferences are.
Sean, thank you. Yes, I was there at the psalm sing, I actually helped you carry in a box of psalters, though I'd been using the Comprehensive Psalter for a while at that time. I was hoping you'd chime in eventually :)
I also was there at Tim Duguid's lecture and remember you sticking around to ask some questions at the end.

As for criticisms, many of the ones you mention are not my own, but I want to be aware of criticisms people may have. I do not personally struggle with the language or understandability, though because of convoluted grammar and punctuation sometimes you have to really pay attention. I also do not have problems with the meter as I usually can gauge the number of syllables left on the line and where we need to hold and where we need to put two notes to a syllable.

Like I said, anything can be surmounted but is it really beneficial? The Latin Vulgate was in use in the church for years but I do not think it was beneficial to stick with it. It is a little different with the KJV and the 1650 Psalter because we can still understand it but honestly, some people have difficulty. I do not count myself in that crowd but if we invite someone over for supper and ask them to stay for family worship (as we do frequently with coworkers and neighbors), are our guests going to be excited that one can sing the Psalms, or are they going to incorrectly think we are some sort of Roman Catholic medieval cult and be completely turned off from any talk of our beliefs? I just want to make a well-rounded consideration.

Sometimes, I wish I knew the Psalms in this way; I often find it difficult to remember the words of a Psalm without remembering the tune, or to sing a Psalm to any tune other than the tune I've matched to it.
I do too and as I said earlier, I can memorize words and tunes independently far easier than my wife can, and I want to be considerate of her as well.

Personally, I find it less easy to follow the meaning of a Psalm when it's meshed together with a tune.
I agree, I really enjoy the split-leaf psalter for two reasons: I can more easily use a different tune to keep it "fresh" and to help us to really pay attention to the words, and it is much easier to follow the words when they are in versified form rather than spread out over notes.

As to history, I recently read through "The Story of the Psalters" which was very well done and covered the history of every psalter the author could find, as well as something of an encyclopedia of all of them listing how they translated the first stanza of Psalm 1 and Psalm 23.

My understanding is that the Westminster Assembly wanted to use Rous' psalter as a basis and modified it and presented it for use. The Scots then took that modification and spent the next two or three years modifying it further, sending it around to churches etc until it was quite a bit different. One could argue that it stuck around because it was so good, but one could also argue that the Scots were pretty stubborn. I'm not saying that is the case but it's a possibility. The 1912 Psalter has been around a while now with no signs of leaving in many of the PRC churches but that doesn't necessarily mean it's the best!

One last thing. It's arguable that one should use the AV and the 1650 because they will continue to be relevant. This is possible and I'm sure there will continue to be people who print both a long time from now, whether for tradition's sake or for more firm beliefs I do not know. Them continuing to be in print is a good point. I have doubts that "Sing Psalms" will be in print 20 years from now, for example.

However, it could be argued that they are already out of date, and I don't want to lose sight of the fact that just because I enjoy them and can use them for my benefit, that this is not the case for everyone. Yes, every difficulty can be surmounted but perhaps it isn't necessary. I like some aspects of the BoPfW and I also have some theological problems with the approach that I hope to write to Synod about. But having new versions of the psalters doesn't bother me, it shows people are still excited about the Psalms and think they are relevant for today. New psalters don't necessarily contribute to disunity (one could argue that the 1650 disunified Psalm singers who were using Sternhold and Hopkins). But I do admit that the idea of sticking to one for a couple hundred years (even one that has already been used a couple hundred years) is very appealing :)
 

Logan

Puritan Board Junior
In the above post I linked to a book (it is available on Google Books) that was very interesting. The author talked about the history of various psalters and it gave me more of a complete idea of what was going on. The author indicates that many psalters just were not that good because there had been no significant poetry since Chaucer, he specifically cites two examples of Sternhold and Hopkins and some of their poetry (and others who contributed to that psalter). Obviously the second one is not from the Psalter but from the Athanasian Creed, but it gives an idea of what was considered "acceptable" verse:

"Why doost withdrawe Thy hand aback,
And hide it in Thy lappe?
O plucke it out, and be not slack
To give Thy foes a rappe!"
"The Father God is, God the Son,
God Holy Spirit also,
Yet there are not three Gods in all,
But one God, and no mo."
I got the impression that when Rous' psalter came around and then the 1650 (though really only about 10% of Rous remained once the Scots finished), that it really was a vast improvement over previous editions and that the authors were justified in their claim that it was "...more plaine, smooth and agreeable to the Text than any heretofore...". And in comparison to much of what when before, it really did "runneth with such a fluent sweetness"!

Interestingly, David Silversides mentions Baxter and some other people writing in support of the 1650 psalter make a big deal of Baxter's support, saying he never agreed with anything but he did say that this psalter was "the best which we have seen." However, that apparently didn't stop him from trying to write his own metrical psalter :)

Some very, very godly men worked on it (I don't want to downplay that) and it has proven to be very accurate throughout (I don't know if anyone has done an actual study or comparison to Scripture or not). But I didn't get the impression that the men behind it thought that it was the final psalter (in fact, psalters were continually being modified, improved, and rewritten up to this time). They were satisfied with their work but I didn't get the idea that they thought the work should stop.

I always try to remember that correlation does not equal causation. The 1650 psalter was used for hundreds of years and is a very good psalter but is it the best? There are many good reasons to use it, but I would not use it simply because that's what has been most commonly used. If the Scots had stuck with Sternhold and Hopkins, perhaps that is what Scottish Presbyterians would have been using for the last four hundred and fifty years. Would there be the same amount of love for that now as for the 1650? Probably not, but I don't know.
 

THE W

Puritan Board Freshman
Wade,
I'm sure you can think of your own reasons. But songs we learn when we are young stick with us forever. I would very much like to have my children be able to sing the Psalms and recall any of them at will. I want that for myself as well. Music touches our souls in a special place, and what better music to have in our hearts than God's inspired words? Calvin called the psalms an "anatomy of the soul" and that they were in effect a mini-Bible.
Correct,

But what i'm curious about is why it would be necessary or important for someone to be able to recite the words of the psalms word for word off the top of their head(if that's truly what you mean by "memorize")? Do you believe that one must be able to do this to gain understanding of the principles of the psalms and apply those principles to their lives and know more about who the LORD is through his revelation?

I'm not trying to tell you how to teach your kids, I'm simply asking why this would be an important thing for your kids to be able to do.
 

Logan

Puritan Board Junior
Wade,
Certainly not necessary and I'm not going to judge anyone who doesn't. But desirable? From this man's standpoint I can't stress it enough: highly!

If you ever have been in a trying or difficult situation and had Psalm 20 rolling off your tongue in prayer to God, I'm sure you would understand the blessing of having words and not just general principles. Out of curiousity, have you been singing psalms long?
 

Tirian

Puritan Board Sophomore
Get your kids (and yourselves) into Sons of Korah. I can almost guaruntee you will remember more of the Psalms than using any of the Psalters as your kids will want to listen to them all the time.

Added bonus - your kids can *just about* follow along in their NIV's as it is so close.
 

THE W

Puritan Board Freshman
Wade,
Certainly not necessary and I'm not going to judge anyone who doesn't. But desirable? From this man's standpoint I can't stress it enough: highly!

If you ever have been in a trying or difficult situation and had Psalm 20 rolling off your tongue in prayer to God, I'm sure you would understand the blessing of having words and not just general principles. Out of curiosity, have you been singing psalms long?
Dude i havent been a christian long. I've been attending church since i was 9 but was a nominal christian until around May of last year when the LORD extended his mercy to my wretched sinful state.

I get just as much out of the psalms as you do even though i would never be able to recite any of them word for word. As long as i understand what they're saying to me and can at least know what someone is referring to when they mention a certain psalm that's good enough for me. I can't recite ephesians 5:25-29 but i know what its saying and if someone wants to know what the role of the husband is that's the passage i use. same with john 6 and romans 8 and 9 when defending the doctrine of grace AKA "calvinism".

my original comment question comes from thinking that it wouldn't be practical for anyone to memorize the psalms through the psalter word for word since everything is rearranged to be poetic and for metre. i would imagine that problem is gonna be consistent no matter what psalter you use.
 

Logan

Puritan Board Junior
Wade,
I was just curious, I was not trying to downplay you at all. Please accept my apologies if you felt that way.

As for memorizing, it's actually much easier to memorize in meter and especially when it is tied to a tune. It would be extremely daunting for me to attempt the whole book of psalms without music. For a while my practice was to pick a psalm selection and sing through it just once every evening for about a week. I'd have the words down in about that time. There's at least one family in my congregation that has done this as their children were growing up and can sing just about every selection without words I believe.

I don't know, if we're going to be singing them in family worship, why not make it a goal to also memorize them while doing that? Seems like it would be very helpful. The psalms are probably easier to do that than any other book (because of being set to music) and it's arguable they would be more helpful to have memorized than any other book.

Again, I'm not saying everyone should do this, but I want to. So I'm evaluating which one we want to do.
 

THE W

Puritan Board Freshman
Wade,
I was just curious, I was not trying to downplay you at all. Please accept my apologies if you felt that way.

As for memorizing, it's actually much easier to memorize in meter and especially when it is tied to a tune. It would be extremely daunting for me to attempt the whole book of psalms without music. For a while my practice was to pick a psalm selection and sing through it just once every evening for about a week. I'd have the words down in about that time. There's at least one family in my congregation that has done this as their children were growing up and can sing just about every selection without words I believe.

I don't know, if we're going to be singing them in family worship, why not make it a goal to also memorize them while doing that? Seems like it would be very helpful. The psalms are probably easier to do that than any other book (because of being set to music) and it's arguable they would be more helpful to have memorized than any other book.

Again, I'm not saying everyone should do this, but I want to. So I'm evaluating which one we want to do.
no problem sir. I just looked down at your sig and see that you are a Church officer serving as deacon. i deeply apologize if you feel I am disrecptfully confronting you in any way on your choice to memorize the book of psalms. I just wanted to know the importance and motivation behind it and you have made that pretty clear.

thank you for your responses deacon.
 

Logan

Puritan Board Junior
Thanks Wade. I hope you are encouraged as you sing the psalms too. Singing them has made much more of a difference in my life than just reading them.

By the way, I don't think being a deacon means anything here, especially as we are members of different congregations. I think of myself more as a voluntary grunt than anything else and you're welcome to confront me :)
 

TexanRose

Puritan Board Sophomore
Regarding Psalm 136--in the 1650 Psalter, where there are two versions of a psalm, the first version is almost always* the most accurate. This is why sometimes the common meter version will be the first, and sometimes the alternate meter. Some of the second versions are quite acceptable, but others are (frankly) not nearly as accurate, and I know a few people who won't sing them.

I believe those second versions were included despite their flaws because they had been around for a while (pre-dating the 1650) and were popular favorites.

*The one exception to this rule is Psalm 100, where (I'm told) the second version is actually the most accurate.
 

Logan

Puritan Board Junior
In this case, I agree the first version of Psalm 136 is most accurate, but I still wonder why they thought it was appropriate even in that version to use the negative form of expression (for his grace faileth never) in addition to the positive (for mercy hath he ever). Maybe it is appropriate, but it still seems odd.

Also interestingly, J.C.K. Milligan (writing around 1900) seemed to indicate that the church of Scotland was approached about a new version of the Psalms and while they recognized their psalter's defects in language primarily, they decided to stick with it because it was already ingrained in their hearts and minds.
 

Logan

Puritan Board Junior
Thanks to my pastor, I was able to take a look at some old versions of the RPCNA psalters, specifically the 1889 split-leaf, the 1911 revision, 1920, 1929, and 1950 revisions (though the 1911, 1920 and 1929 seemed to primarily music revisions, even the preface remained the same).

Most interesting to me was the discussion in the preface of the 1889 psalter that talked about the work they were doing. This is probably best laid out in the preface to the 1911 version. Essentially it was the 1650 scottish psalter with minor revisions to make it more singable (the 1911 psalter kept the entirety of the Scottish psalter as the first selection, with minor revision, and then added additional selections). For example, Psalm 1 is identical except for stanza 3 which was altered to read:
He shall be like a planted tree
The water-course beside,
Which in its season yields its fruit,
And green its leaves abide
And Psalm 2 is nearly identical except for the awkward stanza 4 which now read
Yet I My King appointed have,
Upon My holy hill;
On Zion Mount His throne is set,
Established by My will.
This is what they had to say about their goals:
1. To remove imperfections in the metre, as far as possible, by slight verbal changes
a. Transposing words, or slightly modifying the expression to secure the right accent (examples listed)
b. Supplying a wanting syllable, of which there is a multitude of instances (examples listed)
2. To recast the entire stanza, where serious defect could not otherwise be remedied.
a. This has been done in eliminating awkward double rhymes, and other serious defects of metre (examples listed)
b. In two instances, a single stanza of the old version has been expanded into two stanzas, to supply omissions (Ps. 51:11,12; and 135:1,2)
c. In many cases two stanzas of the old version have been condensed into one, or a number of consecutive stanzas have been recast in order to remove unnecessary additions (examples listed)
3. To secure greater accuracy in the use of the names of the Divine Being, and of the specific designations of the Law of God.
a. The various terms found in Psalm 119, "law," "statutes," "precepts," "commandments," "testimonies," etc., are in both versions used with scrupulous accuracy. No little difficulty was encountered in securing this desirable end, with the hampering limitations of metrical feet and rhyme.
b. The Divine Name has been inserted in every instance in which it was omitted---fifty in all.
c. The Divine Name has been omitted in all cases in which it had been inserted when not in the original. All the more careful attention has been given to this point as other versions---except the New England Psalter---seem to have disregarded it altogether. Take a single Psalm for illustration : In the old version of Psalm 119, the name "God" is introduced twice, and the name "Lord" nineteen times.
d. The Divine Name is kept in its proper connection. In a few instances only was this change necessary. See Psalm 119:107,108
e. The exact name of the Divine Being is indicated in every instance. As far as possible, the name "Jehovah" is retained. When the introduction of the original word would weaken the line, it has been translated "Lord," and the word is printed in capitals to indicate to the English reader that it represents the covenant name; "Lord" in small letters represents uniformly the Hebrew "Adonai"; and "God" stands for the Hebrew names "El," "Eloai" and "Elohim." The pronouns that represent the Divine Being are printed with an initial capital.
The third section, about the Divine Name interested me. I assume they mean YHWH? Does anyone have any information on what they talk about when they say it was omitted in the Scottish psalter? Not putting it in caps? i.e., Lord vs LORD?

There is a text-only version available on Google Books, though the preface in the split-leaf version was considerably longer and had more of the history of the committee.
http://books.google.com/books?id=Wv5EAAAAYAAJ&printsec=frontcover#v=onepage&q&f=false
 

Afterthought

Puritan Board Senior
Logan said:
Unfortunately this is hard to avoid all the time but in this particular case, someone listening, memorizing, or even reading without paying careful attention to punctuation might just assume that "he" is coming before the Lord to judge the earth. Which is strange, to say the least.
I'm having difficulty seeing this. In fact, I read and re-read what you said when you first posted this here and in the other thread, but I finally only just got what you were saying. Do you have any evidence that one might think that about this psalm? Has this actually happened, or is this just a thought experiment? I would think that ordinary English, even without the semicolon would cause one to associate the pronoun with whatever noun was nearest it.

For myself, the only "difficulty" I've ever had with that particular break was remembering the thought from the previous stanza connecting to the thought in the next. Though really, the more often I've sung it, the less tricky it becomes to the point it becomes unnoticeable (and it doesn't take that many times singing it for that to occur either; kind of like the "awkward" pauses I heard in CDs of Scottish singing of psalms, but which after listening to a few times no longer sounded awkward but quite nice). But I guess I would think that; since that wasn't my criticism but that of others.


Yet I My King appointed have,
Upon My holy hill;
On Zion Mount His throne is set,
Established by My will.
Just saying, so far as I can recall I've actually never found that stanza awkward.


The third section, about the Divine Name interested me. I assume they mean YHWH? Does anyone have any information on what they talk about when they say it was omitted in the Scottish psalter? Not putting it in caps? i.e., Lord vs LORD?
I don't know the answer to this, but since they mentioned the New England version, I wonder if it was an indifference to synonymous manners of referring to God that ended up with the "omission" of the Divine Name?

"Synonyms we use indifferently: as folk for people, and Lord for Jehovah, and sometimes (though seldom) God for Jehovah; for which (as for some other interpretations of places cited in the New Testament) we have the scripture’s authority Ps. 14 with 53. Heb. 1:6. with Psalm 97:7."

Preface to the Bay Psalm Book (1640)
 
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Logan

Puritan Board Junior
I'm having difficulty seeing this. In fact, I read and re-read what you said when you first posted this here and in the other thread, but I finally only just got what you were saying. Do you have any evidence that one might think that about this psalm? Has this actually happened, or is this just a thought experiment?
Sure, this is a thought experiment, but the point was (as you said) that it's a bit awkward remembering the thought from the previous stanza. Here's another example: Just the other night I was reading the metrical Psalm 2 to my wife and she said she's never understand why "vain things" was in there, she could understand "vain" but why "vain things". She had listened and sung this line for years:
Why rage the heathen? and vain things
why do the people mind?
Since she could not "hear" the question mark, she always connected "vain things" to the heathen raging, and the second line "why do the people mind" as standalone.

And I understand that anything can become less tricky the more one uses it or becomes accustomed to it. I'm quite sure I could pick up chanting through the prose psalms if I practiced, but is it worth it?


Yet I My King appointed have,
Upon My holy hill;
On Zion Mount His throne is set,
Established by My will.
Just saying, so far as I can recall I've actually never found that stanza awkward.
That was the "corrected" stanza from the RP psalter of 1889, are you saying you've never found singing this stanza from the 1650 awkward?
Yet, notwithstanding, I have him
to be my King appointed;
And over Sion, my holy hill,
I have him King anointed.
If so, then you may be the only one :) There's three instances in there of double-syllables that need to be combined into single-syllables.


I don't know the answer to this, but since they mentioned the New England version, I wonder if it was an indifference to synonymous manners of referring to God that ended up with the "omission" of the Divine Name?

"Synonyms we use indifferently: as folk for people, and Lord for Jehovah, and sometimes (though seldom) God for Jehovah; for which (as for some other interpretations of places cited in the New Testament) we have the scripture’s authority Ps. 14 with 53. Heb. 1:6. with Psalm 97:7."
I think they were referring to the way that the SMV makes no distinction or consistency. For example, in Psalm 110 the SMV has "The Lord did say unto my Lord," whereas this 1889 changed it to "Jehovah said unto my Lord", though in other places they have just used "LORD", but preferred "Jehovah" when it could be spelled out and fit the meter. Interesting that our more recent BoPfW went back to "LORD" and "Lord" and tried to eliminate "Jehovah".

In Psalm 110, see verse 2, and 4 where the Divine Name is used (KJV: LORD) and verse 5 where just "Lord" is used. The SMV makes no distinction between them, using "Lord" in each instance.
 

Afterthought

Puritan Board Senior
Logan said:
Sure, this is a thought experiment, but the point was (as you said) that it's a bit awkward remembering the thought from the previous stanza.
Well, if you agree, it might be better to focus the criticism on what is real, rather than what is hypothetical, and what seems an unlikely hypothetical at that! One thing about any sort of poetry though, is that both in singing and reading, one should learn to use the proper inflections (though in singing with a congregation, it can be significantly more difficult to accomplish), since such is meant to be heard. If one does not inflect properly, it can cause confusion; whereas if one does it properly, none usually results, though there will always be people who will require some accustoming to the technique. As was noted by Ruben, enjambment is a perfectly acceptable poetical technique that we find in English, and so this would actually be an example of the poetic quality of the SMV that is so often derided! (Note: I'm not saying such shouldn't be considered for revision, but just that I find this particular criticism fairly weak)


Logan said:
And I understand that anything can become less tricky the more one uses it or becomes accustomed to it. I'm quite sure I could pick up chanting through the prose psalms if I practiced, but is it worth it?
I don't think the emphasis of the point I made was clear. I was putting emphasis on how little effort it takes to become accustomed to such. But anyway, I don't think the "chanting" reductio is fair, since we are discussing metrical psalms and it tends to make the one who uses it seem opposed to educating the illiterate, which we both know is not the case, and one could just as equally unfairly say that the other should make translations be in the spoken language of the average illiterate person so that they can understand it without a single stumble, or so that we end up with "praise chorus" and the most hip and modern CCM type of language or the sort of language found in popular paraphrases of the Bible.

I sometimes wonder whether people have different tolerances for how much effort they will put into their education, such that they may or may not notice the amount of effort required; for some, one stumble means the translation is not good enough; for others, many stumbles are to be learned and overcome, perhaps unconsciously so that some of the stumbles are not really noticed. (As one who is a student of things in which most people give up on, I probably have a fairly high tolerance.) We certainly have a "laziness" principle in us, in which if we can get the same results by doing less, we certainly will. So it would seem such a statement presupposes at the very least the equality of another available translation that may be subjectively easier to use (since "ease of use" seems to vary person by person, and seems to vary with their tolerance of learning). In which case, the question turns into one over accuracy/unity/translation bias/translation quality, etc., which in turn gets back to the nigh impossibility of agreeing on translation principles. So it seems. But all this is to say, I don't think appealing to chanting, or that we could learn the read the Bible in Hebrew, etc. as all that helpful in these sorts of discussions.



And yes, I was referring to the SMV rendering of Psalm 2. I doubt I'm alone, but I can give no evidence except what I know of myself. I do know that it is a common technique in traditional hymns to combine several syllables into one, or expand one into several. It really isn't that difficult to get used to, but then, I grew up singing traditional-ish hymns. Stating that such is awkward in the SMV almost goes against traditional hymns too, and I wouldn't be surprised if those in favor of CCM have used such a statement before, but I say "almost" because many traditional hymns are now found in hymn books in which the musical notation makes it obvious not only which syllables are to be shrunk or expanded, but with what notes such is to be done with. (Note again though: I'm not opposed to doing what one can to get each syllable associated with one note in some future revision, since the extra syllables effectively makes many stanzas of many psalms not exactly in C.M.; I'm just saying that such is not really a big deal; and in this case, I was merely giving anecdotal evidence that it isn't awkward universally such that there is at least one person who didn't even think that such was an awkward thing to overcome)


In Psalm 110, see verse 2, and 4 where the Divine Name is used (KJV: LORD) and verse 5 where just "Lord" is used. The SMV makes no distinction between them, using "Lord" in each instance.
I've frequently wondered about that. It would have been such an easy thing to have done, since one could just use the capitals. Indeed, it is such an easy thing to fix that I was strongly tempted to do such in the ebook version of the 1650 I've been working on, but aside from being a mere individual and the potential outcry (which is important to consider; having spoken with those who use the 1650, it is obvious there is much division among the populace concerning whether to revise or keep certain parts of the 1650, or certain tunes used with it), I don't know Hebrew and so would not feel safe in doing it except in the obvious cases like Psalm 110, and the AV is only so helpful here. But capitals can't be seen in reading or singing anyway.
 

Logan

Puritan Board Junior
As was noted by Ruben, enjambment is a perfectly acceptable poetical technique that we find in English, and so this would actually be an example of the poetic quality of the SMV that is so often derided!
I'm pretty sure it's different when the thought is broken over stanzas. At the very least not ideal.

I've said it before and I'll say it again: I realize that any difficulty can be surmounted and I do not personally struggle with the SMV. But if difficulties can be removed without sacrificing accuracy, why not? I'm not content to say "I learned to deal with the problems so you should too" and leave it at that.

As an aside, I've done a version of the SMV for the Kindle (included in a "Westminster Standards" compilation) and would be happy to share that with you if you'd find it helpful. I have it in html format right now I believe.
 

Afterthought

Puritan Board Senior
The enjambment comment was referring to examples within a stanza. Sorry for the confusion.

Of course, there are other considerations besides accuracy and when the "difficulties" aren't all that difficult to surmount, those other considerations--when accuracy is equal between translations--may make one decide to use a more difficult translation for one purpose or another. But certainly, and someone here more learned and wise correct me if I'm wrong, all other things being equal, it is more desirable to use something that requires less effort.

I appreciate the offer, but it is about a year and a half too late! I've had it in html form and carefully compared with public domain versions so as not to run into copyright issues for quite some time now. It's the other stuff in the ebook that has slowed down its publishing, along with my schooling and other matters, but it is just about ready now.
 

MW

Puritanboard Amanuensis
But if difficulties can be removed without sacrificing accuracy, why not? I'm not content to say "I learned to deal with the problems so you should too" and leave it at that.
"Difficulties" and "problems" are two different concepts.

Why not? Perhaps one might "consider the brethren" who have spent a lifetime worshipping the Lord in the words of this version, have overcome the difficulties without seeing them as a problem, and do not now have the strength to start all over again in order to please the fashion gurus.
 

Logan

Puritan Board Junior
But if difficulties can be removed without sacrificing accuracy, why not? I'm not content to say "I learned to deal with the problems so you should too" and leave it at that.
"Difficulties" and "problems" are two different concepts.

Why not? Perhaps one might "consider the brethren" who have spent a lifetime worshipping the Lord in the words of this version, have overcome the difficulties without seeing them as a problem, and do not now have the strength to start all over again in order to please the fashion gurus.
Rev. Winzer,

Respectfully, I'm not trying to pick a fight, I am posting my own thoughts, I don't think that makes me a "fashion guru". "Considering the brethren" is something I try to be very conscientious about.
 

Tirian

Puritan Board Sophomore
Perhaps one might "consider the brethren" who have spent a lifetime worshipping the Lord in the words of this version, have overcome the difficulties without seeing them as a problem, and do not now have the strength to start all over again in order to please the fashion gurus.
There is a good post from Mike Leake on being "backwards compatible" just out today that I think adds pastoral weight to this. Backwards Compatible Church - Borrowed Light
 
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