Authorized Metrical Psalter in English Canon?

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ChristopherPaul

Puritan Board Senior
Today I received the Bible I ordered from Trinitarian Bible Society. It is very nice with the Scottish metrical Psalter appended in the back. It is very helpful that the words can be sung to any metrical tune.

As I was looking over the Psalter the question came to my mind: why not simply insert the metrical Psalter as the book of Psalms in the middle of the Bible? Is the Psalter not considered an accurate translation of the Psalms?
 

Croghanite

Puritan Board Sophomore
can you give a link to the bible you purchased? thanks.

(nevernind, I see how you can add the psalms in the back... uh huh thats awesome)
 

VirginiaHuguenot

Puritanboard Librarian
We use KJV's w/ the metrical psalter in the back as pew Bibles in our church and I have used them in private devotions for years. They are a real blessing to enable one to both read and sing God's Word from a single book.

Yes, the metrical Psalter is indeed God's Word and is considered such by those who utilize it appended to the Bible or as a stand-alone book. It is a translation of the Psalms in meter, as opposed to a translation of the Psalms which is not in meter. The Psalms were meant to be read as well as sung.

Psalm Versification, W. E. McCulloch, in The Psalms in Worship, ed. John McNaugher:

To transfer in metrical form the thought and spirit of the Psalter into the languages of other peoples has been the task of Christian scholarship for hundreds of years. The Psalms, wholly or in part, have been versified in the languages of all nations where the gospel of Christ has found a place.

The best Puritan divines saw the 1650 Scottish metrical psalter as a masterpiece of translation:

The title page bears the words: The Psalms of David In Meeter. Newly Translated and diligently compared with the Original Text, and former Translations: More plain, smooth and agreeable to the Text, than any heretofore.”
...
But then ’tis meet that these divine composures should be represented to us in a fit translation, lest we want David, in David; while his holy ecstasies are delivered in a flat and bald expression. The translation which is now put into thy hands cometh nearest to the original of any that we have seen, and runneth with such a fluent sweetness, that we thought fit to recommend it to thy Christian acceptance; some of us having used it already, with great comfort and satisfaction.

Preface to the Bay Psalm Book

As for the scruple that some take at the translation of the Book of Psalms into metre, because David’s psalms were sung in his own words without metre: we answer—First, there are many verses together in several psalms of David which run in rhythms (as those that know Hebrew and as Buxtorf shows Thesau. pa. 629.) which shows at least the lawfulness of singing psalms in English rhythms.

Secondly, the psalms are penned in such verses as are suitable to the poetry of the Hebrew language, and not in the common style of such other books of the Old Testament as are not poetical; now no Protestant doubts but that all the books of scripture should by God’s ordinance be extant in the mother tongue of each nation, that they may be understood of all, hence the psalms are to be translated into our English tongue; and in it our English tongue we are to sing them, then as all our English songs (according to the course of our English poetry) do run in metre, so ought David’s psalms to be translated into metre, that so we may sing the Lord’s songs, as in our English tongue so in such verses as are familiar to an English ear which are commonly metrical: and as it can be no just offense to any good conscience to sing David’s Hebrew songs in English words, so neither to sing his poetical verses in English poetical metre: men might as well stumble at singing the Hebrew psalms in our English tunes (and not in the Hebrew tunes) as at singing them in English metre, (which are our verses) and not in such verses as are generally used by David according to the poetry of the Hebrew language: but the truth is, as the Lord has hid from us the Hebrew tunes, lest we should think ourselves bound to imitate them; so also the course and frame (for the most part) of their Hebrew poetry, that we might not think ourselves bound to imitate that, but that every nation without scruple might follow as the grave sort of tunes of their own country songs, so the graver sort of verses of their own country poetry.

Neither let any think, that for the metre sake we have taken liberty or poetical license to depart from the true and proper sense of David’s words in the Hebrew verses, no; but it has been one part of our religious care and faithful endeavour, to keep close to the original text.

Dr. John Ker said:

No version has ever been made which adheres so closely to the Scripture. It proceeds of the principle of giving every thought in the original, and nothing more; and in this it has succeeded to an extent which is marvellous, and which can be realised only by one who has tested it through careful comparison ... those portions which the heart feels that it needs in its sorrowful hours, over which it leans and pores in its deep musings, or from the summits of which it mounts as on eagles’ wings in its moments of joy, have a tenderness, a quaint beauty, a majesty in their form, peculiar to that age of the English language in which they were framed.
 

ChristopherPaul

Puritan Board Senior
Yes, the metrical Psalter is indeed God's Word and is considered such by those who utilize it appended to the Bible or as a stand-alone book. It is a translation of the Psalms in meter, as opposed to a translation of the Psalms which is not in meter. The Psalms were meant to be read as well as sung.


Could you further clarify the part I emphasized above?

The Psalms were meant to be read as well as sung, but I can read the meter version as well as sing it, so why the difference? In the original text, there was only one version and that was in meter which could be read or sung. So would it not be more accurate to only include the Psalms in meter version instead of appending it to the back? I guess I am just wondering why the two when both are considered accurate translations, yet the Psalms in meter are more true to the original intent.
 
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