AV and 1650 Psalter Translations of some Psalms, John Brown's note

Discussion in 'Translations and Manuscripts' started by Afterthought, Nov 24, 2011.

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  1. Afterthought

    Afterthought Puritan Board Junior

    I came across four questions of translation in the 1650 Scottish Psalter when compared with the AV. I was hoping someone could help me see why they would be considered acceptable translations (if they are) if it's possible for a person without a knowledge of Hebrew (like myself) to understand the translation choices? From what I understand, in most cases where words appear to be added or repeated the translators were merely trying to "draw out" more of the Hebrew (whatever that means), but I was curious about these specific instances.

    Firstly, Psalm 100. The LM version in the 1650 reads:

    "1 All people that on earth do dwell,
    Sing to the Lord with cheerful voice.
    2 Him serve with mirth, his praise forth tell,
    Come ye before him and rejoice.

    3 Know that the Lord is God indeed;
    Without our aid he did us make:
    We are his flock, he doth us feed,
    And for his sheep he doth us take.

    4 O enter then his gates with praise,
    Approach with joy his courts unto:
    Praise, laud, and bless his name always,
    For it is seemly so to do.

    5 For why? the Lord our God is good,
    His mercy is for ever sure;
    His truth at all times firmly stood,
    And shall from age to age endure

    Compared with the AV:
    "1Make a joyful noise unto the LORD, all ye lands.

    2Serve the LORD with gladness: come before his presence with singing.

    3Know ye that the LORD he is God: it is he that hath made us, and not we ourselves; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture.

    4Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise: be thankful unto him, and bless his name.

    5For the LORD is good; his mercy is everlasting; and his truth endureth to all generations."

    In general, the metrical version certainly seems to be adding much in order to be wordy enough to fit the meter. But I'm guessing that the reasons for much of the apparently added bolded portions are the same, so I ask specifically about the apparently added "For it is seemly so to do" and the apparent repetition "His truth at all times firmly stood, And shall from age to age endure." Are these fair translations from the Hebrew?

    Secondly, Psalm 92. The metrical version reads:

    "3On a ten-stringed instrument,
    upon the psaltery,
    And on the harp with solemn sound,
    and grave sweet melody.

    The AV reads: "3Upon an instrument of ten strings, and upon the psaltery; upon the harp with a solemn sound."

    Along with it apparently being a repetition, how is "grave sweet melody" a fair translation?

    Thirdly, later in Psalm 92. The metrical version reads:

    "13Those that within the house of God
    are planted by his grace,
    They shall grow up, and flourish all
    in our God's holy place."

    The AV reads: "Those that be planted in the house of the LORD shall flourish in the courts of our God."

    Is the apparent addition of the word "grace" a fair translation (and how is it one if it is)?

    Fourthly, Psalm 84. The metrical version reads:

    "3 Behold, the sparrow findeth out
    an house wherein to rest;
    The swallow also for herself
    hath purchased a nest;

    Ev'n thine own altars,* where she safe
    her young ones forth may bring,
    O thou almighty Lord of hosts,
    who art my God and King."

    John Brown makes a note: "* To me it is inconceivable, how sparrows or swallows could fix their nests in the altars of God, which were of brass or rough stones, and had a fire perpetually burning upon them, and multitudes of priests and Levites crowding around them. God did not allow of any trees to be planted near them; and I cannot believe God's tabernacle or temple was polluted with the nests and ordure of birds, in the manner of our ruinous churches. Nor can I see this idea answerable to the context, or scope of the psalm. Might not the verse be rather translated, "As the sparrow findeth the house, and the swallow the nest for herself, where she hath put her young ones, my soul findeth thine altars, O Lord of hosts, my King, and my God" i.e. with inexpressible ardour I long for, and desire them; and with ineffable pleasure I approach them, in order to intimate fellowship with my God. Compare ver. 1-2, 10 of this psalm, with Psalm 42:1-2; 43:3-4."

    And yet the AV reads similar to the metrical version: "3Yea, the sparrow hath found an house, and the swallow a nest for herself, where she may lay her young, even thine altars, O LORD of hosts, my King, and my God." Does John Brown have a point, or is the AV (and metrical) translation fine the way it is?

    Thanks for any help!
  2. louis_jp

    louis_jp Puritan Board Freshman

  3. MW

    MW Puritan Board Doctor

    They are not translations per se, but translations for the purpose of singing; and they are admittedly not perfect translations but the best that the reformation has given to us. Further reformation might bequeath an even better translation to the Reformed Church.

    The first version of Ps. 100 is older. The second version is far closer to the original.

    John Brown's note on Ps. 84 makes good sense, and it is worthwhile remembering that sense when reading or singing the words, but poetry is permitted a certain license and its imagery is not intended to be understood as an historical account.
  4. Afterthought

    Afterthought Puritan Board Junior

    Thanks! I was actually thinking about that article as I was posting the thread because it seemed to me these instances could not as easily be reconciled along the lines suggested in that article.

    Fair enough. But it does seem strange that some of the "looser" translations for singing are considered acceptable; I suppose it's similar (though not to the same degree) to how we could consider the NIV acceptable as a translation, although it is much more loosely translated? It seems to me though that there are so many additions made to the metrical version in order to fit the meter, that the words might fit the meter without most of them! But I'm sure the people who translated it knew what they were doing.... It does seem strange though that they didn't discard the "looser" Psalm 100 once they had a better one to use, which shows they saw that at least that level of "looseness" was considered acceptable enough to be used on a regular basis (I use the word "loose" for lack of a better word). I guess then that means (for layman like me who can only go on what's written in English) other similar "looseness" in modern Psalters or private translations of the Psalms for singing should be considered acceptable for use on a regular basis too.

    Thanks for your comments!
  5. TexanRose

    TexanRose Puritan Board Sophomore

    I have been told that in cases where there are two versions of a psalm, the first is almost always the most accurate, Psalm 100 being the one exception.

    I think we should try to use Psalters with less "looseness" in translation rather than more. I don't think that we should conclude that because the Scottish Psalter allows some looseness, all looseness is O.K.
  6. Afterthought

    Afterthought Puritan Board Junior

    Thanks for that useful info there! :up:

    And I agree that not all looseness is okay and that less looseness is desirable.
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