Coverdale's psalms

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Puritan Board Freshman
I've been reading Miles Coverdale's translation of the psalms (the one that used to be printed at the back of the Book of Common Prayer). My impression is that his translation is regarded as being of great sylistic excellence (per CS Lewis), but rather lacking in accuracy. (I seem to remember that Coverdale didn't know Hebrew and translated mostly from the Vulgate.) Is my impression correct, or am I doing Coverdale a disservice? Bemer


Tempus faciendi, Domine.
Thanks for drawing my attention to this. I'll have to now take a look at Coverdale.

According to this page, the Coverdale translation is based on Luther's version and the Latin Vulgate.

Opening information on the above page:

Coverdale's translation of the Psalms (based on Luther's version and the Latin Vulgate) have a particular importance in the history of the English Bible. This Psalter, as revised by Coverdale himself for the Great Bible, continued to be used in the Church of England's Book of Common Prayer up until the late twentieth century. For many Anglicans and Episcopalians the words of Coverdale's version are more familiar and beloved than any other translation of the Scriptures. Others are familiar with some of Coverdale's renderings through Handel's Messiah, which in several places uses the Prayer Book Psalter instead of the King James version. Below are the first 25 Psalms as they appeared in the Book of Common Prayer.

NOTE: The traditional Latin title for each Psalm is derived from its opening words in the Vulgate. The colons inserted in the middle of each verse are there to indicate the parts which may be recited responsively in the worship service.

Psalm 1.
Beatus vir, qui non abiit, &c.

BLESSED is the man that hath not walked in the counsel of the ungodly, nor stood in the way of sinners : and hath not sat in the seat of the scornful.
2. But his delight is in the law of the Lord : and in his law will he exercise himself day and night.
3. And he shall be like a tree planted by the water-side : that will bring forth his fruit in due season.
4. His leaf also shall not wither : and look, whatsoever he doeth, it shall prosper.
5. As for the ungodly, it is not so with them : but they are like the chaff, which the wind scattereth away from the face of the earth.
6. Therefore the ungodly shall not be able to stand in the judgment : neither the sinners in the congregation of the righteous.
7. But the Lord knoweth the way of the righteous : and the way of the ungodly shall perish.


Puritan Board Freshman

Wayne: Thank you for this useful background information. I hadn't thought about Luther having an influence on Coverdale's translation.
Presbyterian USA


Puritan Board Graduate
Coverdale's translation is actually just an edit and completion of Tyndale's translation. Whatever Tyndale himself had left undone at his martyrdom was translated and the rest simply edited by Coverdale. Coverdale's Bible later served as a basis for the AV.


Puritan Board Graduate
This quote applies to me in spades:
For many Anglicans and Episcopalians the words of Coverdale's version are more familiar and beloved than any other translation of the Scriptures.
We chanted the day's psalms every sunday rain or shine - the order for morning and evening worship works through the entire psalter every calendar month - which does graft them into the heart and mind.
In spite of the bias that may have given, I truly think stylistically and in beauty Coverdale's psalter has the edge even over the AV.
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