Is the 1650 Scottish Psalter a Paraphrase Comparable to the NLT?

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Dearly Bought

Puritan Board Junior
On another thread which excludes EP responses according to the OP, the following argument was stated:

One of the practical difficulties of the EP position (stated previously as"The Psalms are inspired, infallible, inerrant and God's only Heaven-sent Praise Book") is that the Psalms that are sung are effectively paraphrases of the Hebrew Psalms - ie to put them in a metrical / rhyming form to sing with Western tonal scales requires the text to be altered. I dearly love the Scottish Metrical Psalms but I am not blind to the fact that they paraphrases (and therefore not to be treated directly as 'infallible and inerrant' as they would be closer to an NLT than an ESV ! ).
I would like to challenge this common assumption. I've taken the texts of Psalm 1 in the Authorized Version, the Scottish Metrical Version, and the New Living Translation and laid them alongside each other. Is the Scottish Metrical Version truly a paraphrase comparable to the New Living Translation?

View attachment 1970

Here are two particular observations from my brief comparison:
  1. Contrary to both the KJV and the SMV, the NLT completely obfuscates the ultimate reference of this Psalm to Christ by changing every reference to a gender-neutral plural.
  2. Contrary to both the KJV and the SMV, the NLT eliminates the reference to the "assembly" or "congregation" of the righteous.

One of these things is not like the others...


Puritan Board Freshman
Responding to the objection “That we have no good metrical translation of the Psalms” the authors of The True Psalmody answer:

“I. Let those who think we have no good metrical translation of the Psalms improve some of the versions in use, or make a better one. It is surely easier to make a good translation of God’s psalms than to compose songs better than those which He has made. 2. It is better to sing, in divine worship, an imperfect translation of those songs which God has composed, than to sing the best songs which men can make. 3. We have a good metrical translation of the Psalms. There are in the Scottish version of the Psalms, it is true, some blemishes. It contains some uncouth forms of expression, and some words which are now obsolete; and its versification, in many instances, is far from being smooth. But, for the most part, both the phraseology and the versification are very good; and it must be allowed by those who have examined it, that its fidelity to the original Hebrew is not much, if at all, inferior to that of the prose translation of the Psalms in our English Bible.”
see a similar thread here at the EP website.


Puritan Board Freshman
I suppose i should clarify what I meant. By using the analogy of the ESV/NLT what I was referring to was the difference between a more literal approach and one where a degree of paraphrasing is used (eg being freer with word order and exact choice of words). I wasn't implying that The Scottish Metrical Psalter actually resembled the NLT (and I apologise if I gave that impression).

To give a an example of the 'freeness' necessary to render the Psalms into a form able to be sung to Western music, one can compare the two version of Psalm 100 in the Psalter.

I'm not saying that this is not a good metrical rendering of the Psalter merely that such a metrical rendering is a bit freer with the text.
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