Psalm 117 in the Scottish Psalter

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W.C. Dean

Puritan Board Sophomore
Greetings brothers and sisters.

My favorite Psalter since I first starting singing the Psalms in private has been the 1650 Scottish Psalter. Primarily for its noteworthy accuracy. I think psalmody of any kind (especially EP) is worthless if our Psalters do not have a high emphasis on accuracy. Singability is important, but not as important as singing the Word of God. That being said I know there are a few less than ideal translations in the Scottish Psalter, but one I don't think I've seen mentioned is Psalm 117. Perhaps I'm missing something that's in the Hebrew?

1650 SMV:
O give ye praise unto the Lord,
all nations that be;
Likewise, ye people all, accord
his name to magnify.

For great to us-ward ever are
his loving-kindnesses:
His truth endures for evermore.
The Lord O do ye bless.

Scripture:

O praise the Lord, all ye nations: praise him, all ye people.https://holybible.com/psa.117.2
For his merciful kindness is great toward us: and the truth of the Lord endureth for ever. Praise ye the Lord.

In the Psalter a whole line is added in verse 1. Does this have any merit in the Hebrew?
 

Afterthought

Puritan Board Senior
In the Psalter a whole line is added in verse 1. Does this have any merit in the Hebrew?
I don't know about the Hebrew but looking at the English, I don't see anything added. "Likewise, ye people all, accord his name to magnify" is just a longer way of saying "praise him, all ye people." The "Likewise" is implicit. "accord his name to magnify" is a longer way to say "praise him."
 

W.C. Dean

Puritan Board Sophomore
I don't know about the Hebrew but looking at the English, I don't see anything added. "Likewise, ye people all, accord his name to magnify" is just a longer way of saying "praise him, all ye people." The "Likewise" is implicit. "accord his name to magnify" is a longer way to say "praise him."

I suppose so but these kinds of lengthening (or shortening) are exactly the reason I'm not a huge fan of the 1912 Psalter. It's rare in the 1650.
 

Reformed Covenanter

Puritanboard Commissioner
I think psalmody of any kind (especially EP) is worthless if our Psalters do not have a high emphasis on accuracy.

That assertion is something of an overstatement. An imperfect translation of the psalms for singing is still better than nothing. Critics of the regulative principle often make the mistake of assuming that it is a covenant of works that requires perfection in order for something to be accepted by God. But that idea is not what the regulative principle advocates. Instead, it requires an element to be authorised in order for it to be accepted; it does not require it to be performed perfectly; otherwise, no worship would ever be accepted, since our worship is never perfect.
 

Jake

Puritan Board Senior
That assertion is something of an overstatement. An imperfect translation of the psalms for singing is still better than nothing. Critics of the regulative principle often make the mistake of assuming that it is a covenant of works that requires perfection in order for something to be accepted by God. But that idea is not what the regulative principle advocates. Instead, it requires an element to be authorised in order for it to be accepted; it does not require it to be performed perfectly; otherwise, no worship would ever be accepted, since our worship is never perfect.

We have imperfect Bible translations. I'd say there are tradeoffs between all the Bible versions and decencies in each. Many languages have only one to work with, with various difficulties. This does not affect sola scriptura, but we should work towards better translations and improvements.

Sure the situation is more profound with Psalters, as it's hard to perfect a metrical version and different folks have different priorities, but it doesn't undermine the doctrine behind why we sing. I would use an NLT or an NRSV if that is all that were available even if it wasn't the best and they still teach the Gospel message; in the same way I will sing out of an imperfect Psalter if it is what a congregation uses. There are a few over-paraphrasic selections in the 1650 SMV even though I think it is the generally the closest translation available metrically.
 

W.C. Dean

Puritan Board Sophomore
Psalmody is worthless without an accurate Psalter is an overstatement, and I apologize. I guess I was just wondering if anyone here had felt the same way about the Scottish translation of Ps. 117. I feel uncomfortable singing certain Psalms in the 1912 Psalter because of embellishments or deletions similar to the one being discussed here, hence why I brought it up
 

Logan

Puritan Board Junior
I've found a few instances myself, where the 1650's translation makes me scratch my head a bit. I suspect that if you objectively dug deeply into any translation, there would be lots to criticize. Tradeoffs will always be in any translation work in this fallen world and more and more I find myself grateful for all the work that has gone into the various psalters and translations over the years. Critiquing them ends up being a luxury some languages don't have!
 

Stephen L Smith

Moderator
Staff member
Our church uses an eclectic Psalter - much of it is in the Dutch tradition. We often use Psalm 117 when we sing the benediction. It is a great way to do it.

Our Psalm 117 is:

Praise Jehovah, all ye nations;
all ye people, praise proclaim.
For his grace and lovingkindness
O sing praises to his name.
For the greatness of his mercy
constant praise to him accord.
Evermore his truth endureth;
hallelujah, praise the Lord!
 

Reformed Covenanter

Puritanboard Commissioner
Personally, I am not a big fan of the Scottish Metrical Version, though I would much prefer to sing out of it than to stand in silence every week. While its alleged inaccuracy has often been used by the #Davidphobic as an excuse for not singing psalms at all, I tell such people that they should sing the psalms out of the Book of Common Prayer if they are such Puritans. (Pun intended.) :stirpot:
 

Tom Hart

Puritan Board Senior
Psalm 117 is a family favourite. It's short enough that my son has it memorized. We sing it from the Scottish Psalter to the tune Praetorius (of which a piano version can be heard here).
 

Tom Hart

Puritan Board Senior
Our Psalm 117 is:

Praise Jehovah, all ye nations;
all ye people, praise proclaim.
For his grace and lovingkindness
O sing praises to his name.
For the greatness of his mercy
constant praise to him accord.
Evermore his truth endureth;
hallelujah, praise the Lord!
Mr. Smith, if I may ask, what tune do you sing that to?
 

Stephen L Smith

Moderator
Staff member

Ben Zartman

Puritan Board Sophomore
Translating is a difficult work; translating to achieve a specific meter and rhyme scheme is even more difficult. Since both the Scottish and the 1912 (and others) are twice put though the wringer (once to get them from Hebrew to English, and again to get them into meter), I try to judge them charitably, having experienced a similar difficulty myself. Remember that while God is most strict in how He requires to be approached, yet He knows our frame, and remembers that we are dust. I trust that He receives our efforts in this regard for Christ's sake, even though they be imperfect in themselves.
 

TylerRay

Puritan Board Graduate
Greetings brothers and sisters.

My favorite Psalter since I first starting singing the Psalms in private has been the 1650 Scottish Psalter. Primarily for its noteworthy accuracy. I think psalmody of any kind (especially EP) is worthless if our Psalters do not have a high emphasis on accuracy. Singability is important, but not as important as singing the Word of God. That being said I know there are a few less than ideal translations in the Scottish Psalter, but one I don't think I've seen mentioned is Psalm 117. Perhaps I'm missing something that's in the Hebrew?

1650 SMV:
O give ye praise unto the Lord,
all nations that be;
Likewise, ye people all, accord
his name to magnify.

For great to us-ward ever are
his loving-kindnesses:
His truth endures for evermore.
The Lord O do ye bless.

Scripture:

O praise the Lord, all ye nations: praise him, all ye people.
For his merciful kindness is great toward us: and the truth of the Lord endureth for ever. Praise ye the Lord.

In the Psalter a whole line is added in verse 1. Does this have any merit in the Hebrew?
O give ye praise unto the Lord, all nations that be = O praise the Lord, all ye nations

Likewise, ye people all, accord
his name to magnify = praise him, all ye people.

I don't see the problem, brother. Could you point out the specific part you are struggling with?
 

Stephen L Smith

Moderator
Staff member
Thank you very much!
You are welcome. I recall you saying the Psalms are a blessing - both to sing and meditate on in times of trial. I agree. I don't know if you have read John Owen's "Assurance: Overcoming the Difficulty of Knowing Forgiveness" - his commentary on Psalm 130, a wonderful book.

I love the 1650 Psalter on this - it goes well with Owen's book:

Lord, from the depths to thee I cried.
My voice, Lord, do thou hear:
unto my supplications' voice
give an attentive ear.

Lord, who shall stand, if thou, O Lord,
should'st mark iniquity?
But yet with thee forgiveness is,
that feared though mayest be.

I wait for God, my soul doth wait,
my hope is in his word.
More than they that for morning watch,
my soul waits for the Lord;

I say, more than they that do watch
the morning light to see.
Let Israel hope in God the Lord,
for with him mercies be;

And plenteous redemption
is ever found with him.
And from all their iniquities
he Israel shall redeem.
 

Tom Hart

Puritan Board Senior
You are welcome. I recall you saying the Psalms are a blessing - both to sing and meditate on in times of trial. I agree. I don't know if you have read John Owen's "Assurance: Overcoming the Difficulty of Knowing Forgiveness" - his commentary on Psalm 130, a wonderful book.
I haven't read this Owen work, but thank you for the reminder. Your recommendation has moved it a couple of spots up my list.
I love the 1650 Psalter on this - it goes well with Owen's book:

Lord, from the depths to thee I cried.
My voice, Lord, do thou hear:
unto my supplications' voice
give an attentive ear.

Lord, who shall stand, if thou, O Lord,
should'st mark iniquity?
But yet with thee forgiveness is,
that feared though mayest be.

I wait for God, my soul doth wait,
my hope is in his word.
More than they that for morning watch,
my soul waits for the Lord;

I say, more than they that do watch
the morning light to see.
Let Israel hope in God the Lord,
for with him mercies be;

And plenteous redemption
is ever found with him.
And from all their iniquities
he Israel shall redeem.
The 130th psalm was one of the first I memorized. I have found the words both convicting and greatly comforting.

We sing it often as a family, in English and in Korean, to the tune Martyrdom.
 
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