Why the Scottish Psalter?

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yeutter

Puritan Board Senior
Why do you prefer the Scottish Psalter to the Coverdale Psalter or for that matter the an English translation of the Genevan Psalter?
 

koenig

Puritan Board Freshman
I can't speak to the Geneva or any of its descendants, but the Coverdale is not metrical, so it is only suitable for chanting.
 

Jake

Puritan Board Junior
The two biggest for me are that it is accurate and easy to sing:

*It's translation is often the most accurate out of other comparable psalters (though it has some weak points)
*Every Psalm is available in common meter, so you can sing any Psalm you want without learning new tunes. When I use metrical psalters that have lots of different tunes and meters, I tend to let the tunes dictate what I sing rather than the Psalms themselves.

That said, there are some awkward places due to weird phrasing or archaic language in Scottish Psalter, but I find these places are relatively rare. I think it would be great if there were a psalter in modern english that had common meter versions of every Psalm and prioritized accurate translation. I don't know of one.
 
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TylerRay

Puritan Board Graduate
I'll second what Jake said about accuracy and user-friendliness.

In regard to accuracy, I'll add that, over against many modern translations, it uses the older system of pronouns, and thus distinguishes between the singular and plural second-person pronouns. As someone who reads the AV and prays using the older system of pronouns, I highly prefer to sing the Psalms in the same manner.
 

Guido's Brother

Puritan Board Junior
Sadly, I suspect most people here are not familiar with the Genevan psalter in English. I've grown up with it and love it. I appreciate the Scottish metrical psalter too, but one gravitates to the familiar. Growing up, we often complained about some of the archaic language. As I came to study Hebrew, I also noticed that some of our rhymings weren't all that accurate (some were taken over from the work of Dewey Westra for the CRC Psalter). However, since 2014, there is a new edition of the Genevan Psalter in English that has both more contemporary English and more accurate renditions. You can find more information here.
 

yeutter

Puritan Board Senior
One of the big objections we hear to the Psalter found in the Book of Common Prayer [which is essentially the Coverdale] is that it is not singable. The Prayerbook Psalter is easily chanted in either plainsong chant or in Anglican chant but can not be sung to Common Meter or Long Meter tunes.
 

yeutter

Puritan Board Senior
Wes is right. The old Christian Reformed Church Psalter Hymnal, and the Psalter used by the Protestant Reformed Churches and the Netherlands Reformed Congregations are carryovers from the old United Presbyterian Church Psalter of 1912; with some more recent additions by Dewey Westra. As Wes noted; some of the rhymings are not all that accurate. That carried over to some limited extent to the Canadian Reformed Church Anglo-Genevan Psalter. The new edition is wonderful, but I am not thrilled with all of the hymns also included in the 2014 Book of Praise. The tunes to which the Anglo-Genevan Psalter is sung are in some respects close musically to Anglican Chant. www.genevanpsalter.com Those who prefer familiar Common Meter tunes might have the same objection to the Psalter in the Book of Praise that they do to the Coverdale Psalter.
 

Jake

Puritan Board Junior
I'll add that I love many of the Genevan tunes, but there are so many that it's prohibitive to learn one every time I want to sing a particular Psalm. I don't necessarily have an attachment to common meter tunes, it's just convenient having all the Psalms in one meter so that tunes can be easily swapped.
 

Guido's Brother

Puritan Board Junior
I'll add that I love many of the Genevan tunes, but there are so many that it's prohibitive to learn one every time I want to sing a particular Psalm. I don't necessarily have an attachment to common meter tunes, it's just convenient having all the Psalms in one meter so that tunes can be easily swapped.
In the Genevan psalter, 124 tunes are used. Some of them are repeated -- 15 tunes are used twice, 4 are used three times, and 1 is used four times. And, actually, there are Genevan tunes sometimes used with the SMP too.
 

Jeri Tanner

Moderator
Staff member
Sadly, I suspect most people here are not familiar with the Genevan psalter in English. I've grown up with it and love it.
In a previous thread on singing whole Psalms in a service I noted that it doesn't take as long to sing at least some of the Psalm selections in the Genevan as it does in the 1650 SMV; and that the free-flowing style and interesting tunes might help the singer have more 'staying power' in singing a longer Psalm. Any thoughts on that, and what has been the practice of your denomination in singing the longer Psalms in their entirety?




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Guido's Brother

Puritan Board Junior
In a previous thread on singing whole Psalms in a service I noted that it doesn't take as long to sing at least some of the Psalm selections in the Genevan as it does in the 1650 SMV; and that the free-flowing style and interesting tunes might help the singer have more 'staying power' in singing a longer Psalm. Any thoughts on that, and what has been the practice of your denomination in singing the longer Psalms in their entirety?
Originally, many of the Genevan psalms were composed to be sung in a brisk and lively manner. Some of the recordings available reflect that original intent. When sung in that manner, it is certainly reasonable to sing the longer psalms. I have seen this done in the Reformed Churches of Brazil. BUT...in the Netherlands we have another development with which to reckon: the pipe organ. The pipe organ can sustain a note for a long time -- that can be a good thing or bad thing. Eventually, the Genevan psalter in the Netherlands was being used with whole notes and the organ accompanied accordingly. Psalms would take painfully long to sing, even ones with upbeat content (i.e. not laments). Because of that, the practice developed in the Dutch Reformed churches of singing maybe two or three stanzas of a psalm, but seldom the entire psalm. When transplanted to Canada, that practice continued with the Genevan Psalter, even though it now had half-notes and whole notes (making it more rhythmic). Unfortunately, some organists still played at a funereal pace. Things are changing. I think we sing much faster today in Canada (and Australia), so I'm more inclined to ask the congregation to sing entire psalms. Some are still not reasonable to expect a congregation to do in one go, especially if they're standing (you'll hear about it from the elderly).
 

ZackF

Puritan Board Graduate
I have the singing ability of a wounded crow. The 1650 has been wonderful for our family. We have a couple of those TBS editions.
 

yeutter

Puritan Board Senior
Are there any stand-alone printings of the A.V. or Coverdale Psalter available?
Yes, I have seen stand alone editions of the Psalter found in the Book of Common Prayer [99%+ of which is Coverdale] in both Anglican Chant and Plainsong Chant
 
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TylerRay

Puritan Board Graduate
Sadly, I suspect most people here are not familiar with the Genevan psalter in English. I've grown up with it and love it. I appreciate the Scottish metrical psalter too, but one gravitates to the familiar. Growing up, we often complained about some of the archaic language. As I came to study Hebrew, I also noticed that some of our rhymings weren't all that accurate (some were taken over from the work of Dewey Westra for the CRC Psalter). However, since 2014, there is a new edition of the Genevan Psalter in English that has both more contemporary English and more accurate renditions. You can find more information here.
As a musician, I love the Genevan tunes. When I was a single man (and thus had more time on my hands), I learned several of the tunes, and memorized some of the Psalm settings. I have the smaller edition of the Book of Praise (1984, I think), and it's a neat Psalter, not only because of the Genevan Psalms, but also because of the Three Forms of Unity and the CanRC worship forms contained in it. One can gain quite an education through a diligent use of that Psalter.

Unfortunately, I have to agree with the downsides to the Genevan Psalter listed earlier on the thread. The tunes are many, and are difficult for Westerners due to the various modes in which they are set; and the translation isn't all that accurate.

Nevertheless, for people like me with nerdy dispositions toward music and the distinctive doctrines and practices of various denominations, it is a really neat volume to have in one's library. I intend to hold onto mine.
 

TylerRay

Puritan Board Graduate
Let me add that I really appreciate that the CanRC put such a useful resource in the hands of its people. There they have their Psalter, confessional documents, and liturgical forms all in one handy volume. The CanRC member needs nothing more than this little book and his Bible to be equipped for public, family, and private worship.
 

Jeri Tanner

Moderator
Staff member
The tunes are many, and are difficult for Westerners due to the various modes in which they are set.
I think that if one is in a church that sings these tunes, they wouldn't be much more difficult than learning the various metrical melodies. I find them very well-fitted to the various Psalms they're assigned to. Like most of the older metrical melodies they're easy on the voice, since they mimic chanting.

I'd like to hear more on the accuracy of the translations. I guess the translations are now based on the critical text as opposed to the MT?




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Logan

Puritan Board Junior
I'd like to hear more on the accuracy of the translations. I guess the translations are now based on the critical text as opposed to the MT?
By MT do you mean "Majority" or "Masoretic"? I thought pretty much all the OT translations came from essentially the same text and it was the NT translations that differed on textual families.

I do think that CM is especially detrimental to longer psalms, where due to the naturally slow pace and the short stanzas most congregations seem to have simply given up singing the psalm in its entirety. While I understand the appeal of CM-only for some people, I think a better solution is to have a few different meters sprinkled more or less evenly throughout. Not only does they fit some psalms better, but most people already know many tunes of different meters from hymns. Some psalters have gone overboard with dozens of different meters, but I think just CM is equally extreme.
 

Jeri Tanner

Moderator
Staff member
By MT do you mean "Majority" or "Masoretic"? I thought pretty much all the OT translations came from essentially the same text and it was the NT translations that differed on textual families.

I do think that CM is especially detrimental to longer psalms, where due to the naturally slow pace and the short stanzas most congregations seem to have simply given up singing the psalm in its entirety. While I understand the appeal of CM-only for some people, I think a better solution is to have a few different meters sprinkled more or less evenly throughout. Not only does they fit some psalms better, but most people already know many tunes of different meters from hymns. Some psalters have gone overboard with dozens of different meters, but I think just CM is equally extreme.
Yes, sorry on the text remark and question-had a brain glitch.

I agree with your remarks on the issues with CM for longer Psalms. It would be nice to assemble a Psalter taking the all-around best Psalm settings from the various Psalters available.




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Guido's Brother

Puritan Board Junior
I think that if one is in a church that sings these tunes, they wouldn't be much more difficult than learning the various metrical melodies. I find them very well-fitted to the various Psalms they're assigned to. Like most of the older metrical melodies they're easy on the voice, since they mimic chanting.

I'd like to hear more on the accuracy of the translations.
The Genevan tunes are used for psalm-singing in Reformed churches around the world, on every inhabited continent and in all kinds of cultures. Obviously, in general they're not as hard to sing as some make them out to be. There are some exceptions.

As far as the accuracy, I'd maintain that the 2014 edition of the Genevan psalms is as accurate as the Scottish Metrical Psalter. The 1984 edition definitely had problems, but the vast majority of these have been rectified.
 

SavedSinner

Puritan Board Freshman
Another advantage of the Genevan Psalter is that it is international: German Reformed use it, French, Hungarian, Dutch, English, etc., so you can sing with any congregation even if you don't know their language. And they didn't remove huge chunks of the text the way the 1912 Psalter did. The whole Psalm is their to sing in multiple languages. I think most of the tunes are easy to learn.
 

Logan

Puritan Board Junior
As far as the accuracy, I'd maintain that the 2014 edition of the Genevan psalms is as accurate as the Scottish Metrical Psalter. The 1984 edition definitely had problems, but the vast majority of these have been rectified.
I'm curious what you mean by "accuracy" here, I tried looking up the 2014 edition but I'm not sure if that's on the site you linked to or if the various translations are older editions. Regardless, do you mean more of an accuracy of ideas or a formal equivalence accuracy?

Many of the psalters I've reviewed do a fairly good job of getting across the concept, but often words or ideas are missed to fit the meter. For example Psalm 25
"To you, O LORD, I lift up my soul.
O my God in you I trust;"

Is translated in "Sing Psalms" as
"To you, O LORD, I lift my soul;
I trust in you continually"

Which gets the idea across but omits "God" in the second line (obviously it's implied from the first). So pretty accurate in the concept but perhaps not as much in wording. Is that the case with the Genevan 2014? What do you believe to be accurate?
 

NaphtaliPress

Administrator
Staff member
As I think I said on another thread, working on a psalter for my church which draws from a number of psalters (see below), I guess I was naive as far as word for word accuracy in translations in various psalters. They all tend to have at least some selections where in serving the meter words are added or subtracted and there is more a thought equivalence as Logan notes. In redoing selections from scratch or modifying others (like 1912) it was clear how difficult the job is to make singable text. So I don't want to overly fault this since I sure don't have the gifts to do such work. I do think those that hold to exclusive psalmody should tend to let accuracy govern over easily adding or subtracting words to serve the meter. But as I say, I was naive about the difficulties.
[The Lakewood Psalter has selections from Book of Praise of the Canadian Reformed Churches,
Scottish Psalter, 1614, alt.; Scottish Psalter, 1615; Scottish Psalter, 1641,; alt.; The Book of Psalms for Singing, 1973; The Book of Psalms for Worship, 2009; The Psalter, 1871, 1912, and alt.; Trinity Psalter and some work by individuals.]
I'm curious what you mean by "accuracy" here, I tried looking up the 2014 edition but I'm not sure if that's on the site you linked to or if the various translations are older editions. Regardless, do you mean more of an accuracy of ideas or a formal equivalence accuracy?

Many of the psalters I've reviewed do a fairly good job of getting across the concept, but often words or ideas are missed to fit the meter. For example Psalm 25
"To you, O LORD, I lift up my soul.
O my God in you I trust;"

Is translated in "Sing Psalms" as
"To you, O LORD, I lift my soul;
I trust in you continually"

Which gets the idea across but omits "God" in the second line (obviously it's implied from the first). So pretty accurate in the concept but perhaps not as much in wording. Is that the case with the Genevan 2014? What do you believe to be accurate?
 

Jeri Tanner

Moderator
Staff member
As I think I said on another thread, working on a psalter for my church which draws from a number of psalters (see below), I guess I was naive as far as word for word accuracy in translations in various psalters. They all tend to have at least some selections where in serving the meter words are added or subtracted and there is more a thought equivalence as Logan notes. In redoing selections from scratch or modifying others (like 1912) it was clear how difficult the job is to make singable text. So I don't want to overly fault this since I sure don't have the gifts to do such work. I do think those that hold to exclusive psalmody should tend to let accuracy govern over easily adding or subtracting words to serve the meter. But as I say, I was naive about the difficulties.
[The Lakewood Psalter has selections from Book of Praise of the Canadian Reformed Churches,
Scottish Psalter, 1614, alt.; Scottish Psalter, 1615; Scottish Psalter, 1641,; alt.; The Book of Psalms for Singing, 1973; The Book of Psalms for Worship, 2009; The Psalter, 1871, 1912, and alt.; Trinity Psalter and some work by individuals.]
Yes; "in serving the meter words are added and subtracted and there is more a thought equivalence." I wonder if we'll ever return to the plainsong singing of them in the Reformed churches- it would solve all.


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yeutter

Puritan Board Senior
I am encouraging our friend abroad to:
1. Use the best Bible translation available when composing a Psalter; instead of using the Coverdale, as the basis for their vernacular Psalter.
2. Set their Psalter to chant tune that are easy to master.
3. Avoid using chant tunes that are too similar to those being used in Buddhist or Hindu temples.
 

Guido's Brother

Puritan Board Junior
I'm curious what you mean by "accuracy" here, I tried looking up the 2014 edition but I'm not sure if that's on the site you linked to or if the various translations are older editions. Regardless, do you mean more of an accuracy of ideas or a formal equivalence accuracy? [...]

So pretty accurate in the concept but perhaps not as much in wording. Is that the case with the Genevan 2014? What do you believe to be accurate?
Psalm 47 is a notorious example. Here's the 1984 version of stanza 1 (based on Dewey Westra's work for the CRC Psalter):

Praise the LORD, ye lands! Nations clap your hands,
Shout aloud to God, spread His fame abroad.
Praise Him loud and long with a triumph song;
Bow as ye draw nigh, for the LORD Most High,
Terrible is He in His dignity;
And His kingdom's girth circles all the earth.

That's meant to reflect Psalm 47:1-4 in the Bible. There are ideas missing and ideas added.
Here's the first stanza of Psalm 47 in the 2014 Book of Praise:

Clap your hands and shout! Let your praise ring out!
Peoples far and near, God Most High revere!
Awesome King is he, great in majesty.
Nations he brought low, humbling every foe.
By his mighty hand he gave us our land;
in God's loving choice, Jacob could rejoice.

While it's not an exact word-for-word translation of Psalm 47:1-4 (that would be impossible to understand), it does better capture all that's communicated in those verses. Note in particular that Dewey Westra left out verse 4 entirely in his rendition; there's no mention of Israel's heritage in the land, nor reference to Jacob.
 
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