« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »
Let the word of Chrif dwell in you richly in all
wisdom ; teaching and admonishing one another
er, and riches, and wisdom, and firength, and
PR EF A C E. AS
S the book of Psalms abounds with subjects
of praise, it has therefore proved a rich fund for hymnal composition. But, it ought to be remembered, that various passages in the writings of all the prophets celebrate “ the fuffer“ings of CHRIST, and the glory that should « follow,*" in as lively and evangelical strains, as any that dropped from the pen of even the sweet Pfalmift of Israel himself ; and wou'd consequently admit of as easy and profitable a verfification. When our Church, therefore, published the book of Psalms in English metre, it is much to be regretted, that all the historical and imprecatory ones, as they are called) were not omitted, to make room for some sweet extracts from the Prophets and the Apostles.
Our Verfion, it is allowed, may have some excellencies; but, every person of judgment and candor, must acknowledge, that it has its deficiencies too. Whoever possesses the smalleft taste for poetical composition, will eafily perceive, that Sternhold and Hopkins, (the versifiers of our psalms) were better acquainted with the truths of Divinity, than conversant in the beauties of poetry ; and that a wreath of laurel did by no means suit their brow; or, as Fuller in his church - history wittily observes, that * i Peler, i. 11.
" they drank deeper of the water of life, than of the Atreams of Helicon." For, not to say that the metre is extremely unflowing, the rhymes very unharmonious, the diction very uncouth, and the sense in many places exceedingly perplext; I wish there was no cause to fear, that sometimes we meet with no sense at all.
But, the jargon of language and uncouthnefs of rhymes, lo glaring in our version, are not the only defects. It is embarrassed, moreover, with considerable obscurity. The plalms are full of the glory of CHRIST, though, indeed, that glory is, in a great measure, veiled. But it is · peculiar to the New Testament, to develope, or, throw light, upon the Old; that is, so to remove the veil of obscurity, as to exhibit, as in a bright mirror, the most advantageous manifestation of the GRACE, WORK, and PERSON of CHRIST. And, every one, who would form an edifying paraphrase on any part of the Old Testament, whether in prose or verse, Should keep this point constantly in view. But this is not done in our version, nor in that of Tate and Brady, though the latter has considesably the advantage in point of poetic accuracy ; no, nor even in the very elegant vei fification of Doctor Merrick. In all these compositions, we labor through great Old-Testament obscurity, which is manifestly done away in CHRIST ; and see more of Moses's veil, than of the glory, which
(v) beams from the head of his illustrious Antifype.
The Church of Scotland is not less embarrafied in this respect. The version of the Kirk is not a whit more poetical, nor more evangelical than our own. Many pious and judicious men, therefore, in both Churches, have earnestly wished to see such a collection of tfalms, hymns, and spiritual songs, taken from the old and new Testament, as would do honor to our language, to British poetry, and to sound divinity.
With a design, then, to obviate the defects of our Version, to gratify the requests of many of my hearers, to encourage gospel psalmody, and to promote the glory of GOD, I have taken the liberty to publish the following collection of psalms and hymns, taken chiefly from the seraphic Doctor Watts and others ; praying that the LORD would accompany them with a divine bleffing, and teach us to fing “ with the Spirit, and with the understanding also.”
It has been frequently observed, that no part of divine worship approaches so nearly to the immediate employ of glorified spirits, as that of singing the praises of our GOD. And it is very much to be wished, that the heavenly exercise may so universally prevail, as to abolish for ever those “ungodly fongs" (as the Church of England very juftly styles them). 66 which tend only to the nourishing of vice, and the corrupting of youth.” *
* See the title-page to the book of psalms collected into Enge Jish metre by T, S, asid J. H.