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Glad was the sound, and welcome the command,
That call’d me to Jehovah's house once more.
Again our feet, rejoicing, as before,
For there Jehovah's tribes his name adore ;
To Israel there they count his mercies o'er ;
"Oh, love Jerusalem! Bless him who calls
Must we, in fairness, justify our severer strictures by a few specimens that broadly contrast with the above? We shall only detach a few verses from their connexion as samples.
And with glorious
“Lord, what time
But for ever
- Widow, guest,
- Tush! God hears not”
Thus he fears not
To blaspheme thy name.' Again. Psalm xiv.
“How foolish they
That inly say-
To every baseness giv'n!
· · With deathlike clasp
They, yawning, grasp
And treach'rous is their speech We take a single stanza from the xxiveh, which is almost travestie.
• Lift, gates, your heads! Ope, everlasting doors !
What king of glory comes along?
Jehovah great, Jehovah strong. The lxviith begins :
“May God pity his people and bless,
And the light of his presence bestow '
And not to multiply unnecessarily these unhappy specimens of bad taste, Psalm cxxxv opens thus :
· Praise Jah! To praise our God unite,
Jehovah's serving band,
Or in his temple stand.'
Therefore we will not fear,
Its angry billows rear.
The city of the Lord;
In Salem is ador'd.
Tho' heathens spurn his sway.
· The Lord of Hosts our cause defends.
Come then! Behold, and trace
On Nature's beauteous face!
Throughout this earthly frame.
Consigns it to the flame.
« All Earth obey my voice."
The objects of his choice.' Of Mr. Gahagan's · Rhyme Version ', we can only say, that we applaud the Author's modesty, but not the discretion or kindness of his friends ;—that we acquit him of all intention to offend 'the pious reader' or those curious in Biblical learning'; ~that we are glad to find he has derived amusement and instruction from so pure a source as the study of the Psalms ;-but that he has not improved upon Sternhold and Hopkins in such rhyming as the following:
• The Lord is gracious, thanks to him then give,
And his great mercies do for ever live.' p. 155.
Ascribe ye strength to God, his worship sing.' p. 37.
Can nothing lack while in his keep.' p. 29. We hope that Mr. G. succeeds better as a barrister than as a rhymester : his volume is only waste paper. By the way, Mr. Marsh has not succeeded much better in that exquisite composition, the xxiiid Psalm.
• I will Jehovah for my shepherd hail :
For, while he feeds me, I shall never fail', &c. His entire version of this Psalm is deficient alike in simplicity, closeness, and elegance. Sandys has completely failed ; Addison's paraphrase is beautiful, but faulty; Merrick is affected ; Tate's is, perhaps, one of the best ; but Watts's xxiiid will always be the favourite for devotional use.
Scattered through our poetical literature, there are some happy versions of particular Psalms, which, if collected and added to
the best versions that could be selected from the various Authors who have attempted to translate these sacred compositions, would make a far more pleasing and valuable volume than any single Version. We are not speaking of a selection for the purposes of Psalmody. Of such works, we have more than enough ; and lamentable it is to see how the Psalms of David are mangled and tortured to force them into singing metres. Take, for instance, Bishop Marsh's Psalm xxix, as it appears in one of the most popular church collections.
- The Voice of the Lord the waters controls;
Of glory the God, the thunders he forms:
He speaks, and the billows are blackened with storms.
• The Voice of the Lord speeds hinds to their throes ', &c. &c. Mr. Marsh follows to a similar tune: e. g. verse 3:
The voice of Jehovah the tall cedar breaks ;
And, like bullocks, in Sirion they tempest the ground.' The palpable and almost ludicrous unsuitableness of the metre to the character of the composition, is not the least remarkable feature in these specimens of mistranslation. Watts, in his version of this Psalm is respectable, but tame and flat. Sandys is more spirited :
· From a dark and showering cloud,
Full of power and majesty.' Of this Psalm, Bishop Lowth remarks, that it is enough to say 6 of it, that the sublimity of the matter is perfectly equalled by
the unaffected energy of the style. His Translator, Dr. G. Gregory, has introduced a paraphrase in the same measure as Sandys's more faithful version, but it is overloaded with poetic finery. Nor does any rhyming metre seem to comport with the sublime abruptness of the style, the verbal iterations, the recitative character of this elevated piece of descriptive poetry, which has seemed to us more naturally to fall into blank verse. We dare not hope that we have succeeded in the following version, but we have at least avoided the grosser improprieties of former translators.
Give, O ye mighty, to Jehovah give
O render to the Lord the glory due
Are safe. The Lord will give His people peace. Unaffectedly, we say that we are not satisfied with this attempt; and yet we think it may, like a rude etching, give some idea of the poetic spirit of the sublime original. During the many years that the Psalms have occupied a portion of our hore subsecive, we have occasionally endeavoured to give to those which have appeared to us susceptible of metrical translation, that shape and dress which, after the most attentive study of their specific character, seemed to be most in harmony with the sentiments and structure of the composition. A few specimens, we have found occasion to lay before our readers : * how far they have proved acceptable, we have no means of ascertaining; but we are well aware how few persons, comparatively, take any interest in the Psalms as poetry, and how large a proportion of pious persons consider any deviations from the Bible Version and Dr. Watts, or from the Liturgy Psalms and Sternhold and Hopkins, as sacrilegious innovations. To most lovers of poetry, on the other hand, the word psalm is a stumbling-block and an offence. Will they permit us to invite their attention to a Hebrew Melody—an ode descriptive of the spring, written some thousands of years ago by a Syrian monarch of devout character, but of poetic genius far surpassing that of the Persian Hafiz or the Teian Bard. The ode is inscribed to the Deity,—the Jehovah of the Jewish nation.