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TO THE STATE OF THE CHURCH IN THE
BY ABIJAH DAVIS,
0 sing unto the Lord a new song; for he hath done
PRINTED FOR THE AUTHOR BY D. HEARTT.
District of New-Jersey, ss. BE IT REMEMBERED that on the twenty-secondday of May, in the thirty-sixth year of the independence || of the U.S. of America, Abijah Davis, of the said district, hath deposited in this office the title of a book the right whereof he claims as proprietor, in the words following, to wit: “An American Version of the Psalms of David, suited to the state of the church in the present age of
the world, by Abijah Davis, minister of the Gospel at o
Millville, New-Jersey,” in conformity with the act of the lot congress of the United States, entitled “An act for the loin encouragement of learning by securing the copies of, *ion | maps, charts and books to the authors and proprietors it into of such copies, during the times therein mentioned, .. $$$$.sost - ROBERT BOGGS, so S. L. S. #. Clerk of the District of N. J. t M\to
* R. K. S ****** copy.
THIS American version of the Psalms of David is intended to be, as it were, a new song put into the mouths of God’s ransomed people, written in a language which they understand, but breathing the spirit of the divine original. In executing this work, the plan was to give a free verse translation of the Psalms, making them the ground work of the new song, preserving the leading ideas and metaphors, but varying the expression to suit the circumstances of the church in the present age of the world. A prose translation strictly, literal, is very difficult, and not always just; a verse translation strictly literal, is an impossibility which it is folly to attempt. In a version of the Psalms the harmony of sounds ought not to be sacrificed for the sake of being a little more literal. “ The letter profiteth no... thing, it is the spirit that giveth life.” It is enough for me, therefore, and it ought to satisfy every unprejudiced Christian, if in this work, I have kept as near as I could to the inspired model, without running into a gingle of words. This version is intended for the use of all the true worshippers of God, who love our Lord Jesus Christ in sincerity and truth. There may, indeed, be a few stanzas that will not exactly correspond with the received opinions of some, but the author hopes that they will have more liberality than to condemn a work for the fault real or supposed) which they find with a few - A 2
lines. It ought rather to lead them to a deeper study of the scriptures to discover where the error lies, whether in this work or in their own minds. It is not by an intolerant spirit, but by mutual forbearance, and a free exchange of set timent, that the several Christian denominations, if ever, will be brought to the unity of the faith. That I might not be under the necessity of rejecting many of the most poetical words, or of compelling the unlearned worshipper to sing without understanding, I have given in the margin an explanation of the most difficult terms. An author is oftentimes but imperfectly understood by many, for want of a dictionary at hand, or of a sufficient knowledge of the meaning of words. By casting an eye to the references the language in this version is familiarized to almost every child, while by this means I have been enabled to sing in more harmonious strains. This practice is new, but was it adopted generally by authors, I think it would greatly tend to the improvement of language and consequent enlargement of ideas, especially among those whose opportunities have not been favorable. I hope, therefore, that the scholar, who is under no necessity of such an help, will not, censure me for the pains which I have taken to enable the unlearned to sing with the understanding. The Psalms are varied in length from four verses to ten, to suit times and circumstances. Where a Psalm is thought to be too long for the occasion, a part may in many cases be omitted, where it Joes not too much injure the connexion. But as church music is generally performin quicker time now, than in former ages, it
is hoped that in so delightful a part of Christian
worship as that of praise to God, eight or ten verses will seldom be thought tedious. What can be said, or sung, in eight or ten verses equal to the honor of his name, “who loved us and washed us from our sins in his own blood,” when eternity itself would be too short to utter all his praise? I must here record the goodness of the Lord in preserving my life to accomplish this work. I was not sixteen years of age when I formed the resolution that at forty I would begin what is here completed. When the time of life came I without delay set about the work, and by the good hand of my God upon me I have lived to prepare it for the press. It was God, I trust, who first put the thought into mine heart, it is God has preserved my life until I have accomplished the design which I formed in youth, and if in the execution of this work I have done any thing to advance his kingdom in the world, not unto me, not unto me, but unto his name be all the glory. It is, and will continue to be, my rejoicing in old age, that I devoted to God the prime of life. May others receive as much pleasure in singing the praises of God, as I have in putting this new song into their mouths. May thousands, who are now silent in his praise, or whose mouths are full of cursing and bitterness, have their hearts turned, and their voices tuned, to strike the heavenly key and to sing, “Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive blessing, and glory, and honor, and power.” When the author sleeps in dust, may the name of the Redeemer still be sung by the generations that shall arise to call him blessed, May other bards in future 2.