The Bay Psalm Book--Singable Psalms of the Seventheenth Century

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I love Bill's idea of assembling a Psalter. My difficulty would come in choosing the very best versions of these translations. Naturally KJV and BCP come to mind, with Douay-Rheims-Challoner as possibilities. But I am reminded of the huge wealth of the literature of translation, inclunding Mary (Sidney) Herbert, Countess of Pembroke, and the remarkable Bay Psalm Book, from which I extract Psalm 1.

Psalm 1 from the Bay Psalme Booke

1 O blessed man, that in th'advice
of wicked doth not walk
Nor stand in sinners way nor sit
in chayre of scornfull folk.

2 But in the law of Jehova,
is his longing delight;
and in his law doth meditate
by day and ere by night.

3 And he shall be like to a tree
planted by water-rivers:
That in his season yields his fruit
And his leafe never withers.

4 And all he doth, shall prosper well,
the wicked are not so:
But they are like unto the chaffe
which winde drives to and fro.

5 Therefore shall not ungodly men,
rise to stand in the doome,
Nor shall the sinners with the just,
in their assemblie come.

6 For of the righteous men, the Lord
aknowledgeth the way:
but the way of ungodly men,
shall utterly decay.

You can hear some ot the melodies to which this might have been sung on this page.

A related page here gives a sense of what such a psalter might be. Though, I wouldn't necessarily choose the translations on these pages--they are instructive to see what one would choose for singing Psalms.

For example, here's Milton's rather strident and overly poetic version of the same. (Note half-rhymes and enjambments that would make singing almost nonsensical, it would seem.)

Psalm 1
translated by John Milton

Bless'd is the man who hath not walk'd astray
In counsel of the wicked, and ith' way
Of sinners hath not stood, and in the seat
Of scorners hath not sate. But in the great
Jehovahs Law is ever his delight,
And in his Law he studies day and night.

He shall be as a tree which planted grows
By watry streams, and in his season knows
To yield his fruit, and his leaf shall not fall,
And what he takes in hand shall prosper all.
Not so the wicked, but as chaff which fann'd
The wind drives, so the wicked shall not stand

In judgment, or abide their tryal then,
Nor sinners in th' assembly of just men.
For the Lord knows th' upright way of the just,
And the way of bad men to ruine must.

But still, the idea has appeal, if only for the fact that it would require us to spend some goodlyl amount of time perusing, and hopefully praying the psalms as we are selecting them.

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Do you kno who translated the psalms in the Anglican Book of Common Prayer (the 1929 version, not the modern bastardization)? Those are the translations that I was weaned upon, and I found them most melodious to chant.

Would that be Miles Coverdale's translation? See



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This page contains a single entry by Steven Riddle published on October 13, 2004 7:03 AM.

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