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WHEN I SURVEY WATTS'S METRICAL PSALMS 721 When I Survey Watts's Metrical Psalms LINDA MUNK J.R. Watson. The English Hymn: A Critical and Historical Study Oxford: Clarendon Press 1997. 552. £65.00 For Calvin, the Hebrew Psalter was 'the Anatomy of all the partes of the Soule, inasmuch as a man shall not find any affection in himselfe, whereof the Image appeereth not in this glasse.' The Psalms 'lyvely set out before our eyes, all the greefes, sorowes, feares, doutes, hopes, cares, anguishes, and finally all the trubblesome motions wherewith mennes mindes are woontto be turmoyled.' From about 1550, well-known English poets (Sir Thomas Wyatt, George Sandys, Thomas Ravenscroft, William Byrd, SirPhilip Sidney, and his sister, MaryHerbert Countess ofPembroke) published or circulated inmanuscript metrical versions of the Hebrew Psalms. The BoDice ofPsalmes: Collected !J'do English Meeter by Thomas Sternhold and John Hopkins (,conferred with the Hebrew; with apt Notes to sing them withall') appeared in 1562; by 1640 it had achieved over two hundred editions. As adjuncts to the English liturgy, Sternhold and Hopkins can sometimes be found in the Geneva Bible and the BookofCommon Prayer. The Prayer Book version of the Psalter, taken from the Great Bible of 1539/ is based on Coverdale's translation from the Latin. The Bay Psalm Boole, or The Whole Booke of Psalmes Faithfully Translated into English Metre, was published in 1640 in Cambridge, Massachusetts. The focus of this review is Isaac Watts's (faithless) Psalms ofDavid, Imitated in the Languageofthe New Testament (1719). ToputWatts's revisionism in context, consider the opening verses ofPsalm 21, taken by some commentators to be a prayer offered for King David on the eve of a battle. In the translation of the Jewish Publication Society: '0 Lord, the king rejoices in Your strength; Jhow greatly he exults in Your victory! J You have granted him the desire of his heart, / have not denied the request of his lips.' The Psalter of the Boole of Common Prayer has: 'The King shall rejoice in thy strength, a Lord: exceeding glad shall he be of thy salvation. Thou hast given him his heart's desire: and hast not denied ryim the request of rus lips.' InSternhold and Hopkins's Booke ofPsalmes: Collected Into English Meeter, the faithful translators have set the text in Common Metre (4.3-4-3): o Lord/ how joyful is the King in thy strength and thy pow'r; Exceedingly he does rejoice in thee his Saviour. For thou hast given unto rum his godly hearts desire: To whom thou nothing hast deny'd of that he did require. The lovely version in the Sidney-Pembroke Psalter is set in Long Metre (4-4+4); 722 LINDA MUNK New joy, new joy unto our king, Lord, from thy strength is growing: Lord what delight to him doth bring His safety, from thee flowing! Thou hast giv'n what his hart woulde have, Nay, soone as he but moved His lips to crave what he would crave, He had as him beloved. The Bay Psalm Book has the text in Short Metre (3.3-4-3): Iehovah, in thy strength the King shaH joyfull bee; and joy in thy salvation how vehemently shall hee? Thou of his heart to him has granted the desire: and thou hast not witholden back, what rus lips did require. Now Isaac Watts's revision, set in Long Metre (4.4+4): David rejoiced in God, his strength, Rais'd to the throne by special grace; But Christ the Son appears at length, Fulfils the triumphs and the praise. If Sternhold and Hopkins have proudly 'conferred with the Hebrew/ Watts has christianized the Hebrew Psalm. According to J.R. Watson's admirably researched study of the English hymn, Isaac Watts was'concerned about the absence of specifically Christian doctrine in the psalms'; therefore 'he felt it necessary to add some wherever possible, to give what he called "an evangelic turn to the Hebrew sense/' and lito accommodate the: book of Psalms to Christian worship." , Christological glosses on Hebrew Scripture are not new: students of literature are familiar with the rhetorical figure known as 'typology' or 'figuralism,' an approach...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1712-5278
Print ISSN
0042-0247
Pages
pp. 721-726
Launched on MUSE
2014-07-02
Open Access
No
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