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I am content to yield to Mr. Milbourne the preference of his poesy in several parts of his psalms, and to Mr. Țate and Dr. Brady in some of theirs ; but in those very places their turns of thought and language are too much raised above a vulgar audience, and fit only for persons of an higher education.
I have not refused, in some few psalms, to borrow a single line or two from these three authors; yet I have taken the most freedom of that sort with Dr. Patrick, for his style best agrees with my design, though his verse be generally of a lover strain.
In some of the more elevated psalms I have given a little indulgence to my genius; and if it should appear that I have aimed at the sublime, yet I have generally kept within the reach of an unlearned reader. I never thought the art of sublime writing consisted in flying out of sight; nor am I of the mind of the Italian, who said, Obscurity begets greatness. I have always avoided the language of the poets where it did not suit the language of the gospel.
In many of these composures I have just permitted my verse to rise above a fat and indolent style ; yet I hope it is every where supported above the just contempt of the critics: Though I am sensible that I have often subdued it below their esteem; because I would neither indulge any bold metaphors, nor admit of hard words, nor tempt an ignorant worshipper to sing without his understanding.
Though I have attempted to imitate the sacred beauties of my author, in some of the sprightly psalms, such as Psal. xlv. xlvi. xlix. Ixv. Ixxii. xc. xci. civ. cxiv. cxv. caxix. &c. yet if my youthful readers complain, that they expected to find here more elegant and beautiful descriptions with which the sacred original abounds, let them consider that some of those pieces of descriptive poesy are the flowery elegancies peculiar to eastern nations and antique ages, and are much too large also to be brought into such short Christian sonnets as are used in our present Forship; almost all those psalms I have contracted and fitted to more spiritual devotion, as Psal. xviii. lxviii. lxxiii. Lxxviii, cv. cvi. cix, &c.
of the Metre and Rhyme. I have formed my verse in the three most usual metres to which our psalm tunes are fitted, namely, the common metre, the metre of the old twenty-fifth psalm, which I call short metre, and that of the old hundredth psalm, which I call long metre. Besides these, I have done some few psalms in stanzas of six, eight, or twelve lines, to the best of the old tunes. Many of them I have also cast into two or three metres, not by leaving out or adding two syllables in a line, whereby others have cramped or stretched their verse to the destruction of all poesy ; but I have made an entire new song, and oftentimes, in the different metres, I have indulged those different senses, in which commentators have explained the inspired author: And if in one metre I have given the loose to a paraphrase, I have confined myself to my text in the other.
If I am charged by the critics for repeating the same rhymes too often, let them consider that the words which continually recur in divine poesy, admit exceeding few rhymes to them fit for sacred use; these are God, world, flesh, soul, life, death, faith, hope, heaven, earth, &c. which I think will make sufficient apology; especially since I have coupled all my lines by rhymes, much more than either Mr. Tate or Dr. Patrick have done, which is certainly most musical and agreeable to the ear, where rhyme is used at all.
I must confess I have never yet seen any version, or paraphrase of the psalms in their own Jewish sense, so perfect as to discourage all further attempts. But #boever undertakes the noble work, let him bring with him a soul devoted to piety, an exalted genius, and withal a studious application. For David's harp abhors a profane finger, and disdains to answer to an unskilful or a careless touch. A meaner pen may imitate at a distance, but a complete translation, or a just paraphrase, dernands a rich treasury of diction, and exalted fancy, a quick taste of devout passion, together with judgment strict and severe to retrench every luxuriant line, and to maintain a religious sovereignty over the whole work. Thus the psalinist of Israel might arise in Great Britain in all his Hebrew glory, and entertain the more knowing and polite Christians of our age. But still I am bold to maintain the great principle on which my present work is founded; and that is, that if the brightest genius on earth, or an angel from heaven, should translate David, and keep close to the sense and style of the inspired author, we should only obtain thereby a bright or heavenly copy of the devotions of the Jewish king but it could never make the fittest psalm book for a Christian people.
It was not my design to exalt myself to the rank and glory of poets; but I was ambitious to be a servant to the churches and a er to the joy of the meanest Christian. Though there are many gone before me, who have taught the Hebrew psalmist to speak English, yet I think I may assume this pleasure of being the first who hath brought down the royal author into the common affairs of the Christian life, and led the psalmist of Israel into the church of Christ, without any thing of a Jew about him. And whensoever there shall appear any paraphrase of the book of psalms, that retains more of the savour of David's piety, discovers more of the style and spirit of the gospel, with a superior dignity of verse, and yet the lines as easy and Aowing and the sense and language as level to the lowest capacity, I shall congratulate the world, and consent to say, Let this attempt of mine be buried in silence.
'Till such a work arise, I must attend these evangelic songs, which have been the labour of so many years, with a devout wish.
May that God who has favoured me with life and capacity to finish this work for the service of his churches, after so many years of tiresome sickness and confinement, accept this humble offering from a thankful heart. May the Lord, who dwelt of old amidst the praises of Israel, encourage and bless this essay, to assist Christians in the work of praise! And may his churches exalt him here on earth in the language of his gospel and his grace, till they shall be called up to heaven, and the noble society above! There David and Asaph have changed their ancient style, and the song of Moses and of the Lamb are one: There the Jews join with the nations to exalt their God and Redeemer in the language of angels, and in the strains of complete glory. Amen.
ADVERTISEMENT TO THE READERS.
THE chief design of this work was to improve psalmody, or religious singing, and to encourage the frequent practice of it in public assemblies and private families with more honour and delight ; yet the author hopes the reading of it may also entertain the parlour and the closet with devout pleasure and holy meditations. Therefore he would request his readers, at proper seasons, to peruse it through, and among three hundred and forty sacred hymns they may find out several that suit their own case and temper, or the circumstances of their families and friends; they may teach their children such as are proper for their age, and by treasuring them in their memory, they may be furnished for pious retirement, or may entertain their friends with holy melody.
of choosing or finding the Psalm. The perusal of the whole book will acquaint every reader with the author's method, and by consulting the index, or table of contents, he may find hymns Fery proper for many occasions of the Christian life and worship, though no copy of David's psalter can provide for all.
Or if he remember the first line of any psalm, the table of the first lines will direct where to find it.
Or if any shall think it best to sing all the psalms in order in churches or families, it may be done with profit; provided those psalms be omitted that refer to special occurrences of nations, churches, or single Christiaus.
Of naming the Psalms. Let the number of the psalm be named distinctly, together with the particular metre, and particular part of it; As for instance: Let us sing the thirty-third psalm, second part, common metre; or, let us sing the ninety-first psalm, first part, beginning at the pause, or ending at the pause; or, let us sing the eightyfourth psalm as the hundred and forty-eighth psalm, &c. And then read over the first stanza before you begin to sing, that the people may find it in their books, whether you sing with or without reading line by line.
Of dividing the Psalm. ' If the psalm be too long for the time or custom of singing, there are pauses in many of them at which you may properly rest : Or you may leave out those verses which are included in crotchets [ ] without disturbing the sense: Or in some places you may begin to sing at a pause.
Do not always confine yourselves to six stanzas, but sing seven or eight, rather than confound the sense and abuse the psalm in solemn worship.
of the Manner of Singing. It were to be wished that all congregations and private families would sing as they do in foreign protestant countries, without reading line by line. Though the author has done what he could to make the sense complete in every line or two, yet many inconveniences will always attend this unhappy manner of singing; but where it cannot be altered, these two things may give some relief.
First, Let as many as can do it bring psalm-books with them, and look on the words while they sing, so far as to make the sense complete.
Secondly, Let the clerk read the whole psalın over aloud before he begins to parcel out the lines, that the people may have some notion of what they sing; and not be forced to drag on heavily through eight tedious syllables without any meaning, till the next line come to give the sense of them.
It were to be wished also, that we might not dwell so long upon every single note, and produce the syllables to such a tiresome extent with a constant uniformity of time, which disgraces the music, and puts the congregation quite out of breath in singing five or six stanzas; Whereas if the method of singing were but reformed to a greater speed in pronunciation, we might often enjoy the pleasure of a longer psalm with less expence of time and breath; and our psalmody would be more agreeable to that of the ancient churches, more intelligible to others, and more delightful to ourselves.
DECEMBER 1, 1718.
PSALMS OF DAVID,
Imilaled in the Language of the New Testament and applied to
the Christian State and Worship.
Lake xxiv. 44. All Things must be fulfilled which were written in-the Psalms
concerning me. Heb. xi. 32.-David, Samuel, and the Prophets, ver. 40-That they without us
should not be made perfect.
PSALM I. (C. M.] 11 3 He like a tree shall thrive,
With waters near the root; The way and end of the righteous and Fresh as the leaf his name shall live, the wicked.
His works are heav'nly fruit. ? BLEST is the man who shuns the place 4 Not so th’ungodly race, Where sinners love to meet;
They no such blessings find : Who fears to tread their wicked ways,
Their hopes shall flee like empty chaff And hates the scoffer's seat.
Before the driving wind. 9 But in the statutes of the Lord
5 How will they bear to stand Has plac'd his chief delight;
Before that judgment-seat, [hand By day he reads or hears the word,
Where all the saints at Christ's right. And meditates by night.
In full assembly meet?
6 He knows, and he approves 3 (He like a plant of generous kind The way the righteous go; By living waters set,
But sinners and their works shall meet Safe from the storms and blasting wind, A dreadful overthrow.
Enjoys a peaceful state.]
PSALM I. (L. M.]
The difference between the righteous and
the wicked. Like clusters on the vine.
1 HAPPY the man, whose cautious feet, 3 Not so the impious and unjust
Shun the broad way that sinners go, What vain designs they form!
Who hates the place where atheists meet Their hopes are blown away like dust, And fears to talk as scoffers do. Or chaff before the storm.
2 He loves t'employ his morning light 6 Sinners in judgment shall not stand Amongst the statutes of the Lord; Amongst the sons of grace,
And spends the wakeful hours of night, When Christ the judge at his right-hand With pleasure pond'ring o'er the word. Appoints his saints a place.
3 He, like a plant by gentle streams, 7 His eye beholds the path they tread, Shall flourish in immortal green; His heart approves it well;
And heav'n will shinewith kindest beams Bat crooked ways of sinners lead On ev'ry work his hands begin. Down to the gates of hell.
4 But sinners find their counsels crost, PSALM I. (S. M.]
As chaff before the tempest flies;
So shall their hopes be blown and lost, The saint happy, the sinner miserable. When the last trumpet shakes the skies. I THE man is ever blest
5 In vain the rebel seeks to stand Who shuns the sinner's ways,
In judgment with the pious race; Among their counsels never stands, The dreadful judge with stern command
Nor takes the scorner's place. Divides him to a différent place. ? But makes the law of God
6 “Straight is theway my saints have trod His study and delight,
“ I blest the path, and drew it plain ;, Amidst the labours of the day,
“Butyouwouldchoose the crooked road, And watches of the night.
“ And down it leads to endless pain.