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On cherubs and on cherubins
And on the wings of all the winds
Cherubins is the ancient English form of the plural of Cherub. The lameness of the second line has often been remarked, and the singularity of the two plurals of the word cherub. Some modern collections and books of music, in the attempt to correct this fault, commit a still greater, by inserting seraphim with cherubim. There is no authority in scripture for representing God as riding forth on seraphim. It may well excite our surprise, that this antiquated version, containing many passages, which cannot at the present day be read with any sobriety of thought, should still be retained in some of the episcopal churches of England.
In 1549 ROBERT CROWLEY made a metrical version of the Psalms. About this time also HENRY HOWARD, earl Surrey, and Sir THO. WYAT versified some of the Psalms.
7. About 1550 the celebrated GEORGE BUCHANAN, while imprisoned in a monastery in Portugal, made an elegant Latin version of the Psalms. Of this version the 122d Psalm bishop Horne erroneously ascribes to Zuinger, and publishes it in his Commentary with Merrick's translation. But Zuinger merely altered a few words of Buchanan's version.-DOLSCIUS made a Greek version, published at Basil in 1555.
8. About 1557 archbishop PARKER made a version, which was printed about 1570. The following is from the 18th Psalm :
"He rode on high, and did so fly
Upon the cherubins;
He came in sight, and made his flight
Upon the wing of winds.
The Lord from heaven sent down his leven
And thunder'd thence in ire;
He thunder cast in wondrous blast
With hails and coals of fire."
It seems, that in avoiding the fault of Sternhold, he made his rhymes more frequent, than a sober and correct taste would demand.
9. PETER DATHEN, minister at Frankfort, about 1560, translated Marot's and Beza's Psalms into Low-Dutch metre, adapting them to the French tunes and measure. A new Dutch translation was undertaken by Philip de Marnix, lord of Sainte Algedonda.
BERNARD WOIEWODKA printed the Psalms in Polish metre at Brescz in 1565.
STRYC, a Bohemian, admirably versified the Psalms 1590; his work has this title, Zalmowe Sw. Dawida w ryhmy Ceské uwedené.
SYLBURGIUS made a version in Greek verse, which was published, with that of Apollinaris, in 1596 by Commelinus. LOUIS CRUCIUS, a Lisbon Jesuit, published the Psalms in metre in Latin at Madrid in 1600.
In the sixteenth century J. B. CHASSIGNET, a native of Besancon, published in French verse a paraphrase of all the Psalms in various measures. In that of the 92d Psalm are the following lines.
"Soit que du beau soleil la perruque empourprée
If any should be disposed to tolerate SANDYS in speaking, in his version, of the "golden-tressed sun;" yet our English habits of thought will hardly allow us to regard the sun as endowed with a "peruke" or periwig.
10. Sir PHILIP SIDNEY, who fell in battle in 1586 at the age of 32, made a version of 42 Psalms; and the others were versified by his sister, Mary, the countess of Pembroke. This work, after slumbering nearly two centuries and a half, was published at the Chiswick press in 1823. It is written in a great variety of metre, and is in general well rhymed, though a few of the pieces are entirely without rhyme. The whole of each Psalm is versified. An English writer has remarked of Sir P. Sidney, that "his life is finer poetry, than his writings." The antiquated style and complex metres of this version render it entirely useless for the purposes of psalmody. The version of the 125th is in the rare Sapphic measure ;— "As Salem braveth with her hilly bulwarks, Roundly enforted: so the great Jehovah Closeth his servants, as a hilly bulwark Ever abiding."
The following is a stanza of the 139th:
"Do thou thy best, O secret night,
Shall vainly fail;
With day unmask'd my night shall be,
O, Father of all lights, to Thee."
11. King JAMES I. undertook to versify the Psalms, but accomplished his purpose only in part. His version, which was printed after his death, is "remarkable for its flat simplicity
and unmeaning expletives." The following is a stanza from the 74th Ps. ;
"Why dost thou thus withdraw thy hand,
E'en thy right hand restrain?
Out of thy bosom, for our goed,
Draw back the same again."
The same passage is as follows in Sternhold's version :
"Why dost Thou draw thy hand aback,
and hide it in thy lap?
O, pluck it out, and be not slack
to give thy foes a rap."
J. BERTAUT, a bishop in Normandy, who died in 1611, published a version of many of the Psalms. About the year 1620 bishop MILES SMYTH made a version of the Psalms; and about the same time another metrical version was made by Mr. DoD.
12. In 1632 GEO. WITHER published, in the Netherlands, a version, made by command of king James. He had previously published Hymns and Songs of the Church in 1623. He aimed to combine "the fulness of the sense with the relish of the scripture phrase." The following stanza is from the first Psalm:
"Like a tree, set near the springs,
ARTHUR JOHNSON, physician to Charles I., educated at Aberdeen, who died at Oxford in 1641, published a version of the Psalms in Latin verse in 1637.
13. GEORGE SANDYS, the traveller, published in a small folio, in 1638, a Paraphrase upon the Divine Poems, containing a version of all the Psalms, with tunes in two parts. This version has in many respects high poetical excellence, though it has also many faults. It contains a great variety of metres, and has no slovenly, half-rhymed stanzas. One of his best pieces may be found in this book, Ps. 148, eighth version. It has been remarked, that his Psalms, written in the metre of this specimen,-seven-syllable trochaic,-have a peculiar beauty, while in other metres he seems to lose his lyrical powers. Indeed, a considerable part of his paraphrase is not adapted to lyrical purposes, as he has versified, and frequently in the long ten-syllable measure, the whole of all the Psalms. Mr. Milner, in his life of Watts, says, that Sandys employs "chiefly the trochaic couplet ;" which is a great mistake, as only 14 out of 150 Psalms are in this metre.
14. In 1640 J. ELIOT, T. WELDE, and R. MATHER, ministers near Boston, made the "New-England Version." This was revised by president DUNSTER about 1650 and was used generally by the New England churches until, at length, it was superseded by the version of Watts. The 26th edition was published in 1744. It was revised by T. Prince in 1758. This is a faithful translation from the Hebrew; but it has no poetical merit. Most of it is written in the common half-rhymed stanza of Sternhold. The following is a specimen of the primitive edition of 1640:
"And he shall be like to a tree
That in his season yields his fruit,
But they are like unto the chaffe,
which winde drives to and fro."
The same in Dunster's and Prince's revisions is thus :
"He shall be like a planted tree
"For he is like a goodly tree
Which timely yields its fruit, whose leaf
shall ever green appear."
A copy of this version is in the libraries of Harvard College and of the Antiquarian Society at Worcester, but without the title page. A copy is in the library of the Old South church in Boston, with the title page, which is thus :-"The Whole Booke of Psalmes faithfully translated into English metre. Whereunto is prefixed a discourse declaring not only the lawfulness, but also the necessity of the heavenly ordinance of singing scripture Psalms in the churches of God.-Imprinted 1640. The names of the authors are not mentioned.
There is one sentence in the preface, to which all the lovers of sacred music, and all our churches will do well to give heed; it is this," The singing of Psalms, though it breathe forth nothing but holy harmony, and melody; yet such is the subtilty of the enemy, and the enmity of our nature against the Lord, and his ways, that our hearts can find matter of discord in this harmony, and crotchets of division in this holy melody." It was a quarter of a century or more after the publication of Watts' version, before the prejudice in favor of this New England version was overcome; and in the last century the pres
byterian church in this country found ample "matter of discord" and many "crotchets of division" in consequence of the substitution of Watts for the old Scotch version. Churches were rent asunder in the contest. Indeed the old Scots book still triumphantly retains its place in some of the presbyterian churches, and refuses to yield to the innovations of Watts, whose version was made 116 years ago.
15. A version of the Psalms by H. AINSWORTH was published at Amsterdam in 1644, with copious annotations, and tunes. The prose and metrical versions are on the same page. It has much the same rank in poetical excellence with the New England version. The following is a specimen from the 18th Psalm :
"And he did bow the beav'ns and down did pass :
And gloomy darkness under his feet was.
And he did ride on cherub and did fly :
And on wings of the wind he flew swiftly."
Some of the early settlers of Plymouth, who came from Holland, introduced this version, and it held its place in the churchof Plymouth against the New England version until 1692, and even in Salem until 1662. Nor would it have been wonderful, had it never yielded; for it was equal in poetry to the N. E. version and had the superior advantage of a good prose version, musical notes, and learned and valuable annotations.
16. In 1645 the version of FRANCIS ROUSE, which the Commons of England had two years before recommended to the consideration of the Assembly of Divines at Westminster, was revised and came out with the approbation of both houses of parliament. This is supposed to be what is commonly called the old Scotch version, which is still retained, I suppose, in Scotland, and in some of the presbyterian churches in this country. It is much of the same character with the New England version. The following is a specimen from the first Psalm. By comparing it with the stanza from the New England version, the same lines will be found in both; and it may be, that the Scotch Churches are much indebted for their book of Psalms to the Independents of New England.
"He shall be like a tree, that grows
Which in his season yields his fruit,
But like they are unto the chaff,
Which wind drives to and fro."
About this period R. GOODRIDGE made a version of the Psalms.