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« PART I. • The heav'ns the pow'r of God display,
His glory by th’expanse is shown. Day utters ceaseless speech to day,
And night to night makes wisdom known. • No human words, no living speech,
No voice articulate they send : Yet through the world their lessons reach,
Their signs to earth's remotest end.
A bright pavilion for the sun;
And joys his giant course to run. • Forth issuing he from heav'n's wide bound,
To heav'n's wide bound revolving speeds : And still throughout the ample round, On all, his genial radiance sheds.
• PART II. • Jehovah's law is perfect, pure,
And bids the sickly frame be whole : Jehovah's covenant is sure,
And renders wise the simple soul. • Jehovah's statutes all are right,
And gladness to the heart supply: Jehovah's ordinance is bright,
And lightens the dim-sighted eye. • Unsullied is Jehovah's fear,
And doth from age to age remain : Jehovah's judgments are sincere,
On justice fram’d, and free from stain, • More precious they than golden ore,
Or gold from the refiner's flame :
• PART III.
How great the bliss to walk therein! But who can tell each devious thought?
O cleanse me, Thou, from secret sin ! · And from presumption keep me clear,
That fain would sway each better sense : So may I uncorrupt appear,
And guiltless of the great offence,
O may each word my lips recite,
Each thought within my bosom stor’d,
My Rock, my Saviour, and my Lord !'
• The spacious firmament on high,' must be familiar to all our readers. It is perhaps one of the most beautiful hymns in the language ; but it breaks off too soon. It may be thought a bold undertaking to enter the lists with such competitors, but we have been induced to venture on the attempt to give the entire psalm a metrical dress with as close an adherence as possible to the spirit of the text.
Their Maker's skill, the skies :
And night to night replies.
Throughout the earth is heard ;
of Nature's word.
Like eastern bridegroom clad,
The sun sets forth : right glad,
The mighty giant seems,
His all-pervading beams.
Than all the pomp of day :
It makes the simple wise ;
Unfailing joy supplies.
Than lurks within the mine,
Yields, than this food divine.
Led by thy counsels, Lord,
How great is their reward !
But past transgressions pain me:
Lord, cleanse my heart from sin,
From all presumptuous sin.
Thoughts, words, and motives be,
Acceptable to Thee! As a companion to this morning hymn of the royal Psalmist's, we may take the eighth Psalm, which was evidently a moonlight meditation. Dr. Watts has turned it into a very good hymn of praise to the Redeemer, and with great propriety, considering the use made of the Psalm in the New Testament; but this does not appear to have entered into the original design of the royal Poet. We shall here take the liberty of again giving, first, the Bishop's version, and then our own, premising that, for the purpose of psalmody, we think Dr. Watt's version decidedly the most appropriate.
• PSALM VIII.
The infant's mouth, the suckling's tongue,
• Flocks, and all herds; the desert brood;
O Lord! Above the heav'ns thy glories rise :
Yet, to confound and shame thine enemies,
With moon and stars, each in its separate sphere,
Lord! what is man, that thou should’st hold him dear,
That roam the earth, or creep, or on fleet pinion
Soar, or that cleave the seas, he had dominion,-
Our Second Adam shall repair that fall. How excellent, O Lord, thy name through all the earth! It is by no means our wish to detract from the merit which we think fairly due to the learned Prelate for this new metrical version. We rejoice in being able to give our unqualified approbation to the direction which his labours have taken, and to the design of the present work ; and if we cannot compliment him very highly on his versification, the illustrations of the Psalms which are supplied in the notes, will render the volume both interesting and useful. We regret, indeed, that Bishops Lowth, Horne, and Horsley should have been the only writers whom he has thought it needful for a brother bishop to consult, except Sternhold and Hopkins, Merrick's Psalms, and the Lexicons. Bishop Horne would afford little critical assistance: the charm of his work is its piety. Bishop Horsley's translation is a still more unsafe guide. Bishop Mant's library must be very defective in works of Biblical criticism ; but it does hím credit, that he makes no pretensions to a deeper acquaintance with Hebrew literature than these references bespeak. This, however, is not at all the reason that he has not better succeeded in a task, the varied difficulties of which render the mere attempt honourable, and failure respectable. We think that he has undertaken too much in proposing to give a new metrical version of the whole Book of Psalms. Such a work was less wanted, than a judicious selection of the best versions which exist, together with a new version of such as have been the most inadequately rendered. It will be gathered from the preceding observations, also, that we think a metrical translator of the Psalms not likely to suc
ceed, who undertakes to adapt the originals to the purpose of Psalmody. If we would have a fair representation of the Psalmus as poetry, this purpose must be quite discarded by the Translator, and he must contine himself, as he would in translating the Odes of Pindar or of Sophocles, to giving the spirit of the text in measures that may express, as far as the structure and genius of our language admit, the character of the original. Nor must he take up the Psalms as a uniform series of poems, admitting of the same sort of treatment, and go doggedly through with the versification of them in any metre chance to turn up
in his mind. Their common title as Psalms has contributed to mislead the translator in this respect. Because they have the same appearance in the English Bible, it by no means follows, that, in the Hebrew original, their metrical structure was the same. Some are alphabetical acrostics, a sort of inversion of rhyme, and probably designed to answer a similar purpose, by aiding the memory. In some, the parallelisms are less marked and artificial than in others, and'their construction is altogether different. Those Psalms that were intended for musical recitation, appear, from the titles, to have been adapted for several different modes or different accompaniments. These and other variations of character in these ancient compositions, besides many which it has no doubt become impossible to trace out, suggest the necessity of a careful and delicate discrimination in giving them an analogous poetical dress in a modern tongue. An approach to this can be made only by endeavouring to catch the precise spirit of, the original. We cannot perceive that Dr. Mant has proceeded upon any such principle in the adoption of his metres. In some cases, the measure appears to us the least in unison with the character of the Psalm that could have been chosen. Thus, for instance, Psalm xxix, to which the solemn march of our blank verse would be, we are inclined to think, the only appropriate one,--the Bishop has selected the metre of Handel's noble tune, called the 104th : we applaud his musical taste, but not his choice of such words as these for the music.
• The voice of the Lord the darkness divides,
And deals forth his fire in arrowy flakes:
Jehovah of Kadesh the widerness shakes.
The voice of the Lord smites the oak to the ground:
And all in his temple his praises resound.