Tuesday, April 12, 2011

"A New Version of the Psalms of David, in English Metre, fitted for publick Use"

Our Education for Ministry groups yesterday had quite lively discussions on all sorts of topics, from the nature of Christ, the theology of Paul, the English Reformation and much else.

We ended a long day of these conversations with a psalm we found in the 1776 Book of Common Prayer on my book shelf. I've never noticed this version of the 23rd Psalm; it is a translation done in 1696 by William Bridgeman, undersecretary of state for King William. He did the entire psalter in English meter, and as the introduction says, it "may be used in such Congregations as think it fit to receive it."

Here is Bridgeman's version of Psalm XXIII:

The Lord himself, the mighty Lord, 
vouchsafes to be my Guide,
The Shepherd, by whose constant Care 
my wants are all supply'd.
In tender Grass he makes me feed,
and gently there repose;
Then leads me to cool Shades, and where 
refreshing Water flows.
He does my wand'ring Soul reclaim,
and to his endless Praise,
Instruct with humble Zeal to walk
in his most righteous Ways.
I pass the gloomy Vale of Death,
from Fear and Danger free;
For there his aiding Rod and Staff
defend and console me.
In Presence of my spiteful Foes,
he does my Table spread;
He crowns my Cup with chearful Wine,
with Oil annoints my Head.
Since God doth thus his wond'rous Love
through all my life extend,
That Life to him I will devote,
and in his Temple spend.

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