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please chiefly from their novelty, will in their turn be displaced ; but there will always remain a few, (fortunate the poet who can contribute but one or two to the number,) which will live and give life, and be used in the church and the closet, as long as the language, that is to say, as long as the world shall last.
Mr. Lyte is well-known to our readers, and we announced this work as preparing for publication in our notice of his Religious Poems. The design and character of the volume will best be learned from his own explanation. After remarking that, notwithstanding some happy occasional specimens, a good metrical. translation of the Psalms is still a desideratum in our language, Mr. Lyte says:
The Author of this little volume has not had the temerity to hope that he could supply this deficiency. Instead of attempting a new Version of Psalms, he has contented himself with endeavouring to condense the leading sentiments of each into a few verses for congregational singing. The modern practice of using only three or four verses at a time would render the great majority of the Psalms, if literally translated, unfit, on the score of length, for public worship; and a few ill-connected verses detached from the rest can scarcely give a more just view of the harmonious whole, than a few bricks can of the building, of which they may have formed a part. The Author has therefore simply endeavoured to give the Spirit of each Psalm in such a compass as the public taste would tolerate, and to furnish, sometimes, when the length of the original would admit of it, an almost literal translation, sometimes a kind of spiritual paraphrase, and at others even a brief commentary on the whole Psalm. He feels in truth that, in order to render the Psalms fully applicable to a Christian audience, considerable liberties must be allowed in the way
of adaptation. They ought, he thinks, to be made to express all that David himself would have expressed, had he lived under the superior light which we enjoy, and beheld, not the mere twilight of the yet unrisen “Sun of Righteousness," but, like ourselves, the splendour of His meridian day. What therefore he darkly intimates respecting Christ and His Gospel, (and the Psalms are full of such intimations,) the Author has in many instances endeavoured to unfold and expand, and adapting the whole in some degree to present times, usages, and circumstances, he has sought to preserve the spirit of the originals, while he has somewhat altered the letter.' pp. iii-v.
For our own part, we much prefer, for the purposes of Christian worship, free imitations of the Psalms to accommodated versions which neither retain the language and sentiment of David, nor yet possess the genuine character of a Christian hymn. We could wish to see more of the Spirit of the Psalms of those especially which were composed for worship-transfused into our hymns; but we question the propriety, and certainly must deny the good effect, of putting force upon the compositions of the inspired Psalmist, in order to make them speak evangelical
VOL. XII. - N.S.
language, and to adapt to the purpose of Psalmody, what would never have been intended for the general worship of the Church.
Mr. Lyte has, however, been very happy in his spirited imitation of some Psalms which, though, in the letter, not applicable to the circumstances of the Church, admit of an accommodation of the sentiment. We may instance the XXth., which primarily refers to some military expedition and victory; and Dr. Watts has accordingly turned it into a psalm, "for a day of 'prayer in time of war. Mr. Lyte's can hardly be called a version,-it is a perversion of the Psalm, but a beautiful and allowable perversion, for which he must not only be forgiven, but thanked.
· The Lord in trouble hear thee,
And help from Zion send;
To comfort and befriend!
Thy earthly wants supply,
To endless life on high !
His banner bright shall wave:
The Lord his flock will save :
Their steps will safely bear ;
And hear their every prayer.
No ill can thee betide.
Thy Guardian at thy side.
Their weakness soon shall see ;
And God shall succour thee.'
Our readers may not be displeased at having the opportunity of comparing with this free imitation, a more literal version, in French, of the same Psalm, taken from the Chants Chrétiens ;' and another in English, in which the attempt has been made to preserve the lyrical spirit of the original.
• Que le Seigneur tes veux entende
Dans ta nécessité !
Dans ton adversité !
Thy success our hearts shall cheer:
We with glad acclaim
In Jehovah's name.
Will bis servant shield,
Guard me in the field.
Who outspread the skies.
We shall victors rise.
Hear us in our fervent cry.' As a further specimen of Mr. Lyte's 'Spirit of the Psalms ', we take two Versions of the Ninety-first Psalm, both very pleasing, although the first is best adapted for public use.
• There is a safe and secret place
Beneath the wings divine,
O be that refuge mine !
He rests secure in God.
And aid with friendly arm ;
May hate, but cannot harm.
Of love and truth divine.
How rich a lot is thine !
An ear for every call,
And heaven to crown it all!'
O how safe, how happy he,
Sheltered 'neath Almighty wings,
pp. 130–132. The versification of these psalms is in general so smooth and musical, that we are surprised at finding any instances of unreadable and unsingable lines : e. g.
- Is man’s, fallen man's, without, within.' p. 78. We must beg Mr. Lyte to dismiss the uncouth abbreviation, neath. Will he
Will he accept the following emendation of a verse in his version of the xciiid Psalm, in which this inelegance occurs, and the last line of which is rendered more smooth and more emphatic by a simple transposition ?
· Hark, the deep winds lift up their voice;
And rage or rest as he commands.' We shall give one more specimen from this very pleasing and acceptable volume. The following is one of the most perfect of the series.