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ALL THE PSALMS AND HYMNS OF DR. WATTS,
BY WILLIAM ALLEN, D. D.
PRESIDENT OF BOWDOIN COLLEGE;
BOSTON, WM. PEIRCE: N. YORK, LEAVITT, LORD, & co:
Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year 1835,
BY WM. ALLEN,
IN presenting to the public a new, lyrical Version of all the Psalms, as well as a collection of Hymns, adapted to the purposes of public, or congregational worship, the author may very properly explain the reasons, which have induced him to prepare these sacred songs for the churches of Christ. And, in order to do this, he would call the attention of the reader to a history of metrical Versions of the Psalms, and to a few critical remarks upon them.
1. The first metrical version of the Psalms of David seems to have been that of APOLLINARIS, about the year 470. He made an excellent paraphrase in Greek verse. It was printed at Paris in 1580.
2. The followers of John Huss and JEROM of Prague, who died in 1415 and 1416, had among them a lyrical version of the Psalms. Huss is known to have versified the 128th Psalm ; and it was sung, agreeably to the music of that period, in slow notes of equal length. The Bohemian Brethren had a Psalm and Hymn Book, with musical notes, in 1538.
3. About 1535 or 1540 LUTHER made lyrical versions of several of the Psalms, and a book of Psalms and Hymns for public worship was prepared for his followers.
4. The Psalms appeared in Flemish verse in 1540, with music by Simon Cock. EOBANUS, who died in 1510, made a version of the whole book of Psalms in Latin verse ; which was the first Latin, metrical version. Soon afterwards CAMERARIUS versified some of the Psalms in Greek ; and STIGELIU8 of Gotha also versified some of them.
5. CLEMENT MAROT, valet of the bed chamber to Francis I, king of France, was celebrated as a poet, and wrote pastorals, ballads, fables, and elegies. About 1540, at the suggestion of Vatablus, professor of Hebrew, he made a version of about 30 of the Psalms in French verse. He proposed to substitute divine hymns in the place of the common ditties of the times, and he expressed a hope, that by this means the golden age would return. His books were very rapidly sold. Even
in the splendid court of the king nothing was heard, but the Psalms of Marot. Each of the royal family and the nobility selected a psalm, and sung it to the ballad tune, which was preferred. Prince Henry, in going out to the chase, sung the 420 psalm, “ Ainsi qu’on oit le cerf bruire,”—“As pants the hart for water brooks.” Catholics and protestants were all at first delighted with Marot's psalms. He afterwards, while he lived at Geneva, versified 20 others ; and the 50 were printed at Rome in 1542. Aster' Marot's death BEZA versified the rest of the Psalms in the same manner, and the whole 150 were published at Strasburg in 1545. Calvin, who wished to introduce general, congregational singing, approved of these Psalms, and caused them to be set to music, in a single part, in simple notes. As they were generally used by protestants, the Catholics soon interdicted them, and regarded psalm-singing as a sign of Lutheranism, or heresy. Marot’s and Beza's Psalms are written in various metres and appear in good rhyme and perfectly rhymed stanzas. The circumstance, which rendered them so generally interesting and attractive, was the rhyme. They were religious odes, in rhyme, and in a form, adapting them to be generally sung not only by the congregation, but in families. The work, as arranged for protestant worship, is generally printed with the music accompanying every line. Some of these simple melodies are retained at the present day.
6. THOMAS STERNHOLD made a version of 51 Psalms, which were published in 1549. He was groom of the robes to Henry VIII. Soon afterwards John HOPKINS, a clergyman in Suffolk, versified 58 Psalms, and, other persons having lent their aid, the whole book of Psalıns versified was published in 1562. The other contributors were W. Whyttingham, dean of Durham, whose 16 Psalms are among the best ; Thomas Norton, a barrister, translator of Calvin's Institutes, who versified 27 of the Psalms ; W. Kethe, an exile at Frankfort, who versified 25 Psalms ; and R. Wisdom and J. Pullain, who versified only one or two Psalms.
This version has much less variety of metre, than Marot's, and it is chargeable with the fault of many half-rhymed stanzas, which is not a fault of the French version. The only stanzas of this version, which are at the present day retained in any collections of the Psalms, are the following, found in the 18th Psalm, and they are never retained unaltered :
The Lord descended from above,
and bowed the heavens high; And underneath his feet he cast
the darkness of the sky.