Tuesday, March 12, 2019

Auden on the Psalms

From a 1971 W.H. Auden letter critical of liturgical reform:
As for the Psalms, they are poems, and to 'get' poetry, it should, of course, be read in the language in which it was written. I myself, alas, know no Hebrew. All I know is that Coverdale reads like poetry, and the modern versions don't.
Coverdale's version of the Psalms is the version used in the Book of Common Prayer.

Coverdale's Psalm 1:
  1. BLESSED is the man that hath not walked in the counsel of the ungodly, nor stood in the way of sinners : and hath not sat in the seat of the scornful.
  2. But his delight is in the law of the Lord : and in his law will he exercise himself day and night.
  3. And he shall be like a tree planted by the water-side : that will bring forth his fruit in due season.
  4. His leaf also shall not wither : and look, whatsoever he doeth, it shall prosper.
  5. As for the ungodly, it is not so with them : but they are like the chaff, which the wind scattereth away from the face of the earth.
  6. Therefore the ungodly shall not be able to stand in the judgement : neither the sinners in the congregation of the righteous.
  7. But the Lord knoweth the way of the righteous : and the way of the ungodly shall perish.

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