THE AUTHORISED VERSION OF THE PSALMS. [TO THE EDITOR OF
Sta,—In an interesting review of Dr. Cobb's "Book of Psalms" in last week's Spectator the writer, in justly praising the Prayer-book Version, compares a verse of the 137th Psalm with the corresponding Authorised Version, and imagines that "no one with any taste for literature can hesitate between these two renderings as regards artistic excellence." I quite agree in this belief; but whether my taste is good or bad, it would lead me to exactly the opposite conclusion. Each of the examples given—the 137th, the 99th, and the 23rd—seems to me to weaken the critic's decision. To these I would add the 18th and 84th Psalms, and the 90th, as compared in the Prayer-book and the Authorised Versions. The former is quaint, homely, vigorous, and idiomatic ; but it is often cumbersome or weak in its constructions, and often prosaic and pedestrian in its effect. The latter is quite as forcible, but is smoother, more harmonious, more dignified. Its diction is more poetical and its style more classical. Those who know and love both versions can surely enjoy the homely and racy turns of the earlier one without disparaging the more stately and harmonious style of the later. To apply another test, may I ask the reviewer to compare the two versions of the Psalms with the other great poetical passages in the Old Testament, and tell us which of the two is more akin to the Song of Moses, the Song of Deborah, and the finest passages in the Books of Job or the prophecies of Isaiah ?—I am, Sir, P.-S.