The Scottish Metrical Version, a Faithful Psalter
The title page of the first printing of the
Scottish Metrical Psalter (1650): "Newly Translated and diligently
compared with the Original Text, and former Translations, more plain,
smooth and agreeable to the Text, than any heretofore. Allowed by the
General Assembly of the Kirk of Scotland, and appointed to be sung in
Congregations and Families."
Robert Baillie (1599-1662), Scottish Commissioner to the
(1) "These lines are likely to go up to God form millions of tongues for
many generations: [we must] have them framed so well as might be."
(2) "In the new translation of the Psalm, resolving to keep punctually
to the original text, without any addition …"
(3) "The Psalm are perfected: the best without doubt that ever yet were
The twenty-six Puritan signatories of the Preface to the 1673
London edition of the Scottish Metrical Psalter: "these divine
composures [are] represented to us in a fit translation … The
translation which is now put into thy hands cometh nearest to the
original of any that we have seen ... that we thought fit to recommend
it to thy Christian acceptance" (the signatories include John Owen,
Thomas Manton, Matthew Poole, Thomas Watson, Thomas Vincent and William
Sir Walter Scott (1771-1832), Scottish novelist and poet: "The
expression of the old metrical translation, though homely, is plain,
forcible, and intelligible, and very often possesses a rude sort of
majesty which perhaps would be ill exchanged for mere eloquence."
Dr. John Ker: "No version has ever been made which adheres so
closely to the Scripture. It proceeds of the principle of giving every
thought in the original, and nothing more; and in this it has succeeded
to an extent which is marvellous, and which can be realised only by one
who has tested it through careful comparison ... those portions which
the heart feels that it needs in its sorrowful hours, over which it
leans and pores in its deep musings, or from the summits of which it
mounts as on eagles’ wings in its moments of joy, have a tenderness, a
quaint beauty, a majesty in their form, peculiar to that age of the
English language in which they were framed."
J. W. Macmeeken: "The courts of our country, civil and
ecclesiastical … felt that a duty of no ordinary magnitude and entailing
no small degree of responsibility, devolved on them when they undertook
the preparation of a new version of the Psalms—a feeling which the
parties appointed to give effect to their purpose in translating and
revising, warmly sympathised. They gave their whole heart to the work,
and the grateful approval and appreciation of their labours by all
classes throughout the country for successive generations, is sufficient
testimony to their success … One of the reasons—if not the chief
reason—why the earlier versions were not altogether satisfactory to
Scotchmen, was that the translation was not sufficiently ‘plain and
agreeable to the text.’ And the fact that this version of 1650 is a
translation almost as close to the original, as literal and expressive,
as the prose, constitutes its strength and excellence."
Dr. Millar Patrick, historian: "The [Scottish General] Assembly
used no half-measures in the steps they took [in revising the Psalter].
The thoroughgoing way in which they proceeded was typically Scottish.
Actually, there were six several revisions before the final result was
reached, and the time spent in the process extended to two years and
Douglas Kelly, American Presbyterian: "In this writer’s opinion,
the Scottish metrical version of the Psalms is still a highly usable,
rich repository of the deepest and broadest and most living Scriptural
piety available to the human soul."