Chanting the Psalms vs singing a paraphrase

Discussion in 'A capella Exclusive Psalmody' started by Scott Bushey, Dec 12, 2018.

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  1. timfost

    timfost Puritan Board Junior

    Thank you for explaining. I still think that we're hung up on what makes poetry poetry. Certainly there is much beautiful English language poetry that is neither in rhyme or meter. It seems that to insist we need a less accurate translation to accommodate singing is biased towards very traditional poetry and song. I think many of our translations (consider KJV) to be poetically beautiful in it's rendering of the original language. Wouldn't it be better to accommodate our singing to the Bible, not the Bible to our singing?

    Below is an instrumental accompaniment my church uses to sing Psalm 138. It is verbatim and most of the congregation either sings it by memory or they follow along in their NKJV Bible.

     
  2. Jeri Tanner

    Jeri Tanner Moderator Staff Member

    That's what some of us are not saying.
     
  3. Grant Jones

    Grant Jones Puritan Board Junior

    Just when I start to try and conclude you have to go and do this:confused:
     
  4. timfost

    timfost Puritan Board Junior

    I'm sorry, but I thought that we were considering the Psalms in rhyme and meter to me a less accurate rendering of the Hebrew words-- a somewhat accurate paraphrase more conducive for singing. Am I mistaken? Please help me phrase in a way we can all agree with accounting for all the facts.

    Thanks for your help!
     
  5. Jeri Tanner

    Jeri Tanner Moderator Staff Member

    Grant, it's really just an in-house discussion. The Reformed churches have honored chanting the Psalms, but for corporate worship, the Reformation gave them to us in metrical form. That's what we've inherited and it's good. We are singing the Psalms when we sing from a good psalter. But it's interesting to explore chant as well, which would be a private exercise, unless a denomination were to adopt it as public practice. (I'm sure others could say all this better.)
     
  6. Jeri Tanner

    Jeri Tanner Moderator Staff Member

    Tim, the assertion that the metrical form is necessarily less accurate due to using words and rearranging words differently from the original languages, has been argued to be inaccurate, because any translation, including our Bibles, must do the same thing in being translated into English. English uses a lot more words to say the same thing. If you hold to the mediate inspiration of the Scriptures, it removes that as an issue in using metrical forms to sing the Psalms. There may be other issues to discuss, but it removes uncertainty about whether translating into a metrical form can be considered a true translation.
     
  7. Scott Bushey

    Scott Bushey Puritan Board Doctor

    I really wish someone would answer the question as to if we are to consider the paraphrased translations of the Psalter as mediately inspired.
     
  8. Grant Jones

    Grant Jones Puritan Board Junior

    Thanks I was trying to me a little funny. As with any new doctrinal stance..often times my brain feels like scrambled eggs after studying. Lately I have been trying to "soak" in understanding EP/AO and just as I was trying to make a conclusion and to take a break...Scott has to go and further take my scrambled egg brains through a meat grinder!
     
    Last edited: Dec 13, 2018
  9. Jeri Tanner

    Jeri Tanner Moderator Staff Member

    I know! He made me think and I don't have time for that!! :)
     
  10. timfost

    timfost Puritan Board Junior

    Jeri, I hear you. However, this is not simply a matter of translation into the English. The English translation has far fewer words than the English metric "translation." In fact, I think the NIV is far more accurate then most, if not all metrical renditions. It seems difficult to hold to verbal plenary inspiration when there is an addition of so many words in the "translation."

    Please understand that I'm not trying to be argumentative. This has been a huge hang up for me in even understanding EP issue from their perspective.

    Thanks again for your help!
     
  11. Scott Bushey

    Scott Bushey Puritan Board Doctor

    If one says, 'No. They are not mediately inspired', thats a big problem as then we are importing man made song into our worship and no better than those that sing hymns; If we say 'yes they are', that may be another can of worms as well as we are rearranging words, adding words, rearranging the bibles chronology of the psalms, cutting out a section of scripture and placing it in a single book like the Gideons do with their NT bibles.
     
  12. Grant Jones

    Grant Jones Puritan Board Junior

    Scott,

    Are you advocating that those who are EP should no longer use the metrical Psalter, but rather should attempt some form of chanting in Corporate Worship? I am just trying to understand.
     
  13. Scott Bushey

    Scott Bushey Puritan Board Doctor

    Grant,
    I am not...not just yet. I am only probing the data. When I became EP, it was simply based on prudence alone; it seems logical to me to use the actual bible to sing, given its security, is more prudent than singing a paraphrased Psalter. Unless, someone can convince me that the paraphrased Psalter is mediately inspired.
     
  14. Jeri Tanner

    Jeri Tanner Moderator Staff Member

    Didn't I see somewhere in this thread or another one referred to that Rev. Win did say that?
    I think you either have to allow that mediate inspiration allows for translation into a metrical form, or not. (Again, am I saying this right.) To me, it does. If adding or rearranging words and phrases is permissible at all to get to an accurate translation (and we agree it's not only permissible but necessary), then you can't just knee-jerk reject metrical translations from having the quality of inspiration, just because they must add and rearrange a bit more. The issue is, do they convey the Scripture.
     
  15. Scott Bushey

    Scott Bushey Puritan Board Doctor

    For example, 'The Message' bible (if u want to call it that) is a paraphrased bible. Most all of us would burn it. However, given what u say above, Jeri, does the Message convey the scripture? I would say, some parts convey truth; as a whole, it is a mess.
     
  16. Jeri Tanner

    Jeri Tanner Moderator Staff Member

    Scott, are you still concerned about the addition and rearranging of words? Not convinced by the fact that all English translations must do this from the Hebrew?
     
  17. Scott Bushey

    Scott Bushey Puritan Board Doctor

    Jeri,
    Maybe I am beating a dead horse...we have the Psalter as it was translated into various forms; why didn't the translators of this sacred text, take into consideration that the Psalter was a songbook and include the metering and wording and include it in those translations? Is it because it is faulty or not up to par for a regular bible? Does that concern u? It seems to bother me.
     
  18. Grant Jones

    Grant Jones Puritan Board Junior

    Tim,

    I assume this is you playing? If so, the playing is quite beautiful (said in the manliest voice possible).:detective:
     
  19. timfost

    timfost Puritan Board Junior

    Yes, I just recorded it for this discussion. My dad wrote the tune.
     
  20. Afterthought

    Afterthought Puritan Board Junior

    Okay, I'll answer. Yes, a good one--like the 1650--are as mediately inspired as the prose versions. If you were in an EP church, you would see the metrical versions treated as much as the word of God as anything (but this should be true even in a non-EP church that believes we are commanded to sing the psalms). I disagree with characterizing all the metrical versions as "paraphrased" or "inaccurate" or "twisting" the word of God, but even if that were so: the meanest translation of the word of God is still the word of God.
     
  21. Jeri Tanner

    Jeri Tanner Moderator Staff Member

    No, I don't think any serious person would say it's a translation of the scripture.

    But keep in mind what was said about "paraphrase" as used in the 17th century and how we use the word today. Read the preface to the Scottish psalter. I believe those men believed they were creating a true translation of Scripture, and if so, then believed that it was mediately inspired. Don't know if they had that terminology.
     
  22. timfost

    timfost Puritan Board Junior

    I would say yes, the psalter is mediately inspired as is the LXX. Would you want to use the LXX (assuming you spoke koine Greek) if you had better translations available?
     
  23. timfost

    timfost Puritan Board Junior

    Also, even though I disagree with EP, my challenges here have nothing to do with my disagreement. If there is any merit to my arguments, they would not of themselves challenge EP.
     
  24. Grant Jones

    Grant Jones Puritan Board Junior

    Scott,

    I think you mean feeding a fed horse.
     
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  25. Scott Bushey

    Scott Bushey Puritan Board Doctor

    Ramon,
    Thanks for your reply. U write:
    " Yes, a good one--like the 1650"

    How about the Book of Psalms for Worship or the Trinity Psalter?
     
  26. Afterthought

    Afterthought Puritan Board Junior

    That is best answered via PM. I'll send you a message.
     
  27. Jeri Tanner

    Jeri Tanner Moderator Staff Member

    Maybe simply because their aim was not a translation for singing, which requires different skills, and they left that for others.(?)
    What was already in place for singing Psalms at the time of the Tyndale and Geneva (Calvin’s?) and KJV translations? I don’t know my church history on those issues well enough.:deadhorse::deadhorse:
     
  28. bookslover

    bookslover Puritan Board Professor

    Exactly. No translation can mirror the original language exactly, for the reasons you mention: the grammar and syntax of different languages work differently. Therefore, exact one-to-one translations are impossible, if you want the translation to make good sense.

    Also, why are some folks assuming that chanting of the Psalms was used in the OT? The relevant texts say they sang. Singing is not chanting. Seems to me if the EPers want to take up chanting, they need to go out and buy some Gregorian Chant CDs, so they can see just how boring chanting is, compared with singing.
     
  29. bookslover

    bookslover Puritan Board Professor

    With all due respect, this is the problem with the whole EP position. Once one gets down to the grinding details like these, no one knows quite what to do.
     
  30. Jack K

    Jack K Puritan Board Professor

    Admittedly, I am not EP and so perhaps I have no real say in this matter. But for the sake of mutual edification, and because I'm curious about your answer, allow me to lob in one question from the outside.

    If you are trying to be as prudent and safe as possible to not stray from God's commands, why are you willing to go into gray area regarding the command to sing? The command that we sing is exceedingly clear in Scripture, at least as clear as any commands about exactly what we sing. And several of the headings to the psalms suggest they are to be used with tunes and melodies. So, one could argue that what you propose is being nitpicky about the content while playing loose with the more fundamental command to sing.

    Of course, there are cultures (particularly those with tonal languages) in which a chant is considered identical to a song. But our culture really is not one of those. So allow me to suggest that your admirable desire to be rigorous and safe about content should be matched with a desire to be rigorous and safe when it comes to form. Might your proposal be settling for "close enough" when it comes to the command to sing?
     
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