Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Faith: Book of Common Prayer

One of the great contributions to English language, culture and spirituality is the Book of Common Prayer (BCP).

For example, the words of a presiding minister at a wedding often tracks word-for-word from the portions of the BCP pertaining to the liturgy celebrating marriage.

I've very much enjoyed reading the Psalms in my copy of the BCP.

I noticed that in some ways the words are updated.  For example, using "happy" instead of "blessed" and replacing the "thou" and "thee" language of the old English.  But nonetheless, the rhythm can cadence of the Psalms is very moving.

I started to search online to see if I could find out what translation is used in the BCP Psalter.  After much digging around and comparing well known translations like NIV, NLT and NRSV and finding these aren't the sources, I went to the library.  The NEB and REB are English Bibles prepared by distinctly British scholarship without much online presence.  Alas, taking a look at those didn't reveal a match either.

Well, the internet has the answer if you look hard enough.

Turns out the Psalter in the BCP was specifically prepared for the BCP.

The story is as follows according to Oremus.org:

In January 1999 a new draft rendering of the Psalter was published as The Psalter 1998: a draft text for Common Worship. This version is available as part of the Oremus Bible Browser. A further revision was produced in 1999, and the General Synod agreed that it should be published as the Psalter in Common Worship.

The authorized form of this service is available at the Common Worship web site
 
The psalter is a continuation of work begun in 1997 and published in the report, GS Misc 504, A New Psalter for Liturgical Use in the Church of England. This contained a selection of psalms from a proposed version of the psalter. This new version, principally the work of the Bishop of Salisbury, Chairman of the Commission, is a revision of that used in Celebrating Common Prayer. The revision is intended to produce a version with a greater resonance with the psalms as they have been prayed, including the Coverdale version in the Book of Common Prayer as well as a high degree of fidelity to the Hebrew original.

And so here below is one of my favorite Psalms in this version of the Psalter.

Psalm 42
1 As the deer longs for the water-brooks,*
so longs my soul for you, O God.
2 My soul is athirst for God, athirst for the living God;*
when shall I come to appear before the presence of God?
3 My tears have been my food day and night,*
while all day long they say to me,
   ‘Where now is your God?’
4 I pour out my soul when I think on these things:*
how I went with the multitude
   and led them into the house of God,
5 With the voice of praise and thanksgiving,*
among those who keep holy-day.
6 Why are you so full of heaviness, O my soul?*
and why are you so disquieted within me?
7 Put your trust in God;*
for I will yet give thanks to him,
   who is the help of my countenance, and my God.
8 My soul is heavy within me;*
therefore I will remember you from the land of Jordan,
   and from the peak of Mizar among the heights of Hermon.
9 One deep calls to another in the noise of your cataracts;*
all your rapids and floods have gone over me.
10 The Lord grants his loving-kindness in the daytime;*
in the night season his song is with me,
   a prayer to the God of my life.
11 I will say to the God of my strength,
   ‘Why have you forgotten me?*
and why do I go so heavily
   while the enemy oppresses me?’
12 While my bones are being broken,*
my enemies mock me to my face;
13 All day long they mock me*
say to me, ‘Where now is your God?’
14 Why are you so full of heaviness, O my soul?*
and why are you so disquieted within me?
15 Put your trust in God;*
for I will yet give thanks to him,
  who is the help of my countenance, and my God.

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