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Copyright, 1914, by CHARLES SCRIBNER'S SONS

Published November, 1914

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DURING the critical period of Bible study that is just passing, the Hebrew lyrics, and especially the great psalms of the Old Testament Psalter, have been to a certain extent neglected. The present generation, however, is beginning to experience the joy of rediscovering them. Like the Gospels in the New Testament, they are the real heart of the Old Tesiament. In them the innermost soul of the Jewish race is laid bare. In such psalms as the eighth, the twenty-third, the fifty-first, the ninetieth, the ninetyfirst, the one hundred and third, and the one hundred and thirty-ninth Israel's faith finds its noblest expression. These immortal hymns of praise and adoration are also the link that binds the Old to the New Testament. In their atmosphere Jesus was born, bred, and lived, Faith, hope, joy, love, loyalty, and service are the six virtues pre-eminently emphasized. A dauntless faith in God and in man; an invincible hope that the future holds in store only what is essentially good; a serene joy even in the presence of disaster and distress; a passionate love of nature, of nature's God, and of all his creatures; a devoted loyalty to the law, to the institutions and ideals of the race, and to the divine Father who inspired them; and, to crown all, a burning zeal to help the needy, the ignorant and erring, and to carry the knowledge of God and the blessings of true religion to the ends of the earth

- these are the supreme contributions of the psalms to the present age. Here Israel's greatest prophets, priests, and sages speak out of the depths and richness of their own personal experience directly to the heart of modern


The past century of biblical discovery and research has added much to our appreciation and interpretation of the Old Testament lyrics. The recovery of the ancient Egyptian, Sumerian, and Babylonian hymns has broadened our horizon by at least two millenniums. The discovery of Hebrew, Greek, and other texts, far older than those followed by the translators of the classic Authorized Version of the Bible, has made it possible to substitute in most cases original readings for uncertain conjectures. The rediscovery of the genius of Hebrew rhythm has placed in the hands of the modern translator a most valuable aid in recovering the original text. That the canons of textual revision must be faithfully applied to the Hebrew lyrics is strikingly illustrated by Psalm 18, which is quoted in toto in II Samuel 22. Out of the thirty or more variations between these two versions of the


same hymn there are at least twenty examples of scribal errors in the Hebrew text of Psalm 18, which fortunately may be corrected by means of II Samuel 22 as well as by the aid of the Greek and other versions. Like most of the books of the Old Testament, the psalms have not escaped the zeal of the later scribal revisers. As a rule these later explanatory or expansional revisions can be readily recognized; but to cut and hew the Hebrew lyrics to fit a theoretical strophic structure (as certain recent translators and commentators have done) is not only unscientific but in most cases reveals a failure to appreciate the logical and literary unity of the individual psalms. Equally fatal is the tendency to measure Oriental poetry by arbitrary Occidental standards. Another Oriental characteristic of the Psalter-the fact that its prayers and hymns are not logically arrangedhas presented to many readers and students a most serious difficulty. In this volume the Hebrew lyrics are first classified according to their content and dominant motive and then, within each group, arranged as far as is possible in the order in which they were written. The translation also aims to reproduce the measured beat and the strophic rhythm of the original Hebrew, so that general students of literature, as well as special students of the Bible, may enjoy the matchless beauty both of the form and the thought of these Hebrew classics.


August, 1914.

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