I am discovering that A) I am apparently more hide-bound than I thought I was, B) that I am hide-bound about the weirdest things, C) I am mildly annoyed by something that doesn’t even affect me, and D) that it is really, really difficult to lay hands on a copy of the CoE BCP.
What I really want is nothing more or less than a Coverdale Psalter, but as far as I can tell a single volume of Coverdale’s Psalter (with numbered verses, that’s very important; Lutherans Online has a lovely PDF of a mildly-modernized CP but there are NO VERSE NUMBERS ARGH) does not exist. Coverdale’s Psalms are still in use… in the CoE’s Book of Common Prayer.
So, okay, I’ll buy a copy of the BCP. It can hang out with my ’79 Episcopal BCP and they can be friends. Awesome.
Except that apparently someone somewhere decided that the BCP was, I don’t know, too convenient or something. The CoE has been infested with ‘Common Worship’, which is basically all of the bits of the BCP/Alternative Service Book broken up into separate volumes. Like, six of them. This is where the hide-bound bit comes in: all I can think is that I have enough trouble juggling the BCP and the hymnal and the bulletin, why in the name of all that is seen and unseen does anyone want to ADD another volume (or two) to that? *Grumble* What’s wrong with one book, I ask you? You kids get offa my lawn!
One of the other problems with the Common Worship book(s) is that the Psalter isn’t Coverdale’s–or it is, but modernized. I’m all for modernized-yet-still-poetic versions of the Psalms! I love the adaptation of them that’s found in the Psalter in my EBCP.
Thing is, though, that they are modern and some of them are fairly different from Coverdale’s version.
For instance, our friend Psalm 121. The first line in my EBCP says, “I lift up my eyes to the hills; from where is my help to come?”
Coverdale says, “I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills, from whence cometh my help.”
That’s not a question, that’s a statement. Unless it’s some kind of punctuation weirdness? Now I have to go find out the history of the question mark. Excuse me. Here I am–while mildly entertaining, it wasn’t terribly helpful. All right, so let’s see what people who’ve read more bibles than I have to say…
(As an aside, I would like to have the non-word “prayerfully” struck (preferably by lightning) from all vocabularies everywhere.)
(…I can’t decide if I want to object to ‘literalness’. On the one hand, I don’t like it. On the other, ‘literality’ isn’t a word. It feels nicer in the mouth, to me–and it’s the quality of being literal, yes?)
(This… This page is written by a person or persons with some good ideas, but I don’t enjoy reading it because I feel like I’m being shouted at while they’re throwing rocks at me. Ugh.)
(On the other hand, Paul Stroble offers an explanation as to why Episcopalians (and, I’m assuming, other members of the Anglican communion) sing ALL the verses: “[…] It is the same with “A Mighty Fortress is Our God”: if we only sing verse one, the devil wins.” Yes, I know, that’s not precisely what he meant but I take my fun where I can get it.)
Okay, I give up on Shouty-Pants over there. The consensus is that there is no consensus. There is one school of thought that says the use of “whence”, meaning “where”, indicates that the sentence is intended to be interrogative and therefore requires a question mark. The other school of thought argues that it’s a statement–These are the hills (the holy hill(s), the hill upon which the temple at Jerusalem is/was located) of God and therefore they are the source of help.
The temptation to put the question mark in parentheses from now on is awful, I tell you what.
I have no idea what I was originally talking about… Oh, right. The difference between Coverdale and the modernized version of Psalms. Here’s another example, this time from Psalm 91 (one oft-quoted by Justinian.) Technically, this is recited by Ezekiel (and now that I think of it I shoooooould probably have him recite the Coverdale version. You’ll see why.)
The (Episcopal) Book of Common Prayer, Ps 91, verses 5 and 6:  You shall not be afraid of any terror by night; nor of the arrow that flies by day;  Of the plague that stalks in the darkness; nor of the sickness that lays waste at mid-day.
Coverdale, Ps 91, I HAVE NO IDEA SORRY: Thou shalt not be afraid for any terror by night, nor
for the arrow that flieth by day; for the pestilence that walketh in darkness, nor for the sickness that destroyeth in the noonday.
“Afraid for” and “Afraid of” are two decidedly different phrases, to me. Is that because I grew up learning 20th-/21st-century American syntax/connotations, or is it something else?
Then there’s the verse about being covered by feathers (Coverdale) or pinions (EBCP) — I had feathers in, once, and my mother said ‘No, that’s supposed to be pinions’. I shrugged and changed it…and then discovered that the version of the Psalm that Ezekiel and Justinian would be most familiar with said feathers. I give up! (But I’m not changing it back. I like pinions.)
So now that we’ve failed to clarify the mystery of the question mark in Ps 121, I’m trying desperately to remember the point of all of this.
…Oh! That’s it. The point is that for whatever reason, there doesn’t seem to be a mildly-modernized version of the Church of England Book of Common Prayer for sale for love or money. EVERY standard edition of the CoE BCP on the Cambridge Press site is marked “unavailable”, and searching Amazon got me bupkis. I just want a physical copy that’s been updated with current spelling and features the Coverdale Psalter with numbered verses.