07 December 2003

The Psalms in Scots

As heirs of the Calvinist Reformation under John Knox, the Scots have been singing metrical psalms since the 16th century, and most notably since the publication of the Scottish Psalter of 1650. But these psalms were rendered in the standard English of the day. In the 20th century a prose translation of the Psalms was made in the Scots tongue, famously used in the poetry of Robert Burns. Here is the well-known 23rd Psalm translated into Scots:

Psalm XXIII.

The sheep-keepin o' the LORD's kind an' canny, wi' a braw howff at lang last: David keeps his sheep; the LORD keeps David.
Ane heigh-lilt o' David's.

THE LORD is my herd, nae want sal fa' me:
2 He louts me till lie amang green howes; he airts me atowre by the lown watirs:
3 He waukens my wa'-gaen saul; he weises me roun, for his ain name's sake, intil right roddins.
4 Na! tho' I gang thro' the deadmirk-dail; e'en thar, sal I dread nae skaithin: for yersel are nar-by me; yer stok an' yer stay haud me baith fu' cheerie.
5 My buird ye hae hansell'd in face o' my faes; ye hae drookit my head wi' oyle; my bicker is fu' an' skailin.
6 E'en sae, sal gude-guidin an' gude-gree gang wi' me, ilk day o' my livin; an' evir mair syne, i' the LORD'S ain howff, at lang last, sal I mak bydan.

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