Around the same time that Protestant scholars were refining and revising the translation that would eventually become the King James Bible, a young diplomat and poet named Philip Sidney (1554–1586) set to work producing a verse version of the book of Psalms, conforming to his own ideas about meter and prosody. Jospeh Bottum provides some background:
[Sidney’s] sonnet cycle Astrophel and Stella, with its experimental riffs on Petrarch’s rhyme scheme, helped to establish the sonnet in English as a flexible, innovative form. He wrote a romance, Arcadia, and a Defence of Poetry. Yet it was left to his friend, biographer, and fellow poet, Fulke Greville (1554–1628), to instigate the posthumous publication of these works.
The versifying of the psalms has a long history in English verse, particularly in the making of metrical versions that could be sung by Protestant congregations. . . . In Sidney’s case, by the time of his death (from injuries in the battle of Zutphen), the 16th-century poet had completed only 43 verse psalms. His sister, Mary Sidney, finished the project and, in 1599, presented a copy to the queen.
Sidney’s “Psalm XIII,” which, according to Botttom, “reflects the experimental energy Sidney brought to the making of verse,” begins thus:
How long, O Lord, shall I forgotten be?
How long wilt Thou Thy hidden face from me
How long shall I consult with careful sprite
How long shall I with foes’ triumphant might
More about: English literature, Poetry, Psalms