O King of mercy, from Thy throne on high

O King of mercy, from Thy throne on high. Thomas Rawson Birks* (1810-1883). This paraphrase of Psalm 80 is from Birks’s The Companion Psalter: or, Four hundred and fifty versions of the psalms, selected and original, for public or private worship (1874). The Psalm begins (in the Book of Common Prayer) ‘Hear, O thou Shepherd of Israel’, which gives Birks his stanza 2; but the translation is very free, omitting a number of awkward verses (‘Thou hast made us a very strife unto our neighbours; and our enemies laugh us to scorn’, verse 6). In the manner of Isaac Watts*, it also turns the Psalm into a Christian statement. The result is a  nine-stanza hymn of comfort and hope:  O King of mercy,...

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