6 Jun 2011

Earliest English edition of Genevan Psalms?

My Brazilian alter-ego, Lucas Freire, has alerted me to the following volume available via Google Books: All the French Psalm Tunes with English Words, a collection of Psalms accorded to the verses and tunes used in the reformed Churches of France and Germany (London: T. Harper, 1632). This is the first I have heard of this version, which places an English translation of the Genevan Psalms earlier than I had previously assumed.

As was typical of the early metrical psalters, the language, while rhymed, is not particular poetic and is rather woodenly literal. Psalm 150 runs as follows:

Let vs all Gods praise expres,
Praise him in his holines.
Praise him in the firmament
Of his povver [power] permanent,
And his high magnificency.
Praise him in his greatnes shevved [showed?],
In his goodnes multitude,
VVitnessing his excellency.

Praise him, ioyning vvith the noyse
Both of Trumpets and Hautboyse[1],
Praise him in the Psaltery,
And the Harps svveet harmony.
Laud the Lord with praise abounding,
Timbrel, Taber[2], Fife and Flute,
Organ, Sagbut[3], Cornamute[4],
Laud the Lord, his praise resounding.

Praise to him for his goodnes,
Let the cymbals loud expres
Viall[5], Virginall[6] and lute,
Let not string nor breath be mute,
Him to praise let all indeuer [endeavour].
All his works, aboue, beneath,
VVhat so ere doth moue or breath,
Praise the Lord most blessed euer.

Note: Here is a key to some of the less familiar musical instruments referenced above:

1. Hautboyse = hautbois, or oboe
2. Taber = tabor
3. Sagbut = sackbut
4. Cornamute = cornamuse
5. Viall = viol
6. Virginall = virginal

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