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The Bay Psalm
Psalm
Book
Book
was the first book printed in British North America.[1][2] The book is a metrical Psalter, first printed in 1640 in Cambridge, Massachusetts. The Psalms in it are metrical translations into English. The translations are not particularly polished, and not one has remained in use, although some of the tunes to which they were sung have survived (for instance, "Old 100th"). However, its production, just 20 years after the Pilgrims' arrival at Plymouth, Massachusetts, represents a considerable achievement. It went through several editions and remained in use for well over a century.[3][4][5][not in citation given] One of eleven known surviving copies of the first edition sold at auction in November 2013 for $14.2 million, a record for a printed book.[6][7][8]

Contents

1 History

1.1 17th Century 1.2 18th Century

2 Title page 3 Extant copies 4 Auction records 5 See also 6 Notes 7 External links

History[edit] 17th Century[edit] The early residents of the Massachusetts
Massachusetts
Bay Colony brought with them several books of psalms: the Ainsworth Psalter (1612), compiled by Henry Ainsworth
Henry Ainsworth
for use by Puritan
Puritan
"separatists" in Holland; the Ravenscroft Psalter
Ravenscroft Psalter
(1621); and the Sternhold and Hopkins Psalter (1562), of which there were several editions. Evidently they were dissatisfied with the translations from Hebrew
Hebrew
in these several psalters and wished for some that were closer to the original. They hired "thirty pious and learned Ministers", including Richard Mather, Thomas Mayhew, and John Eliot,[9] to undertake a new translation, which they presented here.[10] The tunes to be sung to the new translations were the familiar ones from their existing psalters. The first printing was the third product of the Stephen Day (sometimes spelled Daye) press, and consisted of a 148 small quarto leaves, including a 12-page preface, "The Psalmes in Metre", "An Admonition to the Reader", and an extensive list of errata headed "Faults escaped in printing". As with subsequent editions of the book, Day printed the book for sale by the first bookseller in British America, Hezekiah Usher, whose shop at that time was also located in Cambridge.[11] An estimated 1,700 copies of the first edition were printed.[12] The third edition (1651) was extensively revised by Henry Dunster and Richard Lyon. The revision was entitled The Psalms, hymns and spiritual songs of the Old and New Testament, faithfully translated into English metre. This revision was the basis for all subsequent editions, and was popularly known as the New England Psalter or New England Version. The ninth edition (1698), the first to contain music, included 13 tunes from John Playford's A Breefe Introduction to the Skill of Musick (London, 1654).[13] 18th Century[edit] The expansion of the neoclassical movement in England led to an evolution in the singing of psalms. These changes found their way to America and subsequently new psalm versions were written. In the early part of the 18th century several updated psalms, notably those written by Tate and Brady
Tate and Brady
and by Isaac Watts, were published. Shortly thereafter several congregations in New England elected to replace the Bay Psalm
Psalm
Book
Book
with these new titles. In 1718, Cotton Mather
Cotton Mather
undertook the revision of the original Bay Psalm
Psalm
Book
Book
which he had studied since youth. Two subsequent revisions were published in 1752, by John Barnard of Marblehead and in 1758 by Thomas Prince. Prince was a clergyman at the Old South Church
Old South Church
in Boston. He convinced the members of the congregation of the need to produce a revised, more scholarly, edition of the Bay Psalm
Psalm
Book. Unfortunately, Prince’s version was not accepted outside of his membership and in 1789, the Old South Church
Old South Church
reverted to the earlier edition published by Isaac Watts.[14] Title page[edit] The title page of the first edition of 1640 reads: The Whole Booke of Psalmes Faithfully TRANSLATED into ENGLISH Metre. Whereunto is prefixed a discourse declaring not only the lawfullnes, but also the necessity of the heavenly Ordinance of singing Scripture Psalmes in the Churches of God. Imprinted, 1640 Extant copies[edit] Eleven copies of the first edition of the Bay Psalm
Psalm
Book
Book
are known still to exist, of which only five copies are complete. Only one of the eleven copies is currently held outside the United States. One copy is owned by each of the following:[15]

Owner/Library Image Notes

Library of Congress

Beinecke Rare Book
Book
& Manuscript Library, Yale University

This copy was owned by Old South Church
Old South Church
in Boston between 1750 and 1850, before passing through a number of hands, finally being bought by Cornelius Vanderbilt II
Cornelius Vanderbilt II
in 1879. It was eventually inherited by Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney
Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney
and owned by her until her death in 1942. It was bought for Yale University in 1947 by a group of alumni and friends.[16]

Houghton Library, Harvard University

Thought to have been acquired in the effort to replace Harvard's library, after its destruction by fire in 1764. It was previously owned by Middlecott Cooke, a member of the Harvard class of 1723. It carries the signature of John Leverett, suggesting it may have belonged to John Leverett, the 19th governor of the Massachusetts
Massachusetts
Bay Colony.[16] The copy is incomplete, missing 10 leaves.

John Carter Brown Library
John Carter Brown Library
at Brown University

Originally the property of Richard Mather, one the original translators, it passed into the ownership of Thomas Prince
Thomas Prince
(possibly after the dispersal of the library of Cotton Mather, grandson of Richard, in 1728. It was eventually acquired by John Carter Brown
John Carter Brown
in 1881.[16]

American Antiquarian Society

This copy lacks its title page and pages 295-296, but is in its original vellum binding. It was part of a lot of old books bought by William Bentley
William Bentley
in May 1804 for 36 cents.[16] It later became part of the library of Isiah Thomas, the founder of the society, and still carries his bookplate.[17] He later gave it to the society.[16]

New York Public Library

This copy was found when the stock of British bookseller William Pickering was sold by Sotheby's
Sotheby's
in 1855 in London after his death. It was part of a parcel of old copies of Psalms that was bought for 19 shillings by Henry Stevens. It had twelve leaves missing, but Stevens replaced them with leaves taken from the copy now in the Library of Congress, then sold it to James Lenox. The book was part of the Lenox Library until this became part of the New York Public Library
New York Public Library
in 1895.[16]

Bodleian Library, University of Oxford

Formerly the property of Bishop Thomas Tanner, this complete copy was part of the valuable book collection bequeathed to the Bodlean Library in Oxford upon his death in 1735.[16] This is the only copy outside the United States.

Huntington Library

An 1844 note laid into the book by one Sara Shuttleworth records it was previously in the possession of the Shuttleworth family, and she was passing it to her daughter. It was acquired by an antique book store in Boston in 1872; they sold it 20 years later to Bishop John Fletcher Hurst. It was bought by E. Dwight Church in 1903. In 1911, Henry E. Huntington
Henry E. Huntington
acquired a large portion of Church's library, including the Bay Psalm
Psalm
Book. It was transferred to the Huntington library as part of the establishment gift in 1919.[16]

Rosenbach Museum & Library

The most recently discovered copy, this was sold in 1933 to the Rosenbach Company for £150 by a James Weatherup of Belfast. Signatures indicate it had been previously owned by several individuals from Belfast
Belfast
and Glasgow. In 1949, it was briefly stolen by a UCLA
UCLA
student as part of a fraternity initiation.[16]

Old South Church
Old South Church
in Boston

This book was bequeathed to Old South Church
Old South Church
in 1758 by Thomas Prince.[16] It is housed in the Rare Book
Book
Collection at the Boston Public Library.

David Rubenstein

Purchased November 2013;[6] formerly a second copy owned by Old South Church in Boston[18])

Auction records[edit] A copy of the first edition sold in 1947 for $151,000.[12] A 1648 edition, described in American Book
Book
Prices Current as the "Emerson Copy", fetched $15,000 on May 3, 1983, at New England Book
Book
Auctions in South Deerfield, Massachusetts.[19] On September 17, 2009, Swann Galleries auctioned an early edition, c. 1669–1682, bound with an Edinburgh Bible, for $57,600.[20] On November 26, 2013, Sotheby's auctioned a 1640 copy owned by Boston's Old South Church; it sold for a hammer price of $14,165,000,[7] setting a new record for a single printed book.[6][8] Sotheby's
Sotheby's
confirmed that it was purchased by American financier and philanthropist David Rubenstein
David Rubenstein
"who planned to loan it to libraries across the country".[6] See also[edit]

Codex Leicester, which holds the record for the sale price of any book[6] House of the First Print Shop in the Americas John Ratcliff Metrical psalter

Notes[edit]

^ Murray, Stuart A. P. (2009). The Library An Illustrated History. New York: Skyhorse Publishing. p. 140. ISBN 9781602397064.  ^ "The Bay Psalm
Psalm
Book". World Digital Library. Library of Congress. Retrieved 7 December 2017.  ^ Graham, Fred Kimball (2004). "With One Heart and One Voice": A Core Repertory of Hymn Tunes Published for Use in the Methodist Episcopal Church in the United States, 1808-1878. Lanham, MD: Scarecrow Press. p. 167. ISBN 9780810849839.  ^ Orcutt, William Dana (January 1931). "The Magic of the Book: More Reminiscences and Adventures of a Book-Man". 1 (1). Boston, MA: The University of Chicago Press.  ^ Wallace, Robert (November 22, 1954). "A very proper swindle". Life. Time Inc: 208. ISSN 0024-3019.  ^ a b c d e BBC News: Bay Psalm
Psalm
Book
Book
is most expensive printed work at $14.2m (accessed 27 November 2013) ^ a b "The Bay Psalm
Psalm
Book
Book
sale". Sotheby's. Retrieved November 27, 2013.  ^ a b The World's Most Expensive Book? Rare Book
Book
Room, abebooks.com. Retrieved November 14, 2013. ^ "Mather, Richard".  ^ (2003) Bay Psalm
Psalm
Book. In Encarta Encyclopedia 2004. Microsoft. ^ George Emery Littlefield; Club of Odd Volumes
Club of Odd Volumes
(1900). Early Boston booksellers 1642-1711. The Club of Odd Volumes. pp. 27–. Retrieved 15 January 2012.  ^ a b BBC News: Bay Psalm
Psalm
Book: Why the £18m price tag? (accessed 27 November 2013) ^ Graham (2004, 1) ^ Turner, M (1972). "Three Eighteenth-Century Revisions of the Bay Psalm
Psalm
Book". The New England Quarterly. 2: 270.  ^ "Bay Psalm
Psalm
Book
Book
of 1640: Where Are They Now?". PhiloBiblos. November 30, 2012.  ^ a b c d e f g h i j "Census of Copies of the Bay Psalm
Psalm
Book, with Provenance, Sale, and other Relevant Histories". Sotheby's.  ^ "Catalog Record #314613". General Catalogue of the American Antiquarian Society.  ^ "America's First Book
Book
Set to Be Sold Amid Holy Row". The Guardian. December 5, 2012. Retrieved December 5, 2012.  ^ "Some highlights from past auctions". New England Book
Book
Auctions. Retrieved November 27, 2013.  ^ "Full details for lot 59". Swann Galleries. Archived from the original on December 3, 2013. Retrieved November 27, 2013. 

External links[edit]

Wikimedia Commons has media related to Bay Psalm
Psalm
Book.

Page images of the original 1640 edition at the World Digital Library Bay Psalm
Psalm
Book
Book
From the American Imprint Collection at the Library of Congress The preface to the book Reprint of the First Edition Historic Boston Church’s Decision to Sell Rare Psalmbook Divides

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