The GENEVAN PSALTER , also known as THE HUGUENOT PSALTER , is a
collection of metrical psalms created under the supervision of John
Calvin for liturgical use by the Reformed churches of the city of
* 1 Background
* 2 Editions
* 2.1 1539 edition * 2.2 1542 edition * 2.3 1543 edition * 2.4 1551 edition * 2.5 1562 edition * 2.6 Editions since 1587
* 3 Worldwide use * 4 Historical significance * 5 Tunes * 6 Musical characteristics * 7 Editions * 8 References * 9 External links
After being forced to leave
In 1539 the first edition of Calvin's psalter was published. It bore
the title "Aulcuns Pseaulmes et cantiques mys en chant" (Some rhymed
Psalms and Hymns to be sung) and contained 18 psalms and hymns set to
music, including 12 versifications of Marot (1, 2, 3, 15, 32, 51, 103,
114, 115, 130, 137, 143), six psalms of Calvin (25, 36, 46, 91, 113,
138), the ten commandments, the Song of Simeon and the Apostles\'
Creed . Most of the melodies therein were familiar tunes used in the
German church in
In 1541 Calvin returned to Geneva, where he published a new psalter in 1542. Guillaume Franc, cantor and music teacher there, contributed numerous tunes for this edition including those for Psalms 6, 8, 19, 22, 24 (this tune was also used for Psalms 62, 95 and 111), and 38.
Clément Marot moved to
Containing 83 psalms, this psalter appeared under the title Pseaumes
Octante Trois de David (Eighty-three Psalms of David). In addition to
the 49 psalms translated by Marot, this edition features 34 psalms
with the text translated by Beza . The new collection was published in
Finally in 1562 a complete psalter was issued with rhymed versions of all 150 psalms. Some of the earlier melodies were replaced. The last 40 melodies are ascribed to a certain Maistre Pierre, probably Pierre Davantès. Many of the lyrics were updated or replaced and all of them were written by Marot and De Bèze.
EDITIONS SINCE 1587
In 1587, a light revision of the psalter was led by Theodore de Beza
and Corneille Bonaventure Bertram. The next editions of the Genevan
The Genevan melodies are still widely used in churches all over the
world. In particular, the melody attributed to Loys Bourgeois known as
Old 100th or "Doxology" is found in numerous hymnals everywhere.
Most of the other melodies from the Genevan
In The Netherlands, Jan Utenhove and Lukas d'Heere had translated psalms using the Genevan melodies. In 1565 Petrus Dathenus published a complete Dutch psalter using the melodies of the Genevan Psalter. Eventually this psalter became the official hymnbook in all the Reformed churches in the country. Without the support of a choir or organ (both forbidden) the precentor had to teach and intonate the songs. The quality of the community hymn singing soon began to deteriorate, and the Renaissance melodies were sung with 'whole notes' only, removing the original rhythm from the music. This practice gradually disappeared with the exception of some very conservative churches who still sing them this way today. In 1773 a new text version was introduced, and again in 1967.
Many of the Reformed churches in North America were founded by the
Dutch, who brought these Genevan melodies with them when they
emigrated. Probably the only Christians in North America who still use
A complete collection of the Genevan psalm melodies can be found in the German hymnals of the Evangelisch Reformierte Kirche , and some of them are also found in the hymnals of other Protestant churches in Germany. They are even to be found in some Roman Catholic hymnbooks in use in Germany.
The Polish composer
Wojciech Bobowski , who later converted to Islam
and took the name
Ali Ufki , modified the first fourteen psalms to the
Turkish tuning system, writing Turkish texts to fit the Genevan tunes.
In Italy the Jewish composer
Salamone Rossi wrote motets based on the
Genevan melodies. A small number of Genevan psalms found their way
into the Lutheran church tradition. Hence there are a number of these
melodies in the compositions of
Johann Sebastian Bach
Not quite a dozen years after the publication of the Genevan Psalter
in 1573, the Lobwasser
A Czech-language edition of the Genevan Psalms was prepared by Jiří Strejc (also known as Georg Vetter, 1536-1599), who was born in the Moravian village of Zábřeh and became a minister in the Unity of the Brethren , the ecclesiastical heirs of the ill-fated pre-reformer Jan Hus (c. 1369-1415). It was still being used as recently as the turn of the last century.
In Hungary Albert Szenczi Molnár versified the psalms in the Hungarian language, and they are still sung today in the Reformed Church congregations in the Lands of the Crown of St. Stephen , including Hungary and parts of Romania and Ukraine.
In the complete edition of 1562 only 124 tunes were used for the 150 psalms. Of the tunes which are used repeatedly, 15 occur twice, four occur three times and one occurs four times, in the following combinations:
* psalm 5 and 64 * psalm 14 and 53 * psalm 17, 63 and 70 * psalm 18 and 144 * psalm 24, 62, 95 and 111 * psalm 28 and 109 * psalm 30, 76 and 139 * psalm 31 and 71 * psalm 33 and 67 * psalm 36 and 68 * psalm 46 and 82 * psalm 51 and 69 * psalm 60 and 108 * psalm 65 and 72 * psalm 66, 98 and 118 * psalm 74 and 116 * psalm 77 and 86 * psalm 78 and 90 * psalm 100, 131 and 142 * psalm 117 and 127
The Genevan melodies form a strikingly homogeneous collection. Besides the fact that the melodies were written over a relatively short time span by a small number of composers, they have a number of other characteristics in common. They are based on the so-called church modes ; the melodic range is generally within one octave ; the note values are restricted to half notes and quarter notes (with the exception of the final note); every melody starts with a half-note and ends on a breve (also known as a double whole note ); regular meter and bar-lines are absent; and there are very few melismas (only Psalm 2 , 6, 10, 13, 91, 138)
* Book of Praise, Anglo-Genevan Psalter, ISBN 0-88756-029-6 * Pierre Pidoux , Le Psautier Huguenot, VOL I * Pierre Pidoux, Le Psautier Huguenot, VOL II
Pierre Pidoux and the
* WorldCat Identities * VIAF : 185883018 * SELIBR : 248225 * SUDOC : 028657810 * BNF : cb159845