Sing a new song: English and Scottish metrical psalmody from 1549‐1640
Duguid, Timothy Charles
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The Book of Psalms has occupied a privileged place in Christianity from its earliest years, but it was not until the sixteenth century that metrical versifications of the Psalms became popular. Because of the notable influence of Martin Luther and John Calvin, the musical phenomenon of metrical psalm singing spread throughout Protestant circles on the European mainland and in Britain. These versifications knew no boundaries among Protestants: reformers and parishioners, kings and laypeople, men and women, young and old memorised and sang the metrical psalms. In England and Scotland, the versifications written by Thomas Sternhold and John Hopkins became the most popular, as editions of these texts were printed in England from 1549 to 1828. The present study considers these metrical versifications and their melodies as they were printed and performed in England and Scotland from their inception until the final Scottish edition appeared in 1640. In particular, this study asserts that the years from 1560 to 1640 saw the development and reinforcement of two distinct ecclesiastical psalm cultures, one in England and the other in Scotland. Though based on a common foundation in the Sternhold and Hopkins texts, English and Scottish metrical psalmody preserved their distinct natures. However, both traditions also influenced their counterparts. The present study considers these cross‐influences and their effect on the tensions between conformity with foreign influences and fidelity to established practice in both countries. This study finally seeks to fill two significant gaps in current scholarship. It first compares the developments in English and Scottish metrical psalmody in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. Secondly, it considers the relationships between psalm tunes and their texts, with a closer musical analysis of the tunes than has previously been attempted.