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Bay Psalm Book

BAY PSALM BOOK

BAY PSALM BOOK. The Bay Psalm Book, formally titled The Whole Book of Psalmes Faithfully Translated into English Metre (1640), was the first book printed on Anglo-American soil. The Puritan divines of the Massachusetts Bay Colony set out to produce a translation from the Hebrew that was reflective of their unique brand of Calvinism and more literal than the most popular Psalter of the day. Although approximately thirty clergymen contributed to the book, Richard Mather, John Eliot, and Thomas Welde were its primary authors. Scholars have disputed the authorship of the preface, some attributing it to Mather and others to John Cotton.

The use of the Bay Psalm Book in both public services and private devotions underscores the central place of song in Puritan religious life. The book's cultural significance was originally underestimated by modern scholars because of its awkward poetic style, but recent interpreters point out that the authors' primary aim was to translate the Scriptures as literally as possible into musical form. Furthermore, they stress that the book is an artifact of a society that defined itself through oral communication, and that its unsophisticated rhymes and phrasing facilitated memorization in an age when many could not read. The Bay Psalm Book went through twenty-seven editions, the last of which appeared in 1762.

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Amory, Hugh, and David D. Hall, eds. The Colonial Book in the Atlantic World. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2000.

Hambrick-Stowe, Charles E. The Practice of Piety: Puritan Devotional Disciplines in Seventeenth-Century New England. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1982.

Haraszti, Zoltán. The Enigma of the Bay Psalm Book. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1956.

K. HealanGaston

See alsoPuritans and Puritanism .

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Bay Psalm Book

Bay Psalm Book, common hymnal of the Massachusetts Bay colony. Written by Richard Mather, John Eliot, and Thomas Weld, it was published in 1640 at Cambridge as The Whole Book of Psalms Faithfully Translated into English Metre. The announced effort of the authors to make a literal rendering at the expense of elegance is successful if the crudity of the verse be a criterion. This was the first book published in the Thirteen Colonies.

See Z. Haraszti, The Enigma of the Bay Psalm Book (1956).

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"Bay Psalm Book." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. . Encyclopedia.com. 18 Feb. 2018 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

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