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ART. II. Psalmes of Dauid drawen into English Metre by Tomas Sterneholde. Cum privilegio ad imprimendum solum.* Col. Imprinted at London by Edward Whitchurche. Anno Domini 1551. 16m0. folds Geights.
"To the most noble and verteous King, oure Soueraygne Lord Kyng Edward the vi Kinge of Englande, Fraunce, and Ireland, &c. Thomas Sternholde, Grome of hys Maiestie's robes, wysheth increase of healthe, honour and felycytie. Althoughe moste noble Soueraigne, the grosnes of my wit doth not suffyce to searche oute the secrete mysteryes hidden in the boke of Psalmes, whyche by the opinion of many learned men, compreheˇdeth the effect of the wholle Bible: yet trusting to the goodnesse of God, whyche hathe in hys hande the key thereof, which shutteth and no man openeth, openeth and no man shutteth, albeit I cannot geue to youre Maiestye great loaues thereof, or bring into the Lorde's barne ful handefulles; yet to thintent I woulde not appear in the haruest vtterly ydle and barraine, being warned with the exaumple of the drie figtre, I am bold to present unto youre Maiestie, a fewe crummes whiche I haue pycked vp from vnder the Lorde's borde.Seing further, that youre tender and godly zeale dooeth more delight in the holye songes of veritie, then in any fayned rymes of vanytie, I am encouraged to trauayle further in the saide booke of psalmes: trustynge that as your Grace taketh pleasure to heare them song sometymes of me, so ye will also
In a compartment having the sun at the top, and at the bottom the printer's mark, central of anno 1545.
delyght not only to see and reade the youre selfe, but also to commaunde them to bee songe to you of others: that as ye haue the psalme it selfe in youre mynde, so ye maye iudge myne endeuoure by youre eare. And yf I maye perceyue youre Maiestie wyllynglye to ac-. cepte my wyl herin, where my doyng is no thanke worthy, and to fauour so this my beginning, that my labour be acceptable in perfourming the residue, I shall endeuoure my self with diligence, not only to enterpryse that which better learned ought more iustlye to doe, but also to perfourme, that without faulte, which youre Maiestie wyll receyue with iuste thanke. The Lord of earthli kinges, geue youre Grace daily encrease of honour and vertue, and fulfyll all your godlie requestes in hym, without whose gifte we haue or can obtain nothing. Amen."
After the Dedication follows the psalms, to the number of thirty-seven; each having a quatrain prefixed of principal matter.* At the conclusion "Here ende the psalmes, drawen into Englishe metre, by M. Sternhold." On the next page an address "to the Reader. Thou haste here (gentle Reader) vnto ye. psalmes that were drawen into English metre, by M. Sternhold vii + moe adioined. Not to the intet that they shoulde bee fathered on the dead man, and so through his estimacion to bee the more hyghly esteemed neyther for that they are, in myne opinion (as touching the metre) in any part to be compared with his most exquisite doinges. But especially for
This might be an imitation of the proem introductory to two of three psalms versified by Lord Surrey. Nuga Antiquæ, by Mr. PARK, Vol. II. p. 360,
t No. 30, 33, 43, 52, 79, 82, 146,
that they are fruiteful, although they bee not fine: and comfortable vnto a Christyan mind, although not so pleasaunt in the mouthe or eare. Wherefore, yf thou (good reader) shal accept and take thys my doyng in good part, I haue my hearte's desire herein. Farewell. J. H."
ART. III. Foure score and seuen Psalmes of Dauid in English mitre by Thomas sterneholde and others: confereed with the Hebrewe, ad in certeine places corrected, as the se se of the Prophet requireth. Whereunto are added the Songe of Simeon, the ten Commandements and the Lord's Prayer. James v. If any be afflicted let him pray: and if any be merie let him sing Psalmes. M.D.Lxj. Without printer's name. 12mo. 154 leaves.
Warton, in the third volume of his valuable History of English Poetry, has given a long and critical account of the English version of the Psalms. He appears to have seen an edition of those translated by Sternhold, as printed by Whitchurch, in 1549, and another edition (which he considered the second) in 1552. These from his account must be supposed to contain in number fifty-one. "Sternhold died in the year 1549. His fifty-one psalms were printed in the same year by Edward Whitchurch." Unfortunately dates and numbers, when accurately preserved by an editor, seldom pass the chances of the press correctly. The useful and laborious Wood is the earliest writer I have seen that assigns such a number to Sternhold; his words are, that "being a most zealons reformer, and a very strict liver, he became so scandalized at the
amorous and obscene songs used in the court, that he forsooth turned into English metre 51 of David's psalms, and caused musical notes to be set to them, thinking thereby that the courtiers would sing them instead of their sonnets." In the same column, to a quotation from Heylin's Church History, there is added, by Wood, where it states Sternhold to have translated "no more than thirty seven, [that sure is false]" Wood also states the initials T. S. are "set before, to distinguish them from others:" but I have never in any copy of the whole psalms, that appeared like an authority, been able to extend the number beyond 43, and some of those doubtful.
Warton, whose genius kept no beaten track, like the steeple hunter, unheeding land-posts, turnpikes, and tickets, while he distanced his contemporaries, left little facts to be gleaned by lesser minds; and, as this number did not originate in the History of Poetry, Ritson, who could occasionally loiter to plumb a pool for pebbles, considered the authority sufficient to repeat it.
One error in Wood is manifest,-the considering Sternhold as having "caused musical notes to be set to them;" for although he had sung them to the King and others, neither of the editions of 1549, 1551, 1552, and one by the same printer, without date, contain any musical notes. †
*Ath. Ox. Vol. I. Col. 76.
Upon this point there was considerable variation in the arrangement of the notes, and several omissions. Sixty psalms have musical notes in 1561, as well as the four accompanying pieces at the conclusion. In 1581 only fortyfive psalms are thus distinguished with eighteen tunes for the additions.
How often the psalms were printed by Whitchurch is uncertain; nor should the above article of 1551, (now first known), be presumptively considered as the second edition. Neither is it probable, with their novelty and rising popularity, that they remained, without again reprinting, until 1561, although unnoticed in the most accurate researches into early typography. That of 1561 is not mentioned by Herbert, and may be considered extremely rare. For the copy here described I was obliged from the rich and extensive collection of Mr. Bindley, whose liberal communications and assistance in researches of this nature claims continual acknowledgment. The whole seems arranged for church service, having the musical notes attached. There is not any prefixture, but, in addition to the notice of the title, at the end is "a prayer to be said before a man begins his worke," in prose, and an index.
Every reader of Warton must regret the inattentive want of accuracy in quoting the several authorities before him. Although in the present instance there appears little doubt of the statement being erroneous and first taken from Wood, yet I cannot proceed with a task, begun some months since, without acknowledging that every attempt has proved ineffectual to obtain an inspection of either of the other editions, which Warton possessed, of 1562,* 1554, or 1577, when the entire version was first published. In a complete state my best authority is
ART. IV. The whole Booke of Psalmes, collected into English meter by T. Sternhold, J. Hopkins, and
An account of this edition, with notice of any prefatory advertisement, and corrections as to the following statement, would be a serviceable article.