[THE PSALMS HYMNS, AND SPIRITUAL SONGS, OF THE OLD & NEW- TESTAMENT: FAITHFULLY TRANSLATED INTO ENGLISH MEETER. FOR THE USE, EDIFICATION AND COMFORT OF THE SAINTS IN PUBLICK AND PRIVATE, ESPECIALLY IN NEW-ENGLAND]
by [Bay Psalm Book]
[Boston: Printed by B. Green, for Benjamin Eliot, and Nicholas Boone, 1705. 3-505,pp. Titlepage in expert facsimile. 16mo. Contemporary paneled calf with later metal clasp. Small chips to boards, edge wear and rubbing. Contemporary ink inscriptions on endpapers, small paper bookplate and withdrawal stamp on the front pastedown from the Fitchburg Historical Society. Marginal chipping, some tears, a few leaves with minor loss. In unsophisticated original condition, very good. In a half morocco box. The extraordinarily rare twelfth edition of the Bay Psalm Book, one of the most famous of all American books. The first edition of the Bay Psalm Book, printed in Cambridge, Massachusetts in 1640, is the first book printed in what is now the United States, and an impossible rarity, with only eleven surviving copies. Besides its fame as an imprint, the Bay Psalm Book is a unique expression of the theological tenets which founded New England and American Protestantism. Its translation and longevity as a text lie at the heart of the American religious experience. At the time of the founding of the Massachusetts Bay Colony in 1630, the standard English hymn book, translated by Thomas Sternhold and John Hopkins, had gone through almost two hundred editions. In the meantime, in 1612, the Separatist Puritans had published, in exile in Holland, their own, stricter translation of the Psalms from the original Hebrew. This was used in the Puritan settlement at Plymouth. The Congregational ministers who controlled the Bay Colony felt there were many errors in the Sternhold-Hopkins version, but wished to disassociate themselves from the radicals at Plymouth. They determined to make a new translation from the original Hebrew, a task accomplished in 1639. The new translation was the work of many hands, although the primary translators were Richard Mather, father of Increase and grandfather of Cotton; John Eliot, later famous as the Apostle to the Indians and creator of the Eliot Indian Bible, and Thomas Welde, author of important tracts on early New England. For more than a century, this translation, quickly and almost universally referred to as the Bay Psalm Book, became the primary hymn book of New England, passing through more than fifty editions in Massachusetts and in England, where it was adopted by many Non-Conformist congregations. Psalm books and hymn books were literally read to pieces. Despite the rather high survival rate of the first edition, only seven perfect and four imperfect copies survive of the next eleven American editions. There are no surviving copies of some editions, only imperfect survivors of others, issued between 1651 and 1705. Below are the editions and the known copies, which are concentrated in the holdings of the Massachusetts Historical Society, where they were vigorously collected during the 19th century, and the former William G. Mather collection, mostly collected 1910-1930, and given to the University of Virginia during World War II as a gift of philanthropist Tracy G. McGregor. The only exceptions are the two copies of the third edition, at New York Public and John Carter Brown, the copy of the ninth at the British Library, and the present copy. After the first edition, these are the known copies of the next eleven editions: 2nd edition, 1648? No known copy. 3rd edition, Cambridge, Samuel Green, 1651. Two complete copies, New York Public Library (NN) and John Carter Brown Library (RPJCB). 4th-6th editions. No known copies, although there is a reference to a Cambridge, 1668 edition. There were editions published in England for Boston booksellers during this period which may account for these designations. 7th edition, Boston, Benjamin Harris, 1693. One complete copy in a private collection. 8th edition, Boston, Samuel Phillips, 1695. One complete copy at Massachusetts Historical Society (MHi). 9th edition, Boston, B. Green, 1698. Two complete copies, at MHi and the British Library, one imperfect at the University of Virginia (ViU). This is the first edition to contain music. 10th edition, Boston, B. Green, 1702. Two complete copies, ViU and Harvard, one imperfect at ViU. This edition has several variant titlepages. 11th edition. No known copy. 12th edition, Boston, B. Green, 1705. One imperfect copy at the ViU (lacking fifty-eight leaves and described by its own institution as a "mutilated copy"), and the present copy (lacking only the titlepage and minor portions of a few leaves). Virtually no new copies of early editions of the Bay Psalm Book have appeared since the collecting efforts of William G. Mather, which ended around 1930. Since then, this is the only copy of any of the first twelve editions to come to the market. An extraordinary rare opportunity to acquire the earliest obtainable American edition of the Bay Psalm Book. BRISTOL B270. SHIPTON & MOONEY 39420. ESTC W4786. HOLMES, MINOR MATHERS 53-G. BRITTON & LOWENS, AMERICAN SACRED MUSIC IMPRINTS 38 (entries 35-53 list all the editions of the Bay Psalm Book to contain music).
(Inventory #: WRCAM51124)
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