2019 prospectus

In this new year look for more self-initiated projects to be represented on this site. Here are two foremost in the queue:

Goostly Psalmes and Spirituall Songes

Myles Coverdale is best known today for his translation of the Bible and especially that of the Psalms, which was printed with the Book of Common Prayer from the sixteenth century until quite recent times. During his first period of exile on the Continent, however, he also became interested in the music being developed for singing by Protestant congregations, so much so that he undertook to adapt and around 1535 to publish a number of Lutheran chorales in the hope of introducing this practice and repertory to the English Church. In the variable course of the Reformation in England, however, his collection was banned and burned, and vanished almost without trace, surviving in only one complete copy and a couple of fragments – though not before it had had some influence on at least one other collection and on the Book of Common Prayer.

Students of hymnology know this collection by reputation but rarely by its actual content, which has not been so easy to come by. Transcriptions of a few selections from it have appeared here and there; the Parker Society republished the full text (without the music) in the nineteenth century, and Maurice Frost the tunes (with only the underlaid first stanzas of text) in the twentieth, while a microfilm of the unique original held at the Queen’s College, Oxford (and an offprint thereof), may be consulted today. Nevertheless a new edition has been wanting: the Parker Society text, though not in completely modernized or regularized spelling, is nevertheless not true to the original; Frost attempts a literal transcription of the text but, while correcting or noting a few errors and anomalies, leaves many others to stand without comment and introduces not a few of its own; and the various partial transcriptions variously impose barlines and modern meters, level rests to virgules, ignore original indentation and capitalization, introduce hyphenation, contain errors of their own, and/or are simply unattractive.

My edition presents the text in original spelling with tunes in original note-values, with some obvious errors corrected (and noted), other emendations suggested, and further questionable readings also noted. Original collation, foliation, and staff breaks are shown, source information for texts and tunes given, and indices and a few glosses provided. In the interests of practicality, clefs are standardized (with original clefs noted) and the text presented in roman rather than blackletter type. The result is meant to be an edition that both allows a reading of Coverdale’s text as printed and presents a text that is correct and accessible to present-day users.

An endless alleluia

This book introduces the hymnographer-saints recognized in the Episcopal Church: that is, persons who both have one or more hymns associated with them in the Hymnal and are commemorated on the Church’s Kalendar. The thirty or so subjects constitute a cross-section of the Church from New Testament writers to Bonhoeffer, from Syrian to Greek to Latin and finally to German and Anglo-American Reformation Christianity. Each is provided a brief biographical sketch indicating their importance in the Church’s life and history, a list of the hymns associated with them in the Hymnal, and some discussion of their contribution as the writer of the texts in question. Many literal, or more complete, or more original texts or translations are also provided for comparison with the Hymnal texts. The title is the refrain of ‘Alleluia piis edite laudibus’ in John Ellerton’s translation:

Sing alleluia forth in duteous praise,
ye citizens of Heav’n; O sweetly raise
an endless alleluia.

Ye powers, who stand before the eternal Light,
in hymning choirs re-echo to the height,
an endless alleluia.

The holy city shall take up your strain,
and with glad songs resounding wake again
an endless alleluia.

In blissful antiphons ye thus rejoice
to render to the Lord with thankful voice
an endless alleluia.

Ye who have gained at length your palms in bliss,
victorious ones, your chant will still be this,
an endless alleluia.

There, in one grand acclaim, forever ring
the strains which tell the honor of your king,
an endless alleluia.

This is sweet rest for weary ones brought back,
this is glad food and drink which ne’er shall lack,
an endless alleluia.

While thee, by whom were all things made, we praise
forever, and tell out in sweetest lays,
an endless alleluia.

Almighty Christ, to thee our voices sing
glory forevermore; to thee we bring
an endless alleluia.