Some time ago I announced a new edition of what, in shorthand, can be called the first English hymnal: Coverdale’s Goostly psalmes and spirituall songes of 1535. The edition is still in preparation, in the midst of a fresh study of the underlay of the complete English and multiple versions of the German texts, which is further resolving the distribution of some melismata and some questionable rhythmic readings in Coverdale. This effort has been spurred by the quite practical challenges inherent in performing Coverdale’s spiritual songs as I will do in the following:
St David’s Episcopal Church
Martin Luther himself was an avid amateur musician and particularly a fan of the music of Josquin. Lutheran practice in many places allowed for and promoted the use of elaborated music alongside simple congregational song. Indeed in 1524 – just when the very first melody-
The organ was used in similar ways, and by the end of the sixteenth century we have substantial organ chorale settings by composers such as Hieronymus Praetorius, Michael Praetorius, and Johann Steffens. A number of North German organists of the next generation, most prominent among them Hieronymus’s sons Jacob and Johann; Heinrich Scheidemann; and Samuel Scheidt studied with the renowned organist-
This series of concerts will present most of the songs found in Coverdale’s book in various combinations of unaccompanied melody, simple harmonization from collections of the period, vocal polyphonic settings (all sung with Coverdale’s texts), and settings for organ. I am very pleased to be joined by the choirs of St David’s under the direction of David Stevens for this project.