Hymnology Collections : Ravenscroft’s Book of Psalms

A guest post from Oreste de Tommasso, one of the Funk Project Cataloguers at New College Library.

A reprint of the tunes in Ravenscroft's Book of Psalms :  With introductory remarks. London, 1845. New College Library, Hymn 345.

A reprint of the tunes in Ravenscroft’s Book of Psalms : With introductory remarks. London, 1845. New College Library, Hymn 345.

This item, an edition of the Whole Book of Psalmes, was recently catalogued as part of the Hymnology Collections Project. It’s typical of the many nineteenth century items in the Hymnology Collection, much of which was originally collected by the Edinburgh bookseller James Thin.  The pages in the volume are laid within a red line frame border, with an initial capital letter decorated in red ink. The cover title is within a rounded decorated lozenge in a golden colour.

The Whole Booke of Psalmes is one of the most important psalters of the period, though it contains much music from earlier publications. This collection includes national hymns (such as Dumferline, Dundee, and Glasgow) whose authorship remains uncertain, while the harmonizers into four parts are some of the most celebrated musicians of the Tudor era. Names such as Thomas Tallis, John Dowland, Thomas Morley, Giles Farnaby, Thomas Tomkins, all feature here. Thomas Ravescroft himself contributed fifty-five of its 105 settings.

Hymn 345 tpRavenscroft was not only a good musician, but a man of considerable learning in his faculty. By 1598 he was chorister at St Paul’s Cathedral and graduated MusB from Cambridge at the age of fourteen.

The tunes are simple in their conception, as having a syllable for a note, thus easy to sing. It is the Sternhold and Hopkins metrical version of the psalms. Following the customs of the period, the tune was sung in the Tenor part by male voices, while the bass provided a simple foundation while the treble voices were often learnedly ornate in counterpoint style. Through the events of Civil War and Restoration, this multi-part style of singing was silenced and quickly fell into oblivion, in spite of some genuine attempts to revive it. Nonetheless, Ravenscroft’ Booke of Psalmes is the fount of Psalmody across all Great Britain, and this reprint provides a compendium-model of genuine psalmody.


The Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, v. 46

Havergal. W.H.; A reprint of the tunes in Ravenscroft’s Book of psalms : With introductory remarks. London, 1845.

Twentieth Century Religious Thought now on trial

TTwentieth Century Religious Thoughtwentieth Century Religious Thought, published by Alexander St Press, is now on trial until 19 December. University of Edinburgh users can access the database at http://www.ed.ac.uk/is/databases-trials.Twentieth Century Religious Thought is a multivolume, cross-searchable online collection that brings together the seminal works and archival materials related to key worldwide religious thinkers, from the early 1900s until the turn of the 21st century. It is a companion database to the Digital Karl Barth Library, to which the University already subscribes.

Volume I: Christianity includes the complete 17-volume German edition of Dietrich Bonhoeffer Werke (DBW) and 15 volumes of the English edition of the Dietrich Bonhoeffer Works Series (DBWE) (final volumes will be added in 2014); an international selection of English-language editions of key authors such as Hans Urs von Baltasar, Rudolf Bultmann, James Cone, Gustavo Gutiérrez, Adolf von Harnack, Henri de Lubac, Wolfhart Pannenberg, Rosemary Radford Ruether, Dorothee Sölle, and Ernst Troeltsch; and a selection of the papers of Reinhold Niebuhr.

Chinese rare books on display for Peking University at Edinburgh Day

Inglis-23New College Library was part of the University of Edinburgh’s Peking at Edinburgh day on Monday 18 November with a display of Chinese items from our Special Collections. These included the beautiful Mustard Seed Garden Manual of Painting (Inglis 23). This is a classic treatise of calligraphic art on silk, by calligraphers Wen-Yuan T’ang and Chin-Ch’ang in 1682.

Inglis 20Also on display was Robert Morrison’s Chinese New Testament (Inglis 20). Robert Morrison (1782–1834) arrived in China in September 1807, on the commission of the London Missionary Society first to learn Chinese, and then to make a Chinese translation of the Bible.


CSWCWe were also pleased to have on display a rare item from the Centre for the Study of World Christianity Archives, an Imperial Edition of the New Testament. Thank you to Dr Alexander Chow for providing this information about the item :

“This is a rare edition of the New Testament presented by a group of female missionaries to the Empress Dowager Cixi, on the occasion of her 60th birthday in 1894. The Bible is a Shangdi edition of the Delegates Version, printed in classical wenli Chinese by the American Bible Society. This particular copy was presented to the Church of Scotland missions hospital by the American Bible Society in October 1903. There were 250 copies of this Bible printed.”

In the beginning was the word : Bibles at New College Library

Yesterday we were pleased to welcome staff and students on exchange from Dartmouth College, USA to a classroom session viewing items from New College Library’s historic Bibles collection. Examples included a 1478 early Bible Latin manuscript version from our Incunabula Collection and our very earliest printed Bible, a Greek New Testament printed in Strassburg in 1524. The English Reformation was well represented by a Cranmer’s Bible (1541), a Matthew’s Bible (1549), a Bishop’s Bible (1585),  a 1599 Geneva Bible and a 1611 King James version.

Our 1579 Bassandyne Bible has particular Scottish significance. Bassandyne was a Scotsman, who lived in Edinburgh in a house beside John Knox’s. He printed the first Bible published in Scotland, a Geneva version which became the regular pulpit Bible throughout Scotland.

The rich diversity of Bibles at New College Library was also shown by the  Polyglot Bible – The Antwerp (1569), which contains the Bible text in Latin, Greek, Hebrew and Syriac. This was produced under the patronage of Philip II of Spain, at the suggestion of the famous printer, Christopher Plantin.  Printed in Antwerp, it was sent to Spain by sea  but the ship was wrecked and most of the volumes perished with it, only some 200 being rescued. Of these New College Library possesses one complete copy in excellent condition. The Polyglot Bible relied on the Bomberg Bible for its Hebrew text, which we were also able to have on display. New College Library holds the 1545 or second edition of the Bomberg Bible in its Dalman Christie Collection, which was recently catalogued as part of the Funk Projects.

Ancient Language Encyclopedias from Brill now on trial

Encyclopedia of Hebrew Language and LinguisticsTrial access is now available to the Encyclopedia of Hebrew Language and Linguistics Online, and the Encyclopedia of Ancient Greek Language and Linguistics, published by Brill.Access is via the eresources trials page or via Brill Reference Online.

The Encyclopedia of Hebrew Language and Linguistics Online offers a systematic and comprehensive treatment of all aspects of the history and study of the Hebrew language from its earliest attested form to the present day.

GreekThe Encyclopedia of Ancient Greek Language and Linguistics (EAGLL) is a unique work that brings together the latest research from across a range of disciplines which contribute to our knowledge of Ancient Greek. It is an indispensable research tool for scholars and students of Greek, of linguistics, and of other Indo-European languages, as well as of Biblical literature.

The trial access period ends on 10 December 2013.


Religion by numbers : looking at census data

World Religion DatabaseWant to find out more about how the religious landscape of Scotland today?

A significant seminar “The Religious Life of Scotland Today: Insights from the 2011 Census” is being held on Thursday 21st November, 12.30 – 2.00 pm, 19 George Square, Room G2.  Organised by Professor Hugh Goddard, Director of the HRH Prince Alwaleed bin Talal Centre for the Study of Islam in the Contemporary World, University of Edinburgh, speakers include Amy Wilson,  Head of Census Statistics at the National Records of Scotland.

In 2013 the Library added The World Religion Database (WRD) to its online resources. It contains detailed statistics on religious affiliation for every country of the world. It provides source material, including censuses and surveys, as well as best estimates for every religion to offer a definitive picture of international religious
demography. The Library also subscribes to its partner database, the World Christian Database, which provides comprehensive statistical information on Christian denominations worldwide. Extensive data are available on 9,000 Christian denominations, 13,000 ethnolinguistic peoples, as well as data on 5,000 cities, 3,000
provinces and 239 countries. Information is readily available on
religious activities, growth rates, religious literature, worker
activity, and demographic statistics.

New books at New College Library – November

Anthrology of Buddhism and HinduismUnusual RelationshipNew College Library has a regular display of new books at the far end of the Library Hall, close to the door to the stacks.

New this month is The anthropology of Buddhism and Hinduism : Weberian themes by David Gellner, on the shelf in Reserve at  BQ384 Gel.
Also new is An unusual relationship : Evangelical Christians and Jews, by Yaʻaḳov Ariʼel at  BR1641.J83 Ari.

These titles were purchased for Religious Studies at the School of Divinity, Edinburgh University.

You can see an regularly updated list of new books for New College Library on the Library Catalogue – choose the New Books Search and limit your search to New College Library. Here’s a quick link to new books arriving in the last few weeks. A word of caution – some of the books listed here may still be in transit between the Main Library (where they are catalogued) and New College Library, so not on the shelf just yet.