Psalms in public and private

New College Library welcomes the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland this week with a display of early psalm books.

The psalmes of David in metre : according as they are sung in the Kirk of Scotland … Edinburgh, 1596. tUR 77 1596

During the period 1564-1644, around 70 editions of the Psalme Buik were produced for used in the Church of Scotland. Known also as The Book of Common Order, the editions contained varying content which could include liturgical and catechetical texts and the metrical psalter. These books formed the rich liturgical character of early Reformed worship.

The CL Psalmes of David in Meter efter the forme that they ar vsed to be sung in the Kirk of Scotland : q vhair vnto ar addit all the commoun prayeris, with the catechisme of M. Iohn Caluine. Edinburgh, 1594. tpUR 77 1594

New College Library holds many examples of other early psalm books, such as these editions of English psalm books in which previous owners have written and doodled whilst at their private devotions. The small size also reflects their intended purpose for personal use. The two miniature volumes have lovingly made embroidered covers. Both of these tiny volumes were originally presented to the Peterhead Free Library by the Rev James Stewart, and must have come to New College Library after 1936.

Sternhold, Thomas. The whole booke of Psalmes : collected into English meter. London, 1621. tVP 33 1621. An inscription inside this volume reads “This is my mother’s book, which she did read in at the age of 86 without the help of spectacles.”

Sternhold, Thomas. The whole booke of Psalmes. London, 1622. tVP 33 1622

With thanks to Professor Jane Dawson and Martin Ritchie.

Christine Love-Rodgers

Academic Support Librarian – Divinity

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