1744 Bay Psalm Book

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Haaswurth Books recently sold this Bay Psalm Book from the collection of Dr. Smoak.  We post it here for your reference and research.
Be sure to read the final paragraph about how it was discovered in 1975.
New England Divines; Tufts, John. [Bay Psalm Book] The Psalms, Hymns and Spiritual Songs of the Old and New-Testament bound with An Introduction to the Singing of Psalm-Tunes, by Rev. Tufts. Boston, N. E.: Printed by J. Draper, for T. Hancock, at the Bible & Three Crowns in Ann-Street, 1744. The Twenty sixth Edition. [9040]
An early or original leather binding, blind rules to boards, spine without label, 13.5 x 7.5 cm (5 3/8 x 3 inches), joints cracked, center crack to text block at the middle of the spine, nothing is detached. There is an ink 6 digit number at the top of A2. (2), 346; (2), (10), 12 leaves of engraved music. The music is printed on alternate facing versos & rectos. The Introduction by Tufts is in very good condition. The Psalm book has generally clean pp., some light stains, some short margin tears. There are 7 leaves with torn sections either at the bottom or side margin that affect some words/letters. They are 35-6, 37-8, 261-2, 287-8, 289-9, 307-8, & 309-10. The worst damage is to the leaf 37-8, containing Psalm 23 & 24, (see photos). The number of text leaves of both the Bay Psalm Book and the Introduction by Tufts, are complete, and the book includes the front and rear free end papers. Good.
(The above photo represents the worst of the torn pages)
(A more typical sample of the 7 leaves with edge damage)
ESTC W39013. The Psalm Book imprint is a variant of Evans 5337. No. 53 in Britton, Lowens & Crawford. American Sacred Music Imprints, 1698-1810, [BLC below]. The Tufts imprint is Evans 5502. "Music [Tufts] printed from the same plates as the 24th ed." The music has letters upon the staff instead of notes.


Complete title: The Psalms, Hymns, and Spiritual Songs of the Old and New-Testament: Faithfully translated into English Metre: For the Use, Edification, and Comfort of the Saints in Publick and Private, in New-England bound with An Introduction To the Singing of Psalm-Tunes, In a plain and easy Method. With a Collection of Tunes in three Parts. By the Reverend Mr. Tufts.


Originally titled The Whole Booke of Psalmes (Cambridge, 1640), the title was changed to that above by the third edition. The first edition was the first book printed in the American colonies and all editions have been desired by book collectors. This 1744 issue is the last of the substantially unaltered editions before Thomas Prince's revision of 1758, which BLC calls "essentially a new work."

The first generation of Puritans in New England were dissatisfied with the Psalters brought with them across the Atlantic, for, in the words of John Cotton, "it is not unknowne to the godly learned that they have rather presented a paraphrase than the words of David translated...and that their addition to the words, detractions from the words are not seldome and rare, but very frequent and in many times needless..." John Cotton, with 29 other New England scholars, set about to produce a new, more faithful translation for singing the Psalms in their churches, which has come down to us as The Bay Psalm Book.

Psalm 23 in this translation begins:
The Lord to me a shepherd is
Want therefore shall not I,
He in the folds of tender grass
Doth make me down to lie;
He leads me to the waters still.
Restore my soul doth he;
In paths of righteousness he will
For his name sake lead me.

The Tufts item is a separate piece with its own title page and is The Eleventh Edition, Printed from Copper-Plates, Neatly Engraven. Boston, N. E.: Printed for Samuel Gerrish, MDCCXLIV [1744]. The eleventh edition was the last one printed; it is a variation of no. 499 in BLC.
"If one were to choose any single event to mark the beginning of organized music education in America, it would be the publication of this modest work, containing a few pages of text outlining the rudiments of music in simple terms and a small selection of English psalm- and hymn-tunes. Before the appearance of Tufts's pamphlet, the New Englander who wanted to learn how to read music could turn to no guide published here...For a variety of practical and theological reasons, the New England clergy were deeply concerned about the problem of musical illiteracy within their congregations at that time. John Tufts was the first to do something more than preach sermons about the situation, the first to write the textbook and supply the music without which the problem could never be solved." - Lowens, Music and Musicians in Early America, pp. 39-40.

John Tufts (1689-1750), b. Medford, MA; d. Amesbury, MA. He "was a congregational minister, later a merchant, probably a teacher of singing schools, and perhaps a composer. He graduated from Harvard College in 1708 and was elected pastor of Second Church in Newbury (later First Church of West Newbury) in 1714. He was a leader in the reform of psalmody around Boston in the 1720s. The Core Repertory tune Psalm 100 New ws introduced into print by him, and it is possible the he was its composer. In 1738 he left the ministry and became a shopkeeper in Amesbury." - BLC. "Music [Tufts] printed from the same plates as the 24th ed.", p. 583.
Provenance: "N. Ely's Book, 1745" in brown ink on the ffep. Final free end paper inscribed, "Urania Stebbins her hymn Book god give her grace therein to look So that by grace She may obtain that which forever Will Remain." Urania Stebbins, née Burt (1762-1819). She married Zadock Stebbins in 1783; they lived in Springfield, MA. "Mary E. Mack, from her grandfather's library, 1826" at the top of the title page. There is a Mary Ely Mack (1787-1842), buried at West Cemetery, Amherst, Massachusetts.


The ownership is unknown until 1975 when two young seminary graduates (now Dr. A. Merril Smoak, Jr. and Dr. Terry York) entered a book shop in Sacramento, California, which Dr. Smoak remembers as Capital City Rare Books. As was their practice, they asked the owner if he had any old hymnals, explaining that they would be words only and look like little poetry books.  The owner disappeared into a back room and returned with a little book wrapped in plastic.  It had the date 1744 and he asked $100 for it.  There was no mention of it being a Bay Psalm Book.  The price was very high for the two young men and they turned him down.  After returning home Mr. Smoak looked through one his seminary texts, Music and Musicians in Early America, by Lowens.  He was excited to see that the title he had just seen at the book shop matched the title of a Bay Psalm Book!  He phoned his friend and told him to go make a deal for the book.  His friend Terry York was able to work out a plan with the owner to pay for it over a few months, each contributing $6.25 per month. The book could not be picked up until it had been paid for in full.  It has been in their co-possession since then.  Now each man holds a doctorate degree in the music field, and they have both used the Bay Psalm Book in various teaching sessions during their careers.