removal of Guillaume Franc to Lausanne in 1545 [see Franc in Appendix] his place was given to Bourgeois jointly with a Genevan named Guillaume Fabri, the former receiving 60, the latter 40 florins of the salary of 100 florins which had been paid to Franc. Of the personal history of Bourgeois we know nothing beyond what may be gathered from some notices of him in the registers of the Council of Geneva. These are curious as illustrative of the place and the time. In 1547 the Council admitted him gratuitously to the rights of citizenship 'in consideration of his being a respectable man and willing to teach children.' Shortly afterwards, to enable him the better to pursue his studies, they exempted him from duties connected with the town guard and the works of the fortifications, and presented him with a small china stove for his apartment. Before long his salary was for some reason reduced to 50 florins. On his petitioning that it should be restored to its former amount, or even slightly increased in consequence of his poverty, the parsimonious Council gave him two measures of corn 'for that once, and in consideration of an expected addition to his family.' To a second petition, even though supported by Calvin, they turned a deaf ear. On Dec. 3, 1551, Bourgeois was thrown into prison for having 'without leave' altered the tunes of some of the psalms, but through the intervention of Calvin obtained his release on the following day. The alterations, however, were sanctioned and adopted. Another innovation proposed by Bourgeois fared better with the Council. His recommendation to suspend a printed table in the churches to show what psalm was to be sung was approved of and rewarded by a donation of sixty sols.
In 1557 Bourgeois returned to Paris and was still living in 1561. His chief claim to notice at the present day arises from his connection with the Genevan Psalter. The authorship of the melodies in this remarkable collection has been long a subject of controversy. It has been attributed, wholly or in part, to several musicians of the time, to Bourgeois, Franc, Goudimel, Claudin Le Jeune and others. The claims set up for Goudimel and Le Jeune are easily disposed of. Neither of these composers ever visited Geneva or had any direct relations with Calvin. In 1557, when the greater part of the Genevan psalter had been already published, Goudimel was still a member of the Church of Rome. The Genevan psalter was completed in 1562, and it was not until that year that Goudimel published his 'Seize Pseaumes mis en musique à quatre parties, en forme de motets.' This was followed by the entire psalter, first in 1564 harmonized in double counterpoint, then in 1565 in simple counterpoint (generally note against note), and lastly in 1565–66 when Goudimel produced another arrangement of the psalms for three, four, or more voices in the form of motets.
Le Jeune was but 12 years of age in 1542 when the first edition of the Genevan psalter was published, and not above 21 in 1551 when the whole of Marot's and the first portion of Beza's translations had already appeared. In 1564 he published 'Dix Pseaumes de Dauid nouuellement composés à quatre parties, en forme de motets …' reprinted in 1580. The psalms are Marot's, but the music is entirely original. Le Jeune died in 1600, and his harmonized arrangements in four and five parts, of the Genevan melodies were not printed until the following year, nor that in three parts (Book I) until 1602. But long before the psalms of Goudimel and Le Jeune appeared, Bourgeois had himself harmonized the tunes up to that time included in the Genevan Psalter. In 1547 he published 'Pseaulmes cinquante de Dauid … traduictz … par Clement Marot, et mis en musique par Loys Bovrgeoys, à quatre parties, à voix de contrepoinct egal consonnante au verbe. Lyon, 1547.' In the same year he also published 'Le premier liure des Pseaulmes de Dauid, contenant xxiv. pseaulmes. Composé par Loys Bovrgeois. En diuersité de Musique: à scauoir familiere ou vaudeuille; aultres plus musicales … Lyon.' In the latter the words of the psalms are those of Marot, but the melodies are original and wholly different from those of the former work. All these harmonized psalters were intended only for private use. Down to the present century nothing beyond the melody of the psalms was tolerated in the worship of the Reformed Churches, and it was not improbably the aversion of Calvin to the use of harmony that compelled Bourgeois to print his psalters at Lyons instead of Geneva.
Before we consider more particularly the authorship of the melodies in the Genevan psalter, a brief account of the origin and development of that important collection must be given.When Calvin, expelled from Geneva, went to Strasburg in 1538 he resolved, after the example of the Lutherans in Germany, to compile a psalter for the use of his own church. This, of which the only known copy has but recently come to light in the royal library at Munich, contains eighteen psalms, the Song of Simeon, the Decalogue, and the Creed, to each of which a melody is prefixed. Of the psalms the words of twelve are by Marot (i, 2, 3, 15, 19, 32, 51, 103, 114, 130, 137, and 143); of five (25, 36, 46, 91 and 138) with the Song of Simeon and the Decalogue, by Calvin himself, and of one (113) in prose. These psalms of Marot exhibit variations from the text first published by the author three years later, and must therefore have been obtained by Calvin in MS. from some private source. Calvin and Marot certainly met in 1536 at the court of Ferrara, but there is no evidence that any intimacy was then formed, or that any communication passed between them, until Marot fled to Geneva in 1542. The first translation made by Marot was Psalm 6, written and published in 1533 in 'Le Miroir de tres
- Book I was reprinted in 1607, and was followed by the Second and Third Books in 1608. The latter books apparently had not been published in 1601.
- In four parts.
- Specimens of the psalms as harmonized by Bourgeois, Goudimel, Le Jeune. and others, are given by Douen in his work cited below.
- Numbered L. after the numeration of the Vulgate.