Hopkins, John (d.1570) (DNB00)

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HOPKINS, JOHN (d. 1570), part-translator, with Thomas Sternhold and others, of the famous metrical version of the Psalms, was admitted B.A. at Oxford in 1544 (Oxf. Univ. Reg. Oxf. Hist. Soc. i. 208). He took holy orders and became a schoolmaster, apparently in Suffolk. In the ‘Epistle Dedicatory to Maister John Harlowe’ (prefixed to a translation of ‘De Pueris Instituendis’ contained in ‘Touchstone for this Time,’ 1574) Edward Hake states, that Harlowe and himself were trained up ‘with the instructions of that learned and exquisite teacher, Maister John Hopkins, that worthy schoolemaister, nay rather, that most worthy parent unto all children committed to his charge.’ He was rector of Great Waldingfield, Suffolk, on 12 Aug. 1561 (Notes and Queries, 1st ser. i. 119).

Early in 1549 Edward Whitchurche printed without a date ‘Certayne Psalmes chosen out of the Psalter of David, and drawen into English metre by Thomas Sternhold’ [q. v.] . The volume contains nineteen psalms in the double common measure, without music. Sternhold died in 1549, and in December appeared a second edition, containing ‘All such Psalmes of David as Thomas Sternhold didde in his lyfetime draw into English metre.’ This includes eighteen additional psalms by Sternhold and a supplement of seven by Hopkins, forty-four in all, without music. Hopkins requests that his additions should not be ‘fathered on the dead man,’ they being ‘not in any part to be compared with his most exquisite doinges.’ This edition was reprinted in 1550; three editions were issued in 1551, one in 1552, two in 1553; one at Geneva in 1556, with musical notes (besides the forty-four by Sternhold and Hopkins, seven by W. Whittingham were added for the first time); one in 1560 (sixty-seven psalms); one in 1561 (eighty-seven psalms); one printed by J. Day in 1562, and attached to the Book of Common Prayer (the first collection of the whole 150 psalms); one in 1563; and frequently afterwards. The British Museum contains more than six hundred editions printed between 1549 and 1828 (H. A. Glass, Story of the Psalters, 1888, p. 10). Many unauthorised alterations were introduced. The initials of the author were added to each psalm: those of T. S. (T. Sternhold) to forty-three, of J. H. (J. Hopkins) to fifty-six. The other contributors were William Whittingham, Thomas Norton, Thomas Kethe, R. Wisdome, J. Pullain, Thomas Bastard, John Markant or Mardley (Sir E. Brydges, Censura Lit. 1815, i. 69–90; S. W. Duffield, English Hymns, N. Y., 1886, p. 26; Notes and Queries, 4th ser. viii. 373, 466, ix. 59, 171). A Concordance was printed in 1694.

Hopkins contributed some commendatory verses to Foxe's ‘Acts and Monuments.’ The psalm, ‘All people that on earth do dwell,’ usually known as the ‘Old Hundredth,’ has often been attributed to him (S. W. Duffield, English Hymns, p. 25). The general opinion is that William Kethe was the writer (J. Miller, Singers and Songs of the Church, 1869, p. 51; H. A. Glass, Story of the Psalters, p. 19; Notes and Queries, 4th ser. ix. 59, 170). Hopkins died in October 1570, and was buried at Great Waldingfield in Suffolk on the 23rd of that month, leaving a son ‘to be brought up in learning’ (Wood, Athenæ Oxon. i. 185; Notes and Queries, 1st ser. i. 119). An entry in the parish register of Awre, near Blakeney, Gloucestershire, between the dates of 1570 and 1580, though probably of later insertion, has been quoted to show that Sternhold and Hopkins were neighbours. ‘The former lived in an estate near Blakeney, called the Hayfield; the latter in an estate in the tything of Awre, called the Woodend; and in the house of the said John Hopkins there is now to be seen the arms of the Tudor family’ (J. Miller, Singers and Songs of the Church, 1869, p. 49). The Woodend house has been washed away by the Severn; it is very doubtful if it ever belonged to the translator of the psalms.

In the opinion of Bale, Hopkins was ‘Brytannicorum poetarum nostri temporis non infimus’ (Scriptorum Illustrium pars ii., Basileæ, 1559, p. 113). Tanner calls him ‘poeta, ut ea ferebant tempora, eximius’ (Bibliotheca, 1748, p. 412). Warton, with stinted praise, thought he was ‘rather a better English poet than Sternhold’ (History of English Poetry, 1840, iii. 147). The popularity enjoyed by the versions known by the names of Sternhold and Hopkins was very great for three centuries. Fuller, indeed, considered that they ‘will be allowed to go in equipage with the best poems in that age’ (Worthies, 1811, i. 411). ‘Hopkins and Sternhold glad the heart with psalms’ says Pope (Imitations of Horace, bk. ii. ep. i.) The epigram of the notorious Earl of Rochester is much less complimentary (Works, 1714, i. 107). Sir James Mackintosh refers to the version in moderate terms (Life, I. ch. i.). Campbell considered that Sternhold and Hopkins, ‘with the best intentions and worst taste, degraded the spirit of Hebrew psalmody by flat and homely phraseology, and, mistaking vulgarity for simplicity, turned into bathos what they found sublime’ (Specimens of English Poetry, i. 116–17). Beveridge, Horsley, and Todd wrote approvingly of Hopkins's version.

[Hawkins's Hist. of Music, 1776, iii. 501; Burney's Gen. Hist. of Music, 1789, iii. 8; Grove's Dict. of Music, iv. 753; D'Israeli's Cur. of Literature, 2nd ser. 1823, i. 195–210; Gent. Mag. September 1801, pp. 801–12; E. Phillips's Theatrum Poet. Angl. 1800, p. 62; Liturgical Services, by W. K. Clay (Parker Soc.), 1847, p. 566; Select Poetry, by E. Farr (Parker Soc.), 1845, ii. 485; Notes and Queries, 2nd ser. iv. 351, 400, 441. The literary history of Sternhold and Hopkins's version is discussed in Bishop Beveridge's Defence (Works, 1824, i. 611, &c.); H. J. Todd's Observations, 1822; Warton's Hist. of English Poetry, 1840, iii.; Blackwood's Mag. April 1818, pp. 65–6; J. Holland's Psalmists of Britain, 1843, i. 91–113*; J. Miller's Singers and Songs of the Church, 1869, sm. 8vo; H. A. Glass's Story of the Psalters, 1888, sm. 8vo; S. W. Duffield's English Hymns, N. Y. 1886, 8vo. A list of the editions to 1850 is given in Cotton's Editions of the Bible and Parts thereof, 2nd ed. 1852, 8vo.]

H. R. T.