Germany, Italy, France, and the Netherlands: never as yet before in one volume published… Newly corrected and enlarged by Thomas Ravenscroft Bachelar of Musicke. Printed at London, for the Company of Stationers.
This Psalter contains a larger number of compositions than any other except that of Day; but the number in excess of the Church tunes is not made up, as in Day, by alternative settings, but by the addition of 40 new tunes, almost all of which are single common measure tunes of the later kind, with names. They appear in the index under the heading—'such tunes of the Psalmes usually sung in Cathedrall Churches, Collegiat Chapels, &c.,' and are divided broadly into three classes, one of which contains those named after the English Cathedrals and Universities, while the other two are called respectively Scotch and Welsh, and the tunes named accordingly. The whole subject of these names, and how they are to be understood, has been gone into at some length by Canon Havergal in the preface to his quasi-reprint of this Psalter; and his conclusion is probably the right one, namely, that the tunes were in most cases designated according to the localities in which they were found in use, but that this does not necessarily imply a local origin. We have already referred to Ravenscroft's description of the old double common measure tunes, and need add nothing here with respect to them. Under the heading 'forraigne tunes usually sung in Great Brittaine' will be found, for the French, only the few tunes taken from the Geneva Psalter, enumerated above; with regard to other sources, the magnificent promise of the title-page is reduced to three German tunes, two Dutch, and one Italian.
Of the 100 settings in this work, 38 had appeared in previous ones. All the musicians engaged upon Este's Psalter are represented here; 31 of their compositions have been taken on, and Douland and Hooper have each contributed a new one; Douland's is the setting of the 100th Psalm, already given in this work. [See Hymn, vol. i. p. 762b.] Also, one of Parsons' settings has been taken from Day's Psalter, though not without alteration. The four settings by Morley and Bennet, from Barley's Psalter, have already been mentioned, and in addition there is a new one by Morley, a setting of the 1st Psalm. Tallis's tune in Mode VIII is also given here from Parker's Psalter (to a morning hymn), in the shortened form, but with the tenor still leading the canon.
Eight new composers appear, whose names and contributions are as follows: R. Palmer, 1; J. Milton, 2; W. Harrison, 1; J. Tomkins, 1; T. Tomkins, 2; W. Cranfield or Cranford, 2; J. Ward, 1; S. Stubbs, 2; Ravenscroft himself, 48. In the work of all these composers is to be seen the same impurity of taste which was visible in the settings made for Este by Farnaby and Johnson. The two cadences given above in a note, as examples of a kind of aberration, are here found to have become part of the common stock of music; and an inferior treatment of conjunct passages in short notes, in which the alternate crotchet is dotted, finds, among other disimprovements, great favour with the editor. Ravenscroft and Milton appear to be by far the best of the new contributors. The variety shown by the former in his methods of treatment is remarkable: he seems to have formed himself upon Este's Psalter, to have attempted all its styles in turn, and to have measured himself with almost every composer. Notwithstanding this, it is evident that he had no firm grasp of the older style, and that he was advancing as rapidly as any musician of his day towards the modern tonality and the modern priority of harmonic considerations in part writing. Milton's two settings are fine, notwithstanding the occasional use of the degraded cadence, and on the whole worthy of the older school, to which indeed he properly belonged. The rest, if we except Ward, may be briefly dismissed. They were inferior men, working with an inferior method.
Two years later appeared the work of George Wither:—
The Hymnes and Songs of the Church. Divided into two Parts. The first Part comprehends the Canonicall Hymnes, and such parcels of Holy Scripture as may properly be sung: with some other ancient Songs and Creeds. The second Part consists of Spirituall Songs, appropriated to the severall Times and Occasions, observable in the Church of England. Translated and composed by G. W. London, printed by the assignes of George Wither, 1623. Cum privilegio Regis Regali.
This work was submitted during its progress to James the First, and so far found favour that the author obtained a privilege of fifty-one years, and a recommendation in the patent that the book should be 'inserted in convenient manner and due place in every English Psalm book in metre.' The king's benevolence, however, was of no effect; the Company of Stationers, considering their own privilege invaded, declared against the author, and by every means in their power, short of a flat refusal, avoided the sale of the book. Here again, as in the case of Parker's Psalter, the virtual suppression of the work occasioned the loss of a set of noble tunes by a great master. Sixteen compositions by Orlando Gibbons had been made for it, and were printed with it. They are in two-part counterpoint, nearly plain, for treble and bass; the treble being the tune, and the bass, though not figured, probably intended for the organ. In style they resemble rather the tunes of Tallis than the imitations of the Geneva tunes to which English congregations had been accustomed, it being possible to accent them in the same way as the words they were to accompany; syncopation, however, sometimes occurs, but rarely, and more rarely still in the bass. The harmony often reveals very clearly the transitional condition of music at this period. For instance, in Modes XIII and XIV a sectional termination in the melody on the second of the scale was always, in the older harmony, treated as a full close, having the same note in the bass; here we find it treated in the modern way, as a half close, with the fifth
- A second edition was published in 1633. It was also several times reprinted, either entirely or in part, during the 18th century.