From PSALTERS to SINGING SCHOOLS and Beyond one lens for the history of western music education James F. Daugherty, Ph.D.
Historiographical Note: The “Singing School” and its predecessors have to date served as the primary starting point for histories of American music education. Edward Bailey Birge (1928); Lloyd Sunderman (1971); James A. Keene (1982): Each begins pretty much with Pilgrims in Plymouth,MA. Edward Bailey Birge, History of Public School Music in the United States (Bryn Mawr, PA: Oliver Ditson, 1928/1937; Lloyd F. Sunderman, Historical Foundations of Music Education in the United States (Metuchen, NJ: Scarecrow Press, 1971; James A. Keene, A History of Music Education in the United States (Hanover, NH: University Press of New England, 1982). A. Theodore Tellstrom (1971) begins essentially with the Protestant Reformation. A. Theodore Tellstrom, Music in American Education: Past and Present (NY: Holt, Rinehart & Winston, 1971). Michael Mark & Charles Gary (1992) start with Hebrews and Greeks, but are in Colonial America by page 44. Michael L. Mark and Charles Gary, A History of American Music Education (NY: Schirmer Books, 1992).
Historiographical Note, continued: We do not yet have a history of American music education that fairly and fully treats contributions of indigenous peoples. Nor do we yet have a history of American music education that tells the story primarily from the perspective of minorities, women, indentured people, etc. As we prepare to attend the KMEA convention, itself arguably a descendent of the Singing Schools, it is appropriate to rehearse and celebrate the saga of music education as a product of psalm singing instruction and its heritors. It is also appropriate to keep in mind that such a perspective provides but one lens, albeit a dominant one currently, on the history of American music education.
monodic chanting of Words important for edification of the faithful and for the doing of theology
Psalms found throughout the Judeo-Christian scriptures, not just in the Old Testament book called Psalms Sometimes these psalms re-appear in new guises even within the Scriptures
Example: The “Magnificat” in Luke’s gospel is a psalm, i.e., meant to be sung And Mary proclaimed: My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my savior, For He has looked upon the lowliness of His handmaiden. From now on will all ages call me blessed.
Hannah prayed and said, "My heart exults in the Lord; my strength is exalted in my God. Talk no more so very proudly, let not arrogance come from your mouth; The bows of the mighty are broken, but the feeble gird on strength. Those who were full have hired themselves out for bread, but those who were hungry are fat with spoil. And Mary proclaimed: My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my savior He has…dispersed the arrogant of mind and heart He has thrown down the rulers from their thrones but lifted up the lowly. The hungry he as filled with good things; the rich he has sent away empty. Compare: Hannah’s Song (1Samuel 2) with Mary’s Song (Luke 1)
To Keep in Mind: • Psalms and hymns of Judeo-Xn tradition are functional, contextual, dynamic and adaptable. • Earliest Christians were also Jews. Aside from Magnificat, the “Gloria” is a Hebrew psalm that found its way pretty much intact into the ordinary of the Roman mass, as did the “Sanctus” in truncated form. • With the Edict of Milan in 313, which legalized Christianity, Christian singing flourished. • Augustine was among early Christian thinkers who set a philosophical foundation for this phenomenon by embracing both the ancient doctrines of symbolism (the math of music reflecting transcendent reality) and ethos (power of music to mold character and stir emotions). Such a framework empowered music as an essential part of Christian education.
Bono, lead singer for rock band U2, on the continuing appeal of psalms (1999): • At age 12, I was a fan of David. He felt familiar, like a pop star could feel familiar. The words of the psalms were as poetic as they were religious, and he was a star -- a dramatic character, because before David could fulfil the prophecy and become the king of Israel, he had to take quite a beating. He was forced into exileand ended up in a cave in some no-name border town facing the collapse of his ego and abandonment by God. But this is where the soap opera got interesting. This is where David was said to have composed his first psalm -- a blues. That's what a lot of the psalms feel like to me -- the blues. Man shouting at God -- "My God, my God, why has thou forsaken me? Why art thou so far from helping me?" (Psalm 22).
Bono, lead singer for rock band U2, on the continuing appeal of psalms (1999): Psalms and hymns were my first taste of inspirational music. I liked the words but I wasn't sure about the tunes -- with the exception of Psalm 23, "The Lord is my Shepherd." I remember them as droned and chanted rather than sung. Still, in an odd way, they prepared me for the honesty of John Lennon, the baroque language of Bob Dylan and Leonard Cohen, the open throat of Al Green and Stevie Wonder. When I hear these singers, I am reconnected to a part of me I have no explanation for...my "soul," I guess. Years ago, lost for words and forty minutes of recording time left before the end of our studio time, we were still looking for a song to close our third album, WAR. We wanted to put something explicitly spiritual on the record to balance the politics and the romance of it, like Bob Marley or Marvin Gaye would. We thought about the psalms -- Psalm 40.
Fast Forward to the Protestant Reformation • Recall, in broad strokes, such events and ideas as monasteries, cathedral schools, parish schools, universities, the long development of music notation, Guido and his hand, private music instruction, the beginnings of conservatories, etc., etc. • Recall that Renaissance humanism began to move the conceptual symbolism of music from “science” to an “art”of human expression. • In its musical outcomes, the Protestant Reformation was, in one sense, a theological protest against some of the excesses of this humanistic movement: too much polyphony, excessive embellishment, difficulty with the whole congregation being able to offer musical service to God, and some emerging concerns about the proper use of instruments and instrumental music.
The Reformers • By and large, still valued music highly. • But they sought to solidify the functional nature of music in Christian contexts by recovering some of the roots of Christian music in Hebrew psalm-singing: simplifying, adapting, and using music in ways conducive to the “priesthood of all believers.” • These reformers, by and large, also valued education highly. They sought to transfer education from the Roman Catholic Church to the state. Luther, Melancthon, Calvin, and others envisioned a universal education that would serve the common people as well as the wealthy. • Central to this vision was the ancient notion that proper education included music. Abetting the vision was the invention of printing that assisted musicians to share their “secrets” in writing, and others to devise and expound various “best methods” for teaching the rudiments of musical literacy.
Reformation Calvinists • Into this emerging matrix, the metrical psalmody of Reformation Calvinists would play an important role in defining some of the roots of American music education. • Calvin (1509-1564) advocated psalm singing not only in church, but also in homes and even the workplace.
Clement Marot & Jean Calvin • The history of the Calvinist psalters begins in the Catholic court of France, where, in 1537, the poet Clement Marot, a valet to King Francois I, completed rhymed translations of 30 psalms.
Reformation Calvinists: Jean Calvin & Clement Marot • These metrical psalms were very popular at court. There are reports that members of the royal assembly sang them to popular tunes of the day. • Jean Calvin used these Marot translations in his first psalter, Aulcans pseaulmes et cantiques mys en chant, issued in Strasbourg in 1539. This book contains 13 Marot psalms and six psalms and canticles by Calvin. It is a psalter with melody lines.
Reformation Calvinists: Jean Calvin, Clement Marot, Theodore Beze, & Louis Bourgeois • In 1542 Marot fled to Geneva, as had Calvin slightly before him, to escape religious persecution. • There Marot revised his first 30 psalms and added 25 texts to the Calvinist repertory. • Various psalters appeared between 1540-1560, including the versifications of Marot, Calvin, and Theodore Beze. • Louis Bourgeois, active in Geneva as a musician since 1545, was responsible for the melodies appearing with these versifications in a 1551 psalter edition. • Although he apparently did not contribute to other editions, Bourgeois’ melodies were preserved and replicated in subsequent psalters.
Reformation Calvinists: Jean Calvin, Clement Marot, Theodore Beze, & Louis Bourgeois • The complete volume, subsequently known as the Genevan Psalter, was published in 1562.
Sing from Genevan Psalter: “I Greet Thee Who My Sure Redeemer Art” “Doxology”
Reformation Calvinists: Jean Calvin, Clement Marot, Theodore Beze, & Louis Bourgeois • Interestingly, Bourgeois and others, notably Claude Goudimel, also wrote harmonized and polyphonic settings of the metrical psalm texts. The melody generally appeared in the tenor or superius. • A large number of these arrangements were printed, well over 3,000 in France and Switzerland alone. • More than 100 of these psalm settings even appeared in instrumental publications, such as Le Roy’s Tiers livre de tabulature de luth (1552), which contains 21 settings for voice and lute. • Far from being dour and rigid, the Calvinist musical heritage was rather rich and varied. Such composers as Clement Janequin, Jacques Arcadelt, and Pierre Certon incorporated Calvinist melodies into their compositions.
Meanwhile, in England and Scotland: • The death of Henry VIII in 1547 opened the way for the Protestant reforming party to replace Latin services with English liturgies, and to introduce other changes. • Throughout the brief reign of Edward VI (1547-1553) the Puritan party increasingly found favor. • These English Reformers, unlike the Lutherans, held that psalms were divinely inspired and thus preferable to any merely human compositions. They introduced metrical psalm translations on a large scale so that these texts could be sung by the people as a whole.
Meanwhile, in England and Scotland: • Important for our purposes is the publication in 1549 of Thomas Sternhold’s Certayne Psalmes, dedicated to King Edward VI. This small beginning (19 psalms) became the nucleus of both English and Scottish psalm books. • The full title: Certayne Psalmes chose out of the PSALTER OF DAVID, and drawe into English metre, by Thomas Sternhold grome of Ye Kynges Maiesties roobes. • Sternhold died shortly after its publication. Certayne Psalmes, 1549, bound in embroidered silk
Meanwhile, in England and Scotland: • When Mary I ascended to the English throne (1553-1558), she reinstituted Catholic rule. • Numerous Puritan and Anglican Reformers were obliged to go into exile. Some went to Frankfurt, still others to France, the Netherlands, and many to Geneva, where, of course, they came under Calvin’s influence. • They took Sternholds’ psalter with them. Indeed, there were at least three Genevan editions of the Sternhold & Hopkins during this time of exile.
Meanwhile, in England and Scotland: • When Queen Elizabeth ascended the English throne in 1558, many of the Protestant exiles returned. • Metrical psalm singing was now tolerated, assisted by Elizabeth’s Injunctions of 1559 that stated in part: • “…for the comforting of such that delight in music, it may be permitted thata in the beginning or in the end of common prayers, eyther at mornying or evenying, there be sung an hyme, or such like songue, to the praise of almighty God, in the best sort of melody and musicke that may be conveniently devised, having respect that the sentence of the Hymne may be understood and pereceyved.”
Meanwhile, in England and Scotland: • 1562: Sternhold’s versifications were supplemented by John Hopkins, and the Sternhold and Hopkins Whole Book of Psalms was published by John Day in a four part edition. • Sometimes referred to as the “Sternhold & Hopkins,” other times referred to as “Day’s Psalter,”this psalter went through more than 600 editions, the final printed in 1828.
Sternhold & Hopkins, 1562: • Old Hundredth, melody in the tenor
Sternhold & Hopkins, 1594 edition: • The Whole Booke of Psalmes; Collected into English Metre, by Thomas Sternhold, John Hopins, and Others, Conferred with the Hebrue, with Apt Notes to Sing Them Withall (London, 1594). • Printer John Windet thought that solmization was useful in sight singing. He had initials for the syllables U R M F S L printed beneath the notes. • According to his preface: • “...I have caused a new print of note to be made with letter to be joined to every note: whereby thou mayest know how to call every note by his right name, so that with a very little diligence thou mayest more easilie by the viewing of these letters, come to the knowledge of perfect solfeying... the letters be these U for Ut, R for Re, M for My, F for Fa, S for Sol, L for La. Thus where you see any letter joyned by the notes you may easilie call him by his right name, ….”
1612: The Rev. Henry Ainsworth (1571-1623) • Published Annotations upon the Books of Psalms. Written in Holland for the English separatist reformers who did not return to England with the advent of Elizabeth’s reign. • Brought on the Mayflower in 1620 by the Pilgrims to the Plymouth Colony.
1612: The Rev. Henry Ainsworth (1571-1623) • Ainsworth’s psalter contained 39 different unaccompanied tune from English, French, and Dutch sources, a multicultural solution to the lack of musical notation in the Bible. • Ainsworth wrote: “Tunes for the Psalmes, I find none set of God: so that ech people is to use the most grave, decent, and comfortable manner of singing that they know, according to the general rule, I Cor. 14, 16.40. The singing notes therefore I have most taken from our former Englished psalmes, when they wil fit the mesure of the verse: and for the other long verses, I have also taken (for the most part) the gravest and easiest tunes of the French and Dutch pslames.” • Separatists in Holland and later in America could sing all 150 psalm texts to these 39 tunes, as several could work with more than one psalm.
1630: Puritans established Massachusetts Bay Colony • Their psalter of preference was the Sternhold & Hopkins. • Keep in mind: • Pilgrims (sailed from Plymouth, England on the Mayflower): Plymouth Plantation, MA • Dubbed “Pilgrims” by Daniel Webster in 1820 • smaller of the colonies • 102 passengers on the Mayflower, only 30 on board for religious reasons • Puritans (England): Massachusetts Bay Colony • sailed on the ship Arbella in spring of 1630 • by 1631, about 21,000 English men, women, and children traversed the Atlantic in about 200 ships • strict and staunch Calvinists • Eventually (around 1692) the Plymouth and Mass. Bay Colonies merged
1640: Bay Psalm Book • There had been dissatisfaction with the accuracy of the translations found in the Sternhold & Hopkins. • Even before the 1644 Westminster Assembly of Divines in England argued for a newer psalter closer to the original Hebrew, New World colonists were already on task. • The Reverends John Eliot, Thomas Weld, and Richard Mather (grandfather of Cotton Mather) published the Bay Psalm Book in 1640. • Full Title: The Whole Book of Psalmes Faithfully Translated into English Metre, Whereunto is prefixed a discourse declaring not only the lawfulness, but also the necessity of the heavenly Ordinance of Singing Scripture Psalmes in the Churches of God
1640: Bay Psalm Book • Interestingly “Bay Psalm Book” does not appear on the cover or elsewhere in the book • One of the first things the Puritans did was establish Harvard College, 1636, and one of the first things they equipped it with was a printing press. • The “Bay Psalm Book” was the first book off this press. The first book published in North America was a music book. Its preface began with three questions: • “First, what psalmes are to be sung in churches? whether Davids and other scripture psalmes, or the psalmes invented by the gifts of godly men in every age of the church. Secondly, if scripture psalmes, whether in their owne words, or in such meter as english poetry is wont to run in? Thirdly, by whom are they to be sung? whether by the whole churches together with their voices? or by one man singing alone and the rest joyning in silence, & in the close, saying amen.”
1640: Bay Psalm Book • Mather, Weld, and Eliot, answering their own rhetorical questions, made the case for Davidic and scriptural psalms in English poetic meter sung by the whole church and dedicated their book to that task. • At the end, in an “Admonition to the Reader,” they wrote that they intended people to sing their verses to tunes by Thomas Ravenscroft, noting that their versifications of the psalms fit into six meters for which tunes were readily available. • Ravenscroft’s The Whole Booke of Psalms, with the Hymes Evangelicall, and Songs Spirituall (London, 1621) contained music in four-part arrangements by Ravenscroft and other leading English composers. Most colonists used the Ravenscroft tunes as melodies for the Sternhold & Hopkins texts.
Bay Psalm Books • The “Bay Psalm Book” proved very popular on both sides of the Atlantic. Remember, that far from being isolated, the American colonists through heavy ship traffic, had an interdependent relationship with their counterparts in England. • Over a 30 year period, the “Bay Psalm Book” went through 70 editions, 18 of them in England and 22 in Scotland. • The third edition, a definitive one, was known as the New England Psalm Book. These early editions, while containing preferred texts, contained no music. • The first edition known to contain music was the ninth (some say the twelfth) edition in 1698. • This 1698 edition was the first known book printed in the colonies that contained music.
Bay Psalm Book: 1698 • The tunes that appeared in the 1698 edition were taken from John Playford’s book, An Introduction to the Skill of Music, a self-instruct in the rudiments of music published in 1654. • Another important feature of the 1698 edition was the addition of solmization letters printed below the tune notes.
1698 Edition: Melody and Bass with mi-fa-sol-la letters printed beneath the staff. The diamond shaped notes were standard musical notation at that time.
Solmization • assigns syllables to degrees of the scale to assist singers’ finding/hearing/seeing pitch relationships • European hexachord (6 note system) of Ut-Re-Mi-Fa-Sol-La was codified by Guido d’Arezzo (990-1055) in the eleventh century. • This continental system was simplified in England to a 4 note syllable system: Fa Sol La Mi, with Mi being the leading tone of the scale. It was this FaSoLa system that the English colonists brought with them to the New World. It was this FaSoLa system that appeared in the 1698 edition of the “Bay Psalm Book.” • SING: Old Hundredth from 1698 “Bay Psalm Book”
Two Ways of Singing Psalm Tunes in New England: “Note” vs “Rote” • The “regular” way was reading by note. The use of FaSoLa was intended to teach this way. • The “old” way, as it came to be known, was officially endorsed by the Westminster Assembly in 1644 to assist the musically illiterate to participate fully in psalm singing. • On the continent, the “old” way was called “lining out.” In the New World, it was called both that and “deaconing.” • The lining out process entailed a deacon reading a line or two of a versified psalm. A song leader, or precentor, gave out the pitch for the tune and led the congregation in singing the words to one of a relatively small number of tunes comprising a memorized repertoire.