[Milton-L] Re: AV/KJV

Beth Quitslund quitslun at ohio.edu
Thu Sep 13 11:17:59 EDT 2007

As far as prose psalms for Morning and Evening Prayer, I think it's safe to 
assume that most but not all congregations would have heard the Great Bible 
psalms. They were almost always bound with the Book of Common Prayer, and 
the printer Christopher Barker in 1582 complains that although he as the 
queen's printer has the rights to the BCP, his sales are significantly 
reduced by the patent to William Seres for the Great Bible Psalter, which 
ought to be considered a part of the liturgy. (He makes the same complaint 
about Day's patent for the metrical psalms, which never had any official 
authorization at all). Technically, however, from 1549 until 1662 it was 
permissible to read the daily psalms in any language understood by the 
congregation (which primarily means that Latin was ok for the 
universities). The Great Bible psalter was officially incorporated into the 
liturgy in 1662. As to why James didn't push for the use of the AV psalms 
in common prayers, I don't know, but my *suspicion* is that he knew that 
asking convocation and especially parliament to tinker with the BCP in one 
way would positively invite a Puritan assault on other parts of it.

Hannibal is right that the BCP has been under-attended to by our ilk. One 
positive development is that Brian Cummings is working on a massive new 
original-spelling critical edition for Oxford World's Classics, which will 
include 1549, 1559, and 1662.


At 10:29 AM 9/13/2007, you wrote:

>It's true that there were several translations used in English churches, 
>but this is primarily for the Psalms, I think (apart from biblical bits 
>and pieces quoted or paraphrased by Cranmer).  The Coverdale Psalms from 
>the Great Bible were traditionally (since Edwardian days) included with 
>the BCP, and the metrical Psalms of the Sternhold and Hopkins psalter were 
>used for congregational singing (which was the widespread practice in 
>parish churches -- cathedrals and college chapels had professional choirs 
>that did the singing).  As to why the Psalms of the BCP were never 
>changed, this is a great question.  My sense is that the BCP is generally 
>underexplored, by literary scholars.  I think there was ongoing tinkering 
>with Coverdale's texts, in a minor and anonymous fashion, but they 
>remained essentially the same -- perhaps becuase they simply became 
>familiar and accustomed, or perhaps just because they were good (on a 
>personal note, I still tend to prefer the m to the KJV, though I too am 
>accustomed to them from years of church-singing as a choirboy).  I'm not 
>sure, though, exactly which versions were used and when -- and I don't 
>know if anyone does (the BCP doesn't make this clear).  When Psalms were 
>read through as part of the liturgy, was this from the BCP Psalms or from 
>the Bible?  Did it simply depend on which book was in the hand of the 
>reader (i.e., whether the text was read from the lectern, where the 
>official Bible was open, or from the hand of a priest or deacon in the 
>Choir)?  My sense is that much of what went on in the actual practice of 
>worship (as opposed to printed rubrics) is unclear, like the singing of 
>Psalms or anthems, for instance, which could fit in at different points.
>Hannibal Hamlin
>Associate Professor of English
>The Ohio State University
>Book Review Editor and Associate Editor, Reformation
>Mailing Address (2007-2009):
>The Folger Shakespeare Library
>201 Capitol Street SE
>Washington, DC 20003
>Permanent Address:
>Department of English
>The Ohio State University
>421 Denney Hall, 164 W. 17th Avenue
>Columbus, OH 43210-1340
>Content-type: multipart/alternative; boundary="B_3272521208_139859" 
>--B_3272521208_139859 Content-type: text/plain; charset="ISO-8859-1" 
>Content-transfer-encoding: quoted-printable Content-Disposition: inline 
>Isn=B9t it true that the KJV was never =B3read in all the churches=B2 
>exclu= sively, because the Book of Common Prayer used the Great Bible 
>text? Why wasn=B9t t= he BCP revised under James I to use KJV translations 
>of the Psalms and incorporated Biblical =B3lessons=B2? Was the KJV read 
>for the lessons that = were not incorporated in the BCP? Michael --=20 
>------------------------------------------------------ Teach CanIt if this 
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>END-ANTISPAM-VOTING-LINKS --B_3272521208_139859 Content-type: text/html; 
>charset="ISO-8859-1" Content-transfer-encoding: quoted-printable 
>Content-Disposition: inline I= sn't it true that the KJV was never "read 
>in all the churches&#=
>8221; exclusively, because the Book of Common Prayer used the Great Bible 
>t= ext? Why wasn't the BCP revised under James I to use KJV translations= 
>of the Psalms and incorporated Biblical "lessons"? Was the KJV= read for 
>the lessons that were not incorporated in the BCP?
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Beth Quitslund
Assistant Professor of English

Department of English
Ohio University
Athens, OH 45701
phone: (740) 593-2829
FAX: (740) 593-2818
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