We hope, with time, to make this collection exhaustive of all the quality psalters on the net; at the moment this page is a work in progress. The psalter to start singing with is the 1650 Scottish Metrical Psalter: The Psalms of David in Meter Buy It is akin to the King James Version in its language and widespread use and influence throughout history.
Order of Contents
Online Psalters 60
Calvin, John – The Strasbourg Psalter 1539
The was the first Reformation psalter ever.
Wyatt, Thomas & Harington, John – Certain Psalms Chosen out of the Psalter of David, commonly called the Seven Penitential Psalms, drawn into English meter by Sir Thomas Wyat Knight, whereunto is added a prolage of the author before every Psalm, very pleasant and profitable to the godly reader London, published posthumously in 1549, which means that this English psalter is older than that of Crowley and Sternhold & Hopkins.
‘During the period of the English Reformation, many other poets besides Sternhold and Hopkins wrote metrical versions of some of the psalms. The first was Sir Thomas Wyatt, who in around 1540 made verse versions of the six penitential Psalms.’ – Wiki
Wyatt was known as both ‘the Father of English poetry and English metrical Psalmody.’ (Patricia Thomson)
Wyatt’s “rendering of Psalm 32 includes the phrase ‘Surprised by joy,’ which later became the title of a poem by William Wordsworth and a work by C.S. Lewis. He was likely a suitor or lover of Queen Anne Boleyn. His son, Sir Thomas Wyatt the Younger was executed in the Tower of London by Bloody Mary for leading a Protestant revolt known as Wyatt’s Rebellion on behalf of Lady Jane Grey’s claim to the throne.” – Andrew Myers
Crowley, Robert – The Psalter of David newly translated into English meter in such sort that it may the more decently, and with more delight of the mind, be read and sung of all men. Whereunto is added a note of four parts, with other things, as shall appear in the epistle to the reader 1549 London
This was the first complete English metrical psalter and the first to include musical notation.
‘The music provided in Crowley’s psalter is similar to the Gregorian tones of the Latin Sarum Rite psalter, and it can be found in Grove’s Dictionary of Music and Musicians. A single note is given for each syllable in each verse, in keeping with Archbishop Thomas Cranmer‘s mandate for the reformed Edwardian liturgy. The goal was to emphasize simplicity and to encourage attentiveness to what was being sung by omitting complex vocal ornamentation.’ – Wiki
Sternhold and Hopkins
Sternhold, Thomas & Hopkins, John – All such Psalms of David as T. Sternehold did in his life time draw into English Meter 1551, London. Sternhold died in 1549.
1562 Sternhold, Thomas, & Hopkins, John – The whole book of Psalms collected into English meter by T. Starnhold, I. Hopkins, and others, conferred with the Hebrew, with apt notes to synge them with all; faithfully perused and allowed according to the order appointed in the Queen’s Majesty’s injunctions ; very meet to be used of all sorts of people privately for their solace & comfort, laying apart all ungodly songs and ballades, which tend only to the nourishing of vice, and corrupting of youth 1562 London
Sternhold, Thomas, Hopkins, John & Whittingham, William – The Whole Book of Psalms collected into English meter by Thomas Sternhold, John Hopkins, W. Whittingham and others, conferred with the Hebrew with apt notes to sing them withal; set forth and allowed to be sung in all churches, of all the people together before and after morning and evening prayer, as also before and after sermons, and moreover in private houses for their godly solace and comfort, laying apart all ungodly songs and ballads, which tend only to the nourishing of vice, and corrupting of youth 1578 London
Alison, Richard, Sternhold, Thomas, Hopkins, John – The Psalms of David in meter the plain song being the common tune to be sung and played upon the lute, orpharyon, citterne or base viol, severally or altogether, the singing part to be either tenor or treble to the instrument, according to the nature of the voice, or for four voices: with ten short tunes in the end, to which for the most part all the Psalms may be usually sung, for the use of such as are of mean skill, and whose leisure least serves to practice 1599 London
Hunnis, William – Certain Psalms Chosen out of the Psalter of David, and Drawn forth into English meter 1550 London
The Genevan Psalter Music 1542-62 The Genevan psalter was compiled mainly under the supervision of John Calvin (d. 1564). The English translation here linked by the Canadian-American Reformed Churches (1984) is not a translation of the French psalms, but its own independent English translation. See also the New Genevan Psalter Buy by George van Popta, 2015. See also the Genevan Psalter website which also has English renderings that fit the Genevan tunes also (though, again, it is not a translation of the French). See also the various versifications of psalms set to the Genevan tunes by contemporary authors.
Sing the Genevan jigs! There are many histories of this hugely significant psalter online. Here is Wiki.
‘…from the French-Genevan Psalter (1551), we have four tunes — Old 134th (or St. Michael), Old 100th, Geneva and Old 124th. The name associated with all four tunes is Louis Bourgeois, a very fine musician of his time.’ – Isobel Scott
Day, John The Whole Book of Psalms 1562
This contained sixty-five psalm tunes.
Wode, Thomas – The St. Andrew’s Psalter 1560’s Scotland
‘These harmonisations of 106 metrical psalms from the Anglo-Genevan Psalm Book and other songs created the ‘gold standard’ for post-Reformation devotion and worship in Scotland.’ – The Wode Psalter at the Univ. of Edinburgh
Parker, Matthew – The Whole Psalter translated into English meter, which contains a Hundred and Fifty Psalms. The First Quinquagene 1567 London
Samuel, William – An Abridgement of all the canonical books of the Old Testament written in Sternhold’s meter 1569 London
T.R. – The Catechism in meter for the easier learning, and better remembering of those principles of our faith, which we ought most familiarly to be acquainted withal, for the proof of those things, which I have not quoted, I refer you to the usual catechism; only in the margin I have quoted those things which I have added for plainness; the verse will agree with most of the tunes of the Psalms of David, and it is divided into parts, that each part may be song by itself 1583 London
Sidney, Philip – The Sidney Psalter d. 1586
‘Sir Philip Sidney made verse versions of the first 43 psalms. After he died in 1586, his sister, Mary Sidney Herbert, the Countess of Pembroke, completed the translation of the final two-thirds of the psalter. Together they used a dazzling array of stanza forms and rhyme schemes—as many as 145 different forms for the 150 psalms. ‘The Sidney Psalter’ was not published in its complete form until the twentieth century, but it was widely read in manuscript, and influenced such later poets as John Donne and George Herbert.’ – Wiki
Este – Psalter 1592
‘From it we have the tunes Cheshire and Winchester. Thomas Este was one of the greatest music publishers, publishing much of the Elizabethan music of the time as well as Metrical Psalm tunes.’ – Isobel Scott
Dod, Henry – Certain Psalms of David, heretofore much out of use because of their difficult tunes. The number whereof are contained in the page following. Reduced into English meter better fitting the common tunes 1603 Edinburgh
Ainsworth, Henry – The Book of Psalms, Englished both in prose and meter with annotations, opening the words and sentences, by conference with other Scriptures first published in 1612, later in 1644, Amsterdam
See Alice Earle’s review, ‘The Psalm Book of the Pilgrims’, 1892.
Church of Scotland – The 150 Psalms of David in Scottish Meter, after the form that they are used to be sung in the Kirk of Scotland 1615 Edinburgh
‘The 1615 edition contained some of the best known Common tunes — among them Dunfermline, French and Martyrs. These Common tunes were written for those who could not read, and they would learn the tunes by ear.’ – Isobel Scott
Sandys, Edwin, and Tailour, Robert – Sacred Hymns. Consisting of Fifty select psalms of David and others, paraphrastically turned into English verse. And by Robert Tailour, set to be sung in five parts, as also to the viol, and lute or orph-arion. Published for the use of such as delight in the exercise of music in her original honor 1615 London
Ravenscroft, Thomas – The Whole Book of Psalms: with The Hymns Evangelical and Songs Spiritual 1621
Church of Scotland – Psalter 1625
Bacon, Francis – The Translation of Certain Psalms into English Verse by the Right Honorable, Francis Lo. Verulam, Viscount St. Alban 1625 London
This work is not a translation so much as a paraphrase.
The King James Psalter, 1631
See an introduction to this psalter and King James’ later 1636 psalter by Andrew Myers, The King James Psalter (2009, 6 paragraphs).
Wither, George – The Psalms of David translated into Lyric-verse, according to the scope, of the original. And illustrated, with a short argument, and a brief prayer, or meditation; before, and after, every Psalm 1632 Amsterdam(?)
Church of Scotland – The Scottish Metrical Psalter 1634
Church of Scotland – The Scottish Metrical Psalter 1635
‘There then followed a number of editions of the Scottish Psalter… There were editions in 1625 and 1634, but it was the 1635 edition that is most notable. From this excellent Psalm Book we get the tunes Glenluce, London New, Wigtown and Duries 124th. In this Psalter there are tunes of three categories. (1) Proper Tunes: which were tunes specifically intended for individual psalms as the Reformers wanted each psalm to have its own tune. Hence we have Old 100th and Old 124th; (2) Common Tunes — these were as the 1615 edition; and Tunes in reports — These were more challenging to sing as there was some imitation between the parts. (3) Tunes in reports include Aberfeldy and Bon Accord. This edition seemed to represent the peak of psalmody. In fact the first Psalm Book to be published with any music had only twelve tunes!’ – Isobel Scott
King James VI – The Book of Common Prayer and Administration of the Sacraments; and other parts of Divine Service for the use of the Church of Scotland. With a Paraphrase of the Psalms in Meter by King James VI, Edinburgh 1712, from the copy in Edinburgh in 1637 (1636)
See an introduction to this psalter and King James’ earlier 1631 psalter by Andrew Myers, The King James Psalter (2009, 6 paragraphs).
This was the first book printed in the Americas and was the product of a group of 30 translators including Richard Mather, John Eliot and Thomas Mayhew.
Barton, William – The Book of Psalms in meter close and proper to the Hebrew, smooth and pleasant for the meter, plain and easy for the tunes : with musical notes, arguments, annotations, and index: fitted for the ready use and understanding of all good Christians 1644 London
Church of Scotland – The Psalms of David in Meter 1650
This is the classic psalter from this period; it is something of the King James Version of psalters. This production was the completed form of the psalter that was commissioned to be produced and worked on by the Westminster Assembly. The Church of Scotland took over the work and completed it. It only has the 150 Psalms, no other Bible songs or hymns.
Dunster, Henry & Richard Lyon – The Psalms, Hymns and Spiritual Songs of the Old and New Testament, faithfully translated into English metre, for the use, edification, and comfort, of the saints, in public and private, especially in New-England 1651 Here is a 1695 printing. The ninth edition in 1698 has some differences.
King, Henry – The Psalms of David from the new translation of the Bible turned into meter to be sung after the old tunes used in the churches: unto which are newly added the Lord’s Prayer, the Creed, the Ten commandments, with some other ancient hymns 1654 London
Woodford, Samuel – A Paraphrase upon the Psalms of David 1667
Roberts, Francis – The Key of the Bible, unlocking the richest treasury of the Holy Scriptures… whereunto are added the metrical version of the whole book of Hymns or Praises, viz. the Book of Psalms, p. 137 ff. 1675 The metrical version of each psalm is laced in with his commentary on each psalm.
Patrick, John – A Century of Select Psalms, and portions of the psalms of David especially those of praise turned into meter, and fitted to the usual tunes in parish churches, for the use of the Charter-House, London 1679 London
Coleraine, Hugh Hare, Baron & Loredano, Giovanni Francesco – La Scala Santa, or, A Scale of devotions musical and gradual being descants on the fifteen Psalms of Degrees, in metre: with contemplations and collects upon them, in prose, 1670 Ref 1681 London
Goodridge, Richard – The Psalter, or, Psalms of David paraphrased in verse set to new tunes and so designed that by two tunes only the whole number of psalms (four only excepted) may be sung, one of which tunes is already known (being the usual tune of the 100th psalm): the other tunes only are new, but anyone of them being learned, all the other psalms may be sung by that one only tune: as on the contrary any one psalm may be sung by all the new tunes, so that a greater facility for those who are less able to sing, or a greater variety for those who are more able, cannot reasonably be desired or afforded 1684 Oxford
Ford, Simon – A New Version of the Psalms of David: together with all the church-hymns, into meter, smooth, plain and easy to the most ordinary capacities: and yet as close to the original languages, and the last and best English translation, as the nature of such a work will well permit 1688 London
Baxter, Richard – Mr. Richard Baxter’s Paraphrase on the Psalms of David in metre with other hymns d. 1691, 1692
Patrick, John – The Psalms of David in meter fitted to the tunes used in parish-churches 1694 London
Brady, Nicholas & Tate, Nahum – A New Version of the Psalms of David 1696/8, 1733
A Divine in the Church of England – An essay towards the rendering the first thirty Psalms of David in meter (of the old version of Thomas Sternhold, and John Hopkins and others) Less obnoxious to exceptions than it has been, by moderate alterations and amendments. And published, as a specimen of the whole book done after the same manner, now in the hands of the author 1697 London
Barton, William & Smith, Thomas – The Psalms of David in Meter. Newly translated with amendments. By William Barton, M.A. And set to the best Psalm-tunes, in two parts, viz. treble and bass; with brief instructions for the understanding of the same; together with a table of the Psalms, and names of the tunes to each Psalm. By Thomas Smith. The basses, with the table, are placed at the latter end of the book 1698 Dublin
Hunt, Henry – A Collection of Some Verses out of the Psalms of David suited to several occasions. Composed in two parts, cantus and bassus: being [the] common tunes to the Psalms in Metre, now used in parish-churches. To which is added, some instructions for singing of them. Collected for Mr. Henry Hunt, for the use of his scholars, and such as delight in psalmody 1698 London
Darby, Charles – The Book of Psalms in English Metre 1704
Bruce, Thomas – [Psalter of an unknown title] 1712
‘…in the Church, the twelve tunes mentioned in the last article seem to have been the complete repertoire. One step forward was that they were harmonized. Attempts were made to try and improve general musical standards in church singing. In a publication of 1726, a schoolmaster, Thomas Bruce, included explanatory notes along with the twelve tunes. He also included eight tunes which had not been published before. They did not gain acceptance!’ – Isobel Scott
Henry, Matthew – Family Hymns Gathered Mostly out of the Translations of David’s Psalms d. 1714
For an introduction to this, see Andrew Myers’ Matthew Henry’s Family Psalter (6 paragraphs).
Mather, Cotton – Psalterium Americanum. The Book of Psalms, in a translation exactly conformed unto the original; but all in blank verse: Fitted unto the tunes commonly used in our churches. Which pure offering is accompanied with illustrations, digging for hidden treasures in it; and rules to employ it upon the glorious and various intentions of it: Whereunto are added, some other portions of the sacred Scripture, to enrich the cantional 1718
Moore, Thomas – [Work of an Unknown Title] 1755
‘…in 1755, the [town] Corporation of Glasgow [Scotland] engaged a Thomas Moore to [help reform church singing]… He was a well-known teacher of Psalmody in Manchester [England]. He also compiled books of Psalm tunes. From one of his books comes the tune Glasgow which you will find in your Psalmody. Moore became precentor in Blackfriars Church in Glasgow.’ – Isobel Scott
Merrick, James – The Psalms Translated or Paraphrased in English Verse 1766
Anonymous – The Book of Psalms in Verse… taken from the words of Different Writers on the Psalms, but Chiefly from Bishop Horne’s Commentary 1820 London
*** – “A bold version, with important notes. In this instance we confess that there may be real poetry in a metrical version, and though the flame does not in each composition burn with equal brilliance, yet in some verses it is the true poetic fire. Mant is no mean writer.” – Spurgeon
“Contains nothing [in the comments] of any consequence to an expositor, though the verse is considerably above the average of such productions.” – Spurgeon
Eadie, John – Translation of Buchanan’s Latin Psalms into English Verse 1836 Glasgow
This John Eadie (1810-1876) was the well-known Scottish presbyterian Bible commentator.
Mainzer, Joseph – The Standard Psalmody of Scotland 1842-7
‘Joseph Mainzer taught sight singing as well as other musical skills in Paris and then throughout Britain — he even got as far as Strathpeffer! He lived in Edinburgh [Scotland] from 1842 to 1847 and lectured and taught enthusiastically. While there he published the ‘Standard Psalmody of Scotland’ and reintroduced many old tunes from the 1564 Psalter. We have his tune Mainzer in our Psalm Book [‘The Scottish Psalmody’ of the Free Church of Scotland].’ – Isobel Scott
Anonymous – A Metrical Version of the Hebrew Psalter 1845
Cole, Benjamin – The Psalms of David: a New Metrical Version 1847
Hately, T.L. – [Work of an Unknown Title] n.d.
‘T.L. Hately was born in Greenlaw, Berwickshire and was one of the few precentors who came out with the Free Church at the Disruption in 1843. He was precentor at the Free High Church, Edinburgh and also to the Assembly. Hately wanted to teach, not choirs, but congregations and he attracted huge classes — as many as 900 people in Greenock! He not only taught people how to sing but provided them with historical and critical information as well. Glencairn, Huntingtower and Leuchars were composed by him as was the melody of Cunningham. Hately… edited and published standard Psalters which helped to raise the standard of congregational singing. Their success was helped by the general and cultural interest of the time.’ – Isobel Scott
Turner, Thomas – A Metrical Version of the Book of Psalms 1859
Cayley, C.B. – The Psalms in Metre 1860
Anonymous – The Book of Psalms Translated into English Verse 1862, London
Williams, Benjamin – The Book of Psalms, as Translated, Paraphrased or Imitated by some of the most Eminent Poets, viz.: Addison, Blacklock, Brady, Carter, Daniel, Denham, Doddridge, Merrick, Milton, Roscommon, Rowe, Sowden, Steele, Tate, Tollet, Watts, and several others; and Adapted to Christian Worship… to which is prefixed A Dissertation of Scripture Imprecations, with the View of Vindicating the Sacred Writers in General, and the Psalmists in Particular, against the… charge of indulging and countenancing a malevolent spirit Buy 1881
Wrangham, Digby – Lyra Regis: the Book of Psalms rendered literally into English Meter 1885
Anonymous – A Critical Translation of the Psalms in Metre n.d.
“The author has labored hard to arrive at the correct meaning of the Hebrew, and to versify it. The work is very carefully done, but few preachers can afford to spend their money on a book of this kind.” – Spurgeon
Free Church of Scotland – Sing Psalms 2003
This was published by the Residual side of the Free Church of Scotland, as distinguished from the (Continuing) side from the division in 2000.
The Psalter sometimes uses gender inclusive language (where the Hebrew is masculine): Psalm 1 reads “Blessed is the *one* who…”. See also Ps. 41:1, etc. Psalm 112:1, however, still reads “Blessed is the man who fears the LORD.” Nonetheless, the Psalter presents a clear and intelligible translation with two or even three alternative meters offered for most of the Psalms. See more information about the psalter here.
Evaluations of Psalters
In Chapter 3, pp. 50-85, Todd comments on the psalters of: (1) Archbishop Parker, (2) Henry Dod, (3) George Wither, (4) King James’ first version, (5) George Sandy, (6) William Barton, (7) Tate and Brady, (8) Richard Blackmore
ed. Lang, David – Notices Regarding the Metrical Versions of the Psalms received by the Church of Scotland from the appendix of vol. 3 of Robert Baillie’s Letters, 1842
Commented on are: (1) the Old Version of 1565, (2) the King James’ Version of 1631, (3) Francis Rous’ Version of 1643, (4) the versions of Sir. W. Mure and Zachary Boyd, (5) Rous’ revised version of 1646, (6) The Present Version (the Scottish Metrical Psalter) of 1650, (7) Scriptural Songs and Paraphrases.
Earle, Alice – ‘The Psalm Book of the Pilgrims’, ‘The Bay Psalm Book’, ‘Sternhold and Hopkins’ Version of the Psalms’, ‘Other Old Psalm Books’, being chapters 11-14 of The Sabbath in Puritan New England 1891
Earle was a lay historian of early American culture. Her reviews of the psalm books brings out intriguing details coupled with humor. The Psalm Book of the Pilgrims was Henry Ainsworth’s 1644 psalter.
History of Psalm Tunes
Deddens, K. – The Origin of our [Genevan] Psalm Melodies 1987 70 paragraphs
Myers, Andrew – The Covenanter ‘Canon’ 2014, 2 paragraphs
Moffatt, James & Millar Patrick – Handbook to the Church Hymnary, with Supplement Buy 1929
This handbook, in addition to many other things, gives background info on all of the psalm tunes used in the Scottish Psalmody, the classic Scottish Psalter used by the Free Church of Scotland. The handbook was meant to attend the psalter and hymnbook produced in 1929 for the union of the United Free Church of Scotland with the Church of Scotland.
Scott, Isobel – The Scottish Psalmody 2011
Mrs. Scott, wife of Rev. Bill Scott of the Free Church of Scotland (Continuing) gives a very readable and lively introduction to the psalter that the Free Church of Scotland uses, and in the process gives the history of several psalters before it and the history of many of its psalm tunes. This article is instructive for children and adults alike!
Histories of Psalters
Young, Thomas – The Metrical Psalms and Paraphrases: a Short Sketch of their History with biographical notes of their authors 1909 224 pp.
Pidoux, Pierre – History of the Genevan Psalter
MacMeeken, J.W. – History of the Scottish Metrical Psalms with an Account of the Paraphrases and Hymns, and of the Music of the Old Psalter 1872 292 pp.
The Orthodox Presbyterian – History of the Authorized Metrical Version of the Psalms 1831
Patrick, Millar – Four Centuries of Scottish Psalmody 1949 286 pp.
Warwick, Alistair – Music Fyne: Scottish Church Music up to 1603
Faber, R. – ‘The First Psalters in the Dutch Reformed Churches’ in The Clarion, Feb. 28, 2003, pp. 113-116