The Bay Psalm Book
The Bay Psalm Book, as this work is commonly known, is the first book printed in British North America. The Reverend Jesse Glover imported the first printing press to the Massachusetts Bay Colony in 1638, some 18 years after the first English settlers landed at Plymouth Rock. A London printer, Stephen Daye, came with the press and established a printing office in Cambridge. The following year, the residents of the colony asked John Eliot, Thomas Welde, and Richard Mather to undertake a new translation from the Hebrew of the Book of Psalms, for use in the colony’s churches. Mather was the principal author and translator, but was assisted by about 30 other New England ministers. The book was printed in 1640. Reissued in successive editions, it remained in use for more than 100 years. This copy, from the Library of Congress, is one of 11 copies of the first edition known to exist. The copy is imperfect; 19 leaves, including the title page, are missing. The original calf binding, with traces of two clasps, is present. The Library of Congress Bay Psalm Book was the last copy remaining in private hands, and it was given to the Library of Congress in May 1966 by Mrs. Adrian Van Sinderen of Washington, Connecticut.
Stephen Daye, Cambridge, Massachusetts
Title in Original Language
The Whole Booke of Psalmes Faithfully Translated into English Metre: Whereunto is Prefixed a Discourse Declaring not Only the Lawfullness, but Also the Necessity of the Heavenly Ordinance of Singing Scripture Psalmes in the Churches of God
Type of Item
296 pages ; 19 centimeters
- Roger J. Trienens, “The Library’s Earliest Colonial Imprints,” Quarterly Journal of The Library of Congress (July 1967).
Last updated: July 23, 2015