You are here

Goostly Psalmes in Oxford and New Haven: Seminar in the History of the Book

25 January 2021

Our Librarian, Matthew Shaw, is taking part in a virtual workshop on Friday 29 January, open to all, during which he will show the College’s copy of Myles Coverdale’s Goostly Psalmes and Spirituall Songes (c. 1535). The Queen’s College Library has the only surviving complete copy of what is known as the ‘first English hymn book’, and it was almost lost to us.

As an example of Lutheran theology at that time unwelcome in Henry VIII’s England, all copies of the Psalmes were burned at St Paul’s Cross, outside of St Paul’s Cathedral, London. All, that is, but one: the copy bound into a Sammelband (a collection of pamphlets) escaped the flames, and it is now one of the treasures held by Queen’s Library. This warren of streets around St Paul’s was also the heart of the English book trade, and perhaps as a consequence of this proximity, two fragments survive as a result of being used as supposedly waste material for the binding of other books. One fragment is held in the Bodleian Library, and the other was rediscovered in 1981, and now resides in the Beinecke Library at Yale University.

Despite the importance of the text, numerous questions remain about its purpose, printing and reception. Close study of the printing; the relationship of the Psalmes to the other items in the Sammelband; and comparison of the fragments offer vital clues to its dating and context. On Friday, as part of the Bodleian Centre for the Study of the Book seminar series, the Library is participating in a virtual Zoom workshop, bringing together for the first time the fragments in Oxford and New Haven and the complete text held by the College, and allowing participants to virtually compare and discuss the texts.

Goostly Psalmes in Oxford and New Haven: a virtual workshop

Friday 29 January, 5:00pm GMT

Places can be reserved via

  • Henrike Lähnemann, Faculty of Medieval and Modern Languages, University of Oxford. ‘Translating, Singing, Printing the Reformation. The Queen’s College Sammelband with Myles Coverdale’s Goostly Psalmes’ with a showing of The Queen’s College copy and the Bodleian and Beinecke fragments
  • Kathryn James, Beinecke Library, Yale University - Kathryn James is the Curator for Early Modern Books and Manuscripts at Yale’s Beinecke Library. She is the author of English Paleography & Manuscript Culture, 1500-1800 (2020).
  • Matthew Shaw, The Queen’s College, Oxford - Matthew Shaw is Librarian of The Queen’s College, Oxford. He is a former curator at the British Library and librarian of the Institute of Historical Research.
  • Sarah Wheale, Bodleian Libraries, Oxford - Sarah Wheale is Head of Rare Books at the Bodleian Libraries.