St John's College MS K.59 (James 557)

W.H.B. Proby, A revision of the Anglican Psalter pointed for chanting. English, c. 1907-8.


'A revision of the Anglican Psalter pointed for chanting, to which is added a revision of the Benedicte, the Quicunque vult, and the Gloria in excelsis', by William Henry Baptist Proby (1832-1915). Proby studied at Trinity College (BA 1855), was Tyrwhitt Hebrew Scholar (1855), won the Carus Prize (1856), and took a first class in the Theological Examination (1856). He was subsequently ordained, pursued a career in the church and published a number of theological works.

Proby’s 'advertisement' (fos 1-4) explains the background to this work: 'Late in the year 1906 a suggestion was made in the Guardian newspaper that a revision of that version of the Psalms which forms part of the Book of Common Prayer was desirable. The present work is the result of an attempt to comply with that suggestion. It is not a new translation, intended to be used in the study or lecture-room; but only a revision of the old translation, to be used devotionally in the chamber or in church.'

A letter dated 13 June 1908 from Proby to John Henry Arthur Hart (1876-1952), Librarian of St John's, is pasted inside the front board. Proby explains that he offered his manuscript to the Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge but that they 'declined it on the ground that it would interfere with the sale of their Cathedral Psalter'. He offers it to St John's 'in case some member of that society might take the matter up' and because the college has more Hebrew scholars than Trinity.

Manuscript extra information

320 x 205mm. 170 folios. Ruled paper. Very neatly written in a single hand, with headings and initials in red, and with red asterisks 'used to indicate the division of the two parts of a chant'. The text is written on the rectos only, with occasional notes appearing on the versos. Binding: contemporary quarter binding of leather and marbled paper over boards; paper label on spine reading 'Revision of the Anglican Psalter'.

Presented by the author, June 1908 (letter inside front board). College bookplate.